Health & Wellness

Is It OK to Take PPI Medication Every Day?

Despite studies associating some risks with these heartburn helpers, an expert offers reassurance about long-term safety and usage.

Is It OK to Take PPI Medication for Heartburn Every Day?

Photo credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Leslie Pepper
Leslie Pepper,Jul 7, 20203 min read
Share Blog on FacebookShare Blog on TwitterShare Blog on LinkedInShare Blog via Email

For many with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be a lifesaver. They work by blocking a chemical system found in the cells of the stomach lining that produce stomach acid, relieving GERD symptoms. Common active ingredients include omeprazole (generic Prilosec), esomeprazole (generic Nexium), and lansoprazole (generic Prevacid), which can be bought over the counter; and rabeprazole (generic Aciphex), dexlansoprazole (generic Dexilant), and pantoprazole (generic Protonix), which require a prescription.

And they get the job done. According to Michael Goldberg, DO, chair of the Division of Gastroenterology at Einstein Healthcare Network, they can decrease stomach acid by about 60 percent, making them the most effective drugs for blocking stomach acid. Is it any wonder that Americans spend over $5 billion a year on PPIs?

Doctors generally prescribe PPIs long enough for patients to tweak their diet and lifestyle. In the best possible world, this negates the need for continuing medication. But some patients may require PPIs for longer. And in some cases, this can be life-saving. Literally for those with Barrett’s Esophagus, for instance, a condition in which the cells that line the lower part of the esophagus (called squamous cells) are replaced by another type of cell, (called columnar cells), high-dose PPI therapy for a lifetime may reduce the risk of a rare type of cancer. 

PPIs taken over the long-term can also help prevent aspirin-induced gastroduodenal ulcers.

Here’s the rub: All drugs have a risk of side effects. The most commonly associated short-term side effects of PPIs are abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and nausea, occurring in about 1 to 2 percent of patients, says Dr. Goldberg. The good news: Often, patients can switch the PPI and the side effects abate. The not-so-good news: Some reports have questioned the safety of PPIs in the long term. The main concerns are possible risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures, dementia, pneumonia, increased gastrointestinal infections, and certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This has, not surprisingly, led to patient anxiety and some even tossing out their treatment, to the dismay of their doctors. 

But these concerns may be unfounded. “The difficulty is many of the studies are just observational and don’t account for other variables that could alter the results,” says Dr. Goldberg. In other words, most of the research that has been done on PPIs look at the outcome after the treatment, without any manipulation from researchers. The studies may show that PPIs are associated with certain adverse effects, but they don’t necessarily cause those adverse effects. Study participants may have other issues that could affect their health status, such as smoking, being too thin, being a diabetic, drinking alcohol, etc.

So what’s the answer? “Take the lowest possible dose needed to control symptoms,” says Dr. Goldberg. And speak to your doctor about your individual risks versus the potential side effects. The esophagus is not designed to be exposed to excessive acid, so some people, like those with Barrett’s Esophagus, for example, will require life-long medication to control the damage acid can cause over the long term.

This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

Read More

woman-drinking-ginger-tea-for-heartburn

3 Natural Heartburn Remedies for Fast Relief

Recent recalls of popular heartburn medicines may have you worried about safety. Here’s how to feel better with these simple DIY options.

Colleen Travers headshot
Colleen Travers
Jan 22, 20204 min read
The Best Acid Reflux Treatment Options

The Best Acid Reflux Treatment Options

The right combo of a healthy diet with one of these drugs can stop heartburn in its tracks.

Leslie Pepper
Leslie Pepper
Apr 1, 20203 min read
healthy fruits and vegetables to calm acid reflux

The Best Foods for Acid Reflux

Watch what you eat and you could finally feel relief instead of annoying heartburn and discomfort after each meal.

jill-waldbieser-headshot
Jill Waldbieser
Mar 6, 20203 min read

Sign up for the Blink Bulletin newsletter

Health news, medication updates, and savings tips delivered right to your inbox

[email protected]1 (844) 265-6444
Mon–Fri: 8 am–10 pm ETSat–Sun: 9 am–7 pm ET
Blink Health is driving down the cost of prescription drugs for everyone in America.


Blink Health is driving down the cost of prescription drugs for everyone in America.Try the app now

Open Accessibility Helper

Blink Health is NOT insurance. The discount plan organization is Blink Health Administration LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 1910, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.