There has been a lot of talk in the media about the dangers of PPI medications and even more discussion on whether they are overused. While it is important to discuss the proper use of every medication it sometimes appears that the side effects are the focus to the exclusion of any benefit. Some patients I speak with refuse treatment even when a doctor has insisted that the benefit outweighs the risk.
Untreated acid reflux or GERD can cause significant damage to the patient. One measure of this damage is seen in the form of esophageal strictures. Esophageal strictures can form in GERD patients when repeated exposure to acid damages the esophagus. The damage tissue then goes on to scar and narrow the esophagus. Treatment of these strictures often involves a procedure that dilates the esophagus.
Since the introduction of PPI medications the need for esophageal dilatation has decreased significantly, both in new and recurrent cases (1). This is important to note because it shows how well these medications are treating GERD. If you have ever dealt with esophagi is, strictures or any other complication from under or untreated GERD you know how important these medications can be to your quality of life.
Of course, medications should not be overused and their benefits should be weighed against the risk by each individual physician. Adjusting lifestyle factors that may be playing a role in the GERD can also help to limit the amount of time on these types of medications. The goal should always be to use the least amount of medication that controls symptoms and to get off of the medication as soon as it is no longer needed. That is the best way to get the most benefit from PPI's while limiting the risk for side effects.
If you have concerns about your medication, please talk with your doctor or pharmacist before deciding to simply not take the medications. Again, untreated GERD has its own list of detrimental effects!
Published On: January 04, 2012