Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines that work by reducing the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of your stomach.
How PPIs Help You
Proton pump inhibitors are used to:
Relieve symptoms of acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition where food or liquid travels backwards from the stomach to the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach)
Treat damage to the lower esophagus caused by acid reflux
Types of PPIs
There are many different names and brands of PPIs. Most work as well as another. Side effects may be different for different ones.
Omeprazole (Prilosec), also available over the counter without a prescription
Taking Your Proton Pump Inhibitors
PPIs are taken by mouth and are marketed as tablets or capsules. The most common way of taking them is 30 minutes before your first meal of the day.
Some brands of PPI’s may be bought at the store without a prescription. If you find yourself taking these most days for acid reflux symptoms, make sure you see your health care provider about your symptoms. Some people who have acid reflux may need to take PPIs every day to control their symptoms.
If you have a peptic ulcer, your doctor may prescribe PPIs along with two or three other medicines for up to 2 weeks. Or your doctor may ask you to take these drugs are 8 weeks.
If your doctor prescribed these medicines for you:
Take all of your medicines as your doctor told you to.
Try to take them at the same time, or times, each day.
Do not stop taking your medicines without talking with your doctor first. Follow up with your doctor regularly.
Plan ahead so that you do not run out of medicine. Make sure you have enough with you when you travel.
Side effects from PPIs are rare. You may have a headache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or itching. Ask your health care provider about some possible concerns with long-term use, such as infections and bone fractures.
If you are breast-feeding or pregnant, talk to your health care provider before taking these medications.
Tell your health care provider if you are also taking other medicines. PPIs may change the way certain drugs work, including some anti-seizure medicines and blood thinners such as warfarin or clopidogrel (Plavix).
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you are having any of the side effects above. Also call your doctor if you are having other unusual symptoms or your symptoms are not improving.
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.