Natural Remedies & Treatments For Acid Reflux | Natural Remedy For GERD

Acid Reflux PPI Treatment:
Does It Work In The Long Run?

PPIs are a group of prescription medications that is used to treat acid reflux symptoms. Before, we discuss how PPIs work to treat acid reflux, its potential side effects and the healthier alternative, let's talk about the acid reflux disease in general.

The human body requires acid in the stomach to digest and assimilate food. Stomach acid also keeps dangerous bacteria in check and protects the gastrointestinal tract from infection. But the stress of modern living with deteriorating dietary habits often causes this stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus causing irritation to the sensitive lining of the esophagus, resulting in heartburn, irrespective of age, sex, and race. Left unchecked, it may progress eventually to cancer of the esophagus.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are a group of medications that decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. Doctors prescribe PPI to treat people with acid reflux, GERD, ulcers in the stomach or intestine, or other digestive disorders that may be caused by excess stomach acid. Proton-pump inhibitors reduce the production of acid by blocking the enzyme in the wall of the stomach that produces acid. The reduction of acid prevents ulcers and heals existing ulcers in the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The proton pump is an enzyme that takes out non-acidic potassium and replaces it with an acidic hydrogen ion. By putting more hydrogen ions in the stomach, the pump makes the contents of the stomach more acidic. But, PPI stops the action of the pump, stopping the acid secretion. 

There are five types of PPI all being similar in their mode of action. They are raberprazole (Aciphex), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix). They differ in how they are broken down by the liver and how they interact with other medications. Effect of some PPIs may last longer than others.

Both PPI and H2 blockers suppress gastric acid secretion. But they do it in different ways. PPI shuts down the proton pump in the stomach while H2 blockers block the histamine receptors in acid-producing cells of the stomach. PPIs have a delayed onset of action and their effects lasts about 24 hours. H2 blockers on the other hand start working within an hour but their effect lasts only 12 hours.

PPIs have been a tremendous therapeutic advancement, transforming lives of patients with intractable acid reflux. Yet, they too have serious side effects on long-term usage. These include headache, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, and rash. The artificial blocking of stomach acid interferes with the ability of the body to fix calcium, resulting in osteoporosis. Increase in prevalence of pneumonia caused by Clostridium difficile, acute nephritis, enteritis has also been linked to the use of PPI.

While the efficacy of PPI in treating acid reflux has been proved beyond doubt, they have serious side effects and cannot be used for more than 8 weeks. Additionally, they merely take care of the symptoms without treating the disease. The only way to get treatd of the disease is to go for the holistic therapy. As noted earlier, acid reflux is a lifestyle disease so modifications of dietary habits, behavioral therapy, stress relief, and weight management are all very essential. Holistic medicine takes care of all these aspects of the body, treating it as a whole to get rid of the disease.

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