Understanding Proton Pump Inhibitors

One out of every five Americans suffers from medical complications caused by excessive stomach acid, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The prevalence of these conditions led many pharmaceutical companies to develop a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs work by blocking an enzyme called proton pump, which controls acid production.

Here is a key to understanding proton pump inhibitors (Source: Pixabay

The drugs are essential for people suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, ulcers, and other health issues, as they help to suppress the production of stomach acids. Sadly, the incorrect use of these drugs can cause adverse health effects. Here’s what you need to know about PPIs.

PPI Uses

After their introduction in the 1980s, PPIs quickly became the best selling medicines. They gained popularity due to their ability to treat conditions that are caused by overproduction of stomach acid. When the acid backs up into the throat, it damages the lining of your esophagus. By reducing the production of acid for four to twelve weeks, they allow the esophagus to heal properly.  

Taking PPIs makes sense when you have a chronic problem caused by stomach acid. They prevent persistent heartburns and are a powerful medication for tackling ulcers and GERD symptoms. Unfortunately, PPIs are now being inappropriately prescribed to treat conditions that don’t require the use of these drugs. This has led to damage to the health of patients, and also the filing of medical malpractice lawsuits as victims try to obtain justice. Click here for more info on proton pump inhibitor lawsuit.

Side Effects

When PPIs are taken correctly within the right period, they are safe. However, misuse, overdose, or wrong prescription carries some risks. Long-term exposure to PPIs can result in less diversity in the gut of the user, which may lead to infections and vitamin deficiencies. Research conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed that PPIs can lower the amount of magnesium in our bodies. This can result in muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions.

PPI drugs have also been found to reduce bone density, which may cause wrist, hip, and spine fractures. They have also been associated with reduced kidney function, stomach cancer, pneumonia, and heart attack. PPIs don’t always interact well with other medications as they inhibit the absorption of some drugs in the stomach. They also hinder the breakdown of drugs by the liver.

What to Do

More than half of the people who take PPIs probably do not need them. To stay safe from the risks associated with these drugs, you need to be careful about how you interact with them. For mild stomach upsets once in a while, consider using other medication alternatives such as antacids.

If your heartburn won’t go away, one of the best treatment options is changing your diet and lifestyle, as noted by Healthline. Re-examine how, when, and what you eat. Take healthy and small food portions at a time. Also, exercise, lose weight, and drop destructive habits such as smoking.

Medical Attention

Drop destructive habits such as smoking to reduce acid reflux (Source: Pixabay)

If the problem is persistent, see your doctor. After analyzing your condition and verifying its severity, they may recommend medication that prevents the production of excessive acids such as P2 receptors or PPIs. If PPIs are prescribed, ensure you take the dosage correctly. Use smaller doses, don’t use the drugs longer that is necessary, and visit your physician regularly to monitor your progress and wean you off these drugs. 


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs that need to be taken with extreme caution. Although they help cure and alleviate a variety of stomach acid-related complications, they can be harmful to your health if misused. To be safe, always consult closely with an experienced doctor before using PPIs.