PPIs: What They Treat And How They Work

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole, are common medications used in the treatment of a wide range of stomach conditions. These are common, too, because many people are becoming sick because of acid reflux and ulcers due to a stressful lifestyle and unhealthy diet, among other factors.  

But don’t take PPIs just because you feel like you have one of these conditions. You should always consult with your doctor for a definitive diagnosis since PPIs may not be the best treatment. You may also be taking PPIs the incorrect way, thus, worsening your symptoms and conditions.

What Conditions Do PPIs Treat?

PPIs are a group of medicines commonly used in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, a part of the gut
  • Acid reflux resulting in symptoms like heartburn and/or esophagitis, which are also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria found in the stomach and known to cause ulcer, but usually as adjunct treatment
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

PPIs are also used in the prevention and treatment of ulcers associated with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Such wide range of possible treatment uses mean that PPIs have made a significant impact on the improvement of the quality of life for thousands of people. These have been available since the 1980s.

How Do PPIs Work?  

These class of medicines reduce the production of acid in the stomach, thus, decreasing the symptoms of ulcers, acid reflux and other stomach diseases. The stomach normally produces acid that aid in the digestion of food and the prevention of the growth of harmful bacteria.

But the acid can also be corrosive so the body also produces a protective lining on the stomach, a natural barrier of mucus. This lining protects the stomach’s lining from being eroded by the acid’s corrosive action.

The barrier can be broken down, unfortunately, by several factors including physical and mental stress as well as an unhealthy diet. The acid then damages the stomach resulting in ulcers.

In other cases, the sphincter prevented the stomach from opening up, so to speak. The acid then escapes and irritates the esophagus resulting in acid reflux.  

PPIs work by stopping the cells lining the stomach from producing too much acid. The action then helps in the prevention of ulcer formation and/or helps in the healing process of ulcers.  

When you’re on a PPI program, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommended dosage and duration for best results. Your symptoms will likely return otherwise.

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