Proton Pump Inhibitors: Controlling Stomach Acid

November 12, 2012

Proton Pump Inhibitors: Controlling Stomach Acid

Increased stomach acid can cause a number of aggravating and severe conditions. Proton pump inhibitors can provide long term relief for people suffering from stomach irritation.

In order for the body to get the nutrients it needs from the food you eat, the food must be thoroughly broken down. The digestive process begins in the mouth with chewing and saliva before continuing in the stomach. Stomach acid is produced to help with the digestion of the meal. As you could imagine, the overproduction of acid can have an adverse effect on the stomach and connecting tissue. The use of a proton pump inhibitor can help decrease acid production from the parietal cells of the stomach.

How it works

The stomach is lined with a protective mucous membrane which helps to protect the organ from acid damage. When there is too much acid present, this membrane can be broken down. Proton pump inhibitors work by stopping the proton pump action in the acid producing cells lining the stomach. Because the proton pump is near the end of the acid production system, it can take some time for the drugs mechanism of action to kick in. Like many types of medications, there are some common side effects associated with these drugs:

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Stomach pain

There are quite generic drugs such as pantoprazole, esomeprazole, and omperazole. Brand name medications are available if necessary.

Conditions Requiring PPIs

Almost any condition that results from too much acid or that causes the production of too much acid could benefit from proton pump inhibitors. These drugs are commonly prescribed for the long term control of disease conditions such as:

  • Treating Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

  • Helps control the symptoms of ulcers while also helping to remove any Helicobacter pylori bacteria colonies

  • Treat duodenum (intestine) and stomach ulcers

  • Treats and prevents the formation of ulcers caused by common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications known as NSAIDs

  • Reduces the acid responsible for oesophagitis and heartburn

  • Treatment of any other condition where stomach acid production is too high

Most PPIs require a prescription. One or two are available without one but a doctor should be consulted if you need to use the medication for over a month.

Using PPIs

When you are prescribed a proton pump inhibitor, your doctor will go over all the specifics of taking the medication. A dosage will be given to you that will best suit your needs. It is important to thoroughly read the insert provided with any drug so that you know if there are any special requirements when taking it and whether or not it will interfere with your current medications. PPIs can take a few hours to start providing adequate relief, but normally continue working for 24-72 hours. The length of treatment varies from person to person. If you are only taking it “as needed” then you will keep it around for flare-ups. On the other hand, people taking it for an underlying condition may need to take it on a regular basis for best results. Severe complications can arise and your doctor should be immediately contacted if any of the following occur with the use of your proton pump inhibitor:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Constant vomiting or stomach pain

  • Stools contain blood (sometimes evident by the traditional red blood or can be black)

  • Vomiting up blood of either red or brown color

  • Problems with swallowing

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