Are Proton Pump Inhibitors Such as Omeprazole the Solution for GERD?

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers are GERD medications which decrease the amount of stomach acid produced and released. As mentioned previously, conventional help for GERD focuses on control of stomach acid.

Proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec (omeprazole or omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Aciphex (rabeprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole) take 1-4 days to fully work, and reduce acid production by targeting the enzyme your body produces that is used in acid production.

They are to be taken for 14 days straight, not occasionally when you need them.

Prevacid is a PPI

At the time of this writing, the ingredients in these medications are not readily available online, so please read the product packaging carefully. Of the ones I could find, the inactive ingredients In Prevacid may be artificial colors, gelatin (beef allergy alert!), sugar, talc, starch, and preservative. Nexium also contains gelatin.

What are the Side Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors?

The most common side effects of PPIs, according to are:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, and
  • Rash.

Serious allergic reactions such as face swelling, throat tightness or difficulty breathing may happen.

Other side effects may be:

  • High doses and use long-term for 1 year or longer may increase the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures of the hip, wrist, or spine. [Why is this? Because they reduce the ability of minerals to be absorbed.]
  • Low magnesium levels can occur in some people who take a PPI for at least 3 months. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience seizures, dizziness, abnormal or fast heartbeat, jitteriness, jerking movements or shaking (tremors), muscle weakness, spasms of the hands and feet, cramps or muscle aches, or spasm of the voice box.
  • When combined with diuretics, PPI's can cause dangerous low levels of blood magnesium increasing the risk of hospitalization!
  • Also, some PPI’s, and especially Prilosec, can cause certain drugs such as Valium, Coumadin and Dilantin to increase in concentration in the blood because some PPI’s reduce the liver’s ability to break down those drugs.
  • PPIs can also interfere with the absorption of drugs that require adequate acid for absorption, thereby reducing the absorption and concentration of drugs such as the anti-fungal ketoconazole (Nizoral. Extina, Xolegel, Kuric).
  • Proton pump inhibitors can also increase the absorption and concentration of digoxin (Lanoxin), a drug used to increase the strength and intensity of heart contractions, thereby increasing the risk of digoxin toxicity.
  • PPI's can also interfere with absorption and/or excretion of nutrients like chromium.
  • Other concerns include increased rates of pneumonia, Clostridium dificile infection, and other infections.
  • Three studies published in 2015 show that increased use of proton pump inhibitors may be contributing to a rise in chronic kidney disease.

It is because of the side effects of these drugs and other medications that you, the consumer, should always read the information leaflets that are provided with any medication.

Proton pump inhibitor medication leaflets say that it is important to use the lowest doses and shortest duration of treatment necessary for the condition being treated.

But how many people stay on these drugs long-term? If you don’t try to fix the problem, it most likely is not going to spontaneously go away. To try to fix the problem causing your GERD, review the causes and see if you can improve diet or lifestyle factors.

Are Proton Pump Inhibitors the Answer for Help with GERD?

You can see that PPIs are not the answer for a cure for GERD, since they are meant to be used for less than a year and they have some side effects that might be worse than the reflux. Instead, try to eliminate the cause of frequent reflux and heartburn and maybe you won’t need medication.

Check out these other pages:

Treatment for GERD with antacids.

Treatment for GERD with H2 blockers.

Help for GERD with probiotics, and why you need stomach acid.

Return to the page about GERD causes.

Return to the page about GERD symptoms, diagnosis and complications.

Return to the Homepage.

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