What Can I Do about Excess Stomach Acidity?

"Escape the Fire" by Henry Garciga (photo used by his permission)
"Escape the Fire" by Henry Garciga (photo used by his permission)
Wikipedia common usage photo
Wikipedia common usage photo

Three Rules for Taking PPI’s


1. Only take PPIs if you absolutely need to do so. Such drugs are often overprescribed by doctors and other health professionals, even though potential side effects can be dangerous to one’s health.

2. If you decide to take PPIs, consume as few of them as possible; and if you opt to take them for months or years, take a small dosage, if you can, 10 to 15 milligrams per day may be enough.

3. If you take PPI’s for longer than a period of weeks, because of possible malabsorption issues, you may want to take supplements such as calcium and vitamin B-12.

Good luck!

Taking PPIs is definitely a cheap option for dealing with acid reflux disease


When I got into my forties, I began having trouble with excess stomach acidity, heartburn, acid indigestion or whatever you want to call it. This condition could strike at any time, not just after eating; and it didn’t seem to matter what I ate – spicy foods or whatever, because I would get it no matter what, at some unexpected time or another. So I started carrying antacids with me, just in case it would hit me while I was in the movie theater or wherever.

Then about the time I reached 50, the condition got worse. Antacids didn’t always cure the condition anymore, and the pain was worse – and not in the stomach, just to the right of the belly button, actually. Also, at times, this glop of acid and undigested food would rise from my stomach, geyser through the esophagus and erupt in my mouth. Yuk! This condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Tums or other antacids such as Pepcid or Zantac are no match for it. If you’ve dealt with this condition, you know what I mean!

Eventually I went to Kaiser for this problem, and they threw some pills at me, as they seem to do in such situations. (Have you been there?) But, hey, the pills worked very well! Just one pill per day would eliminate the problem for a day or more. These pills were called Protonix.

Protonix are known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs are designed to work, not in the stomach, but in the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. That’s why each pill is what’s called enteric-coated. In the duodenum, these pills work to block the production of acid before it wreaks havoc.

PPIs do have side effects, though, so please be aware. The only problem I’ve had taking them is a little diarrhea from time to time. But that would probably happen anyway!

However, the glitch with taking Protonix is that you need a doctor’s prescription to buy them, and they can be expensive, though the cost seems to be going down nowadays. Another prescription PPI you can obtain is Nexium.

Ads for Nexium try to make you think that the drug heals sores in the esophagus caused by acid reflux. Save your money! All proton pump inhibitors do the same thing. Once the amount of acid is reduced, healing occurs naturally.

Moreover, an article on WebMD states that most doctors agree that all PPIs have the same effectiveness more or less. So don’t spend big bucks on some pretty pills that don’t work any better than the cheaper stuff.


Fortunately, over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors are now available. One such drug is Prilosec OTC, which works just fine but is a little expensive, nearly a dollar per pill. Ouch! A somewhat cheaper generic equivalent is omeprazole, available in stores such as Safeway, Target or Wal-Mart. Better yet, buy either one on the Internet and spend even less, though you will have to pay shipping and handling. Paying around 25 to 50 cents per pill would be a good deal, so go for it!

In contrast, Zegerid combines antacids with omeprazole, so it supposedly works faster than Prilosec, Nexium or omeprazole.

Lansoprazole is another OTC PPI, which contains the generic equivalent of Prevacid, and it is somewhat cheaper than Prevacid.

Please keep in mind that if you need to take these pills on a regular basis, you could have a more serious condition such as an ulcer. By the way, a doctor told me that most ulcers occur in the duodenum and not the stomach. At any rate, if your condition worsens, better see a doctor.

However, if you have no health insurance, you may want to keep taking PPIs, because doctor visits are very expensive these days!

Can PPIs be taken indefinitely?

There’s much debate on this issue. Since PPIs decrease the amount of stomach acid produced, one’s immune system could be compromised because the required amount of stomach acid may not be present to destroy invading bacteria or viruses. PPIs can also reduce calcium intake, thereby threatening the stability of one’s bones.

But people treated for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome have taken omeprazole for over five years with no ill effects. Therefore, take my advice and use your own judgment.

Can PPIs Cause Dementia?

In an online article for Medscape Medical News entitled “Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to Dementia” dated February 15, 2016, a recent study seems to show that elderly people who have taken PPIs have an increased risk of dementia. The people in the study were 75 or older and observed from 2004 to 2011, and 50 per cent developed some form of dementia over that time.

I’d like to point out that many people in that age group are going to develop dementia no matter what drugs they’ve taken, and many of these people take numerous medications every day, some of which have many potential side effects, including dementia. The study also reports that researchers have no idea how PPIs could degrade brain function, though causing a vitamin or mineral deficiency is one possibility. For instance, a lack of vitamin B-12 can cause dementia.

The article also states that up 70 per cent of all PPI prescriptions could be unnecessary.

Afterword

As for me, as long as my condition exists as it does, I will probably continue taking these pills for the rest of my life. If take one pill first thing in the morning, I don’t have to worry about heartburn or acid reflux the entire day. For convenience and effectiveness, this is definitely the way to take care of the problem of excess stomach acidity.

But you shouldn’t take these pills if you don’t need them; or, if you do take them, you may try taking a smaller dosage. It seems many people take way too much. More than 20 to 40 milligrams per day may be excessive and thereby cause damage of some sort.

Please note that I’m not an advocate of people popping pills, much less taking drugs. But these PPIs seem safe, have minimal side effects and are very cheap compared to most medication. Or, if you’d rather try some “natural” remedy, by all means give it a try.

Please leave a comment.

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Comments 34 comments

Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 3 years ago from California Author

Esomeprazole is the generic equivalent to Nexium; unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any of esomeprazole on the market. (I used to buy Protonix from New Zealand. ) But you could try the generic equivalent of something else. As I indicated in the article, all of these PPIs are basically the same drug. You could also try taking a 20 mg pill instead, which are half the price. Anyway, it's encouraging to hear from somebody who's been taking PPIs for seven years with no ill effects. Later!


Rp 3 years ago

I'm 31 years old, I've been taking Nexium 40 mg daily, since I was 23, that's 7 years. If I don't ate it one day and eat healthy and avoid acid producing foods like tomato, coffee, curries etc. I still get a bad acidity problem the next day. I took antacids for years before I was 23. Nexium has been the best thing ever for me.

It's really expensive, but I buy my Nexium from India, where its called Neksium. Same pills, same company, just changed the name to avoid tax or something..I don't know exactly.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 3 years ago from California Author

I agree with cautious1, acid reflux disease must be treated asap or surgery could be necessary. Later!


cautious1 3 years ago

Please be careful to advise against using PPI's to treat acid reflux.

My husband has suffered from acid reflux for at least 10 years, did not take PPI's on a continual basis, and has recently been diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.

While it is true that changing the diet can help, there are various conditions which create a chronic problem with GERD. One is a hiatal hernia, which in my husband's case accompanies his severe reflux esophagitis, and surgery to correct the problem has many risks and failures.

I agree with Kosmo that treatment depends on the condition of the patient and should be determined by a top notch gastroenterologist with extensive experience in the area. However, if GERD is left untreated, it will frequently damage the lining of the esophagus, replacing it with intestinal metaplasia, a precancerous condition which can lead to dysplasia and death.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 3 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the tip elsiefox. PPI's should be taken with caution. Later!


elsiefox 3 years ago

Do NOT take PPI's long term! I did this and it wrecked my stomach - I can no longer digest raw vegetables, they go right through me in a very painful manner. Truth is, our stomach needs acid to kill the harmful bacteria and yeast that get into our bady along with our food, and I have developed intestinal candiasis, which is listed on the FDA website as a possible complication of PPI's. PPI's were never meant to be used for longer than 6-8 weeks. Please research alternative causes for your stomach problems and alternative methods to treat them. I have been working onthis for quite a while and am still working on getting the answers. Drs. are trained to prescribe a pill for your symptoms, not find the root of the problem, apparently. At least the ones I've seen. We have to do research and advocate for our health!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Hey, Meredith A Lager, I'm glad you're alive after all you've been through. Thanks very much for your valuable information and experience, and I hope you find better doctors in the future. Later!


Meredith_A_Iager profile image

Meredith_A_Iager 4 years ago from Maryland

My main point is, I was given the protonix at 80mg when I had nothing wrong with me. I was recovering from a tonsillectomy, and not eating much, and taking liquid vicodin for pain. And I wanted to make sure I didn't have gastritis or something else wrong with my stomach.

80mg is used for pre cancerous conditions of the esophagus and stomach.

I was told 80mg would "make me feel better," when in fact the Dr. was just trying to make me ill and make me BECOME a patient. I got very ill very quickly, ...and you know the rest because I wrote what happened above..

Many people out there are taking these pills with little or no problems, and actually getting GERD because it is affecting their gallbladders and creating stomach inflammation.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the comment, mere. I know taking PPIs is not without risk, though just about every medication seems to have possible side effects, etc. At any rate, I wouldn't advise anyone taking 80 mg of PPIs per day, a regimen that could deplete the supply of stomach acid, which, as you pointed out, is not all bad. Take 20 mg, instead. Also, a person without health insurance would have a difficult time paying for all those tests you mentioned. Moreover, I'll bet many insurance companies wouldn't pay for many of those tests, either. That's why so many people pop PPIs, for better or worse. Later!


mere 4 years ago

I was put on 80mg of protonix after a clean endoscopy. I lost my gallbladder in 9 weeks, became progressively ill. PPIs can create gallstones and make your GALLBLADDER COLLAPSE. Then I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. I was then put on motility drugs, and never needed those either, I WAS MISDIAGNOSED with gastroparesis! I wound up finding out a year later, after suffering with chronic nausea and abdominal pain (and taking domperidone for motility - only churned up the inflammation I had and made it 1,000 times worse - I felt like death warmed over).

I had inflammation the entire time, and was given a 1 hour emptying test - when I should have been given a 4 hour emptying test and another endoscopy. My current doctor told me the bile overflow and from my gallbladder collapsing that fast made severe inflammation in my duodenum and the rest of my intestines! PPIs created all my problems and I never needed them!!!!!

PPIs can cause your digestive system to shut down, starting with your gallbladder, then ruining the lining of your intestines. They also suck you of magnesium, B vitamins, and other essential vitamins and nutrients, which is why people start having bone issues when on PPIs for long time periods.

PPIs are NOT meant for long term usage. Go read about their drug facts, symptoms and what they are meant for. The FDA writes they are for short term treatment of ulcers, and other serious conditions that are pre-cancerous, like Barretts esophagus, or Zollinger Ellison Syndrome. PPIs are also used for healing gastritis, but you only need it at 20-40mg for about 2 weeks.

PPIs are cyclic drugs - if you take it for no reason you can GET INFLAMMATION, GERD, and GALLSTONES. Which is exactly what happened to me. If you take them to heal something its fine, but only for short term!!!!!!!

MY MAIN POINT: You need acid to live, it is like the blood of your digestive system. Think about it: If we didn't have blood in our circulatory system, we would all die. The acid in our digestive system is to break down food, and kill bacteria that is harmful.

PLEASE do not listen to these GI doctors, they are pushing PPIs like WATER because they want to CREATE a patient. If you are burping or have GERD you need to change your diet and take all natural supplements, or maybe even lose weight.

I guarantee, if you have been on PPIs and are getting worse, you probably already have GALLSTONES - go get a sonogram or HIDA scan and find out.

I am so adamant about all of this because I just survived 2 years of medical hell from my GI community in Maryland. I pray that you all read this and start reading and get the assistance you need. If you need a good GI doctor that won't harm you and will get you back on track to healing, send me an email mereaiager@yahoo.com.


guest here 4 years ago

I can only agree with Meredith_A_Iager. I got the them too and after a while my hair started falling out and I had pure blood as Urin ( no not in it). So the doc checked everything and couldn't find why this was happening. Until I READ the section"RARE SIDE EFECTS" and there were my problems!!! As soon as stopped taking them, it all stopped. My Doc was just as surprised as I am, unfortunately my Stomach problem persist and I am still on the search to find something that might cure it permantly, otherwise one day I will wind up with an Ulcer.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Many people suffer from GERD or acid reflex or other gastrointestinal problems. For me, taking PPIs is an effective, low-cost option. Other people can do what they think is best. Hey, I'm sure Dr. Oz has much to say about this. Later!


care 4 years ago

I have two daughters with gastroparesis. They also suffer from severe GERD. They usually wind up in the hospital with dehydration because they can't keep anything down. They are always prescribed Protonix following ED visit. One daughter has been treated with endoscopic botox injections and had some relief but GERD symptoms remain. They've both altered their diets severely I.e. no caffeine, no acidity, no heavy meals, small meals frequently throughout the day, no alcohol, no spicy, etc..... Their symptoms are less, less ED visits but still symptoms persist. With all of your comments what are we to believe? I never been told to have them avoid dairy. What do we parents believe?


reflux 4 years ago from USA

Be careful as high dose or long-term use of PPIs carry a possible increased risk of bone fractures. PPIs drug reduces the gastric acid production so,the reduction of stomach acid reduces the amount of calcium dissolved in the stomach or that PPIs may interfere with the breakdown and rebuilding of bone by interfering with the acid production of osteoclasts.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the heads up, Meredith. I know that taking PPIs is not without danger. I've also heard that taking them can make one's bones brittle. So definitely consult with a doctor - assuming one has a doctor - before taking them longer than 14 days. Later!


meredith 4 years ago

just an FYI without acid in your stomach your food is moving slower, making the chronic reflux problems a lot worse.... taking ppis for simple reflux issues is not a good thing, because you will want more, and then can suffer an acid refound effect... which can be a nightmare...

the motility of your food is slower when on a ppi, the food is being pushed out of the stomach, and wont be turned into "chime" it will try to break down some in the small instestine.. however, it can make the intestines inflammed and very irriated without acid breaking it down in the stomach...

taking a ppi for simple reflux as a short term drug might be okay.. but ppis are dangerous, can cause reflux to become worse, can make inflammation occur because you arent digestive your food normally with 99 percent acid GONE (with a ppi drug).

These drugs should be used with caution...you might be making a HUGE mistake by taking them on a regular basis... especially if your doctor didn't give you a hydelberg test to check what your acidity levels really are before prescribing nexium or protonix, or dexliant.....


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the comment, reflux. Natural methods for treating just about any health problem are the best, but for chronic acid reflux and ulcers, PPI's may be the best option. Later!


reflux 4 years ago from USA

Nice hub. There are lots of things which causes acid reflux one should try to identify foods that contribute to excess stomach acid. Foods that are spicy, salty and acidic should be avoided and Smoking and alcohol consumption should be stopped to keep stomach acid levels in the stomach and esophagus in harmony.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the appreciation, dusy7969. I wish you luck treating your "heated" stomach. Later!


dusy7969 profile image

dusy7969 5 years ago from San Diego, California

Very nice hub.I like this hub.I face the stomach problem.My stomach mostly heated.I am feeling uncomfortable.I read the tips and get a lot of information about the stomach problem.So thanks a lot for this useful and informative sharing.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Yes, Movie Master, lots of folks pop PPI's on a regular basis. When GERD hits you in the middle of the night, it's no fun. Later!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Kosmo, The GERD problem started about 6 months ago for me, I didn't realise how nasty or common it was, I am always on the look-out for advice and help, thanks!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

When a person has a chronic problem with excess stomach acidity, taking PPIs may be the most effective option. I know of people who have taken them for years with no ill effects. However, I will read you hub regarding this issue. Thanks. Later!


Meredith_A_Iager profile image

Meredith_A_Iager 5 years ago from Maryland

BEWARE OF TAKING PPIS FOR NO REASON, IF YOU ARE BURPING A LITTLE -- get some DGL licorice pills or papaya -- DO NOT TAKE PPIS FOR A LONG TIME....THESE CAN CAUSE SEVERE AND LIFE THREATENING DAMAGE!!!!

ONLY TAKE THEM IF YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH GASTRITIS, GERD, ZOLLINGER-ELLISON SYNDROME, or other actual positive readings from bloodwork, or an endoscopy, etc. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BE CAREFUL -- READ MY STORY IT'S ON MY HUB ABOUT PPIS and THEIR DANGERS!!!!!!!


henry garciga 6 years ago

A picture I took of what's in your refrigerator

would've explained EVERYTHING!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California Author

Jandee, I don't eat lots of meat, though your comment is well taken. Anyway, I'm afraid my problem is too great to treat by simply reducing my intake of acidic food. Thanks for the comment. Later!


jandee profile image

jandee 6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello Kosmo,

Please listen to Immartin and if you insist on meat keep it white. Work to take alkaline in your diet rather than acid i.e melon,kiwi...........if you do this you will be able to chuck the rubbish you take down the drain,regards jandee.


Megavitamin profile image

Megavitamin 6 years ago

Haha, thanks for the advice. I'll certainly look into Omeprasole!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California Author

Megavitamin, you seem to have a condition similar to mine, that is a chronic one, so you pop the pill as I do. For me, Omeprasole works just as well as Prilosec and is quite a bit cheaper. Hint! I should sell it on the Internet. Later!


Megavitamin profile image

Megavitamin 6 years ago

This is a great hub. I suffer from acid reflux disease and it stinks! I take Prilosec everyday--sometimes two. It's an interesting debate going on because the biggest cause of my refluxing is tomatoes--not meat. Keep up the good work :0)


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California Author

The early ancestors of whom I wrote didn't grow anything a million years ago or so, but they may have gathered legumes and grains (beans, squash and maize?). Let's say the debate is still open whether hominids needed meat for improved brain evolution. Anyway, I think I've reduced my intact of meat because it's too darn expensive. Thanks for the comments, dude. Later!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Kosmo, by combining grains and legumes you get all the amino acids contained in meat. Anyway, with our long digestive tracts (as opposed to the short ones of real carnivores) meat -- red meat in particular puts a real strain on our digestive tracts. I didn't say give it up -- just reduce it.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the comment, Immartin! I agree with everything you say except about humans not needing meat. Our early ancestors wouldn't have developed complex brains without the amino acids in meat. In fact, civilization probably wouldn't have developed without humans injesting meat. However, producing meat on the hoof takes lots of vegetable matter, so for that reason alone people should probably eat more veggies. Later!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Hi Kosmo, The best cure for acid reflux and excess acids is to stop eating foods that demand the body make it -- animal protein. When the body is forced to breakdown animal protein once, twice, sometimes three times a day, if gets into the habit of producing more of it than is healthy. Mankind was never designed to eat meat -- this is true -- and the digestion of meat requires a higher concentration of acid.

Switch to more vegetables for your diet. Learn about vegetarian cooking and start out with two vegetarian days a week, and bring it up to whatever you're comfortable with. When you do eat animal protein, try to make it fish as often as possible.

Avoid dairy -- dairy products require tons of acid to break them down.

Contrary to popular myth, spices have little to do with the production of acids, and some spices actually aid in digestion.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you want to know more -- go to my site and email me. I'd be glad to give you more leads. Best of luck. I know this is an uncomfortable condition and, as we age, we pay for all our earlier dietary indiscretions.

PS. Pharmacueticals are not the answer. This is your body's way of telling you you're not feeding it what it wants.

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