You may have consulted with your health care provider because you were experiencing certain symptoms such as heartburn, stomach pain, or belching.
Maybe you were told that you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an ulcer, or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES).
PPIs treat these problems by decreasing the amount of acid produced by your stomach. PPIs turn off pumps in the stomach that produce acid. You may know how PPIs work to help acid-related conditions, but how do you know if they’re working for you? Here are some positive signs to look for:
You’re Feeling Better
If you’re taking a PPI to treat your condition, your symptoms are probably starting to go away. You may not have immediate symptom relief, however — PPIs may take a few days to shut off acid-producing pumps in your stomach. Most people who take a PPI will experience relief within four weeks. How long it takes to get relief from your symptoms may also depend on the severity of your digestive problem.
You’re Sleeping Better
PPIs have been shown to help decrease nighttime heartburn symptoms. As many as 80 percent of people with GERD have nighttime symptoms. Even if you are not aware of them, the discomfort can disrupt the sleep cycle. Two factors that may contribute to nighttime GERD symptoms include:
- Gravity: During the day when you’re upright, gravity helps to keep acid down in the stomach. When you’re lying down at night the acid can flow back up into your esophagus.
- Decreased saliva: Saliva helps to neutralize stomach acid. However, when you’re sleeping, you don’t produce as much saliva.
For many, once-daily dosing of a PPI takes care of nighttime symptoms — providing 24 hours of symptom relief. However, some people need a second daily dose, which is usually taken before dinner.
You’ve Tossed Your Antacids Aside
Studies show that people who are on PPIs take fewer antacids. Before you started taking a PPI, you may have reached for antacids (Tums, Rolaids, etc.) to help with your heartburn or stomach pain. You could be noticing that you don’t have to take as many antacids as you did before starting your PPI. This is because PPIs decrease the acid produced, leading to less irritation of the esophagus and stomach.
Your Ulcer Is Healed
PPIs can help heal ulcers. The two most common causes of ulcers are a type of bacteria, H. pylori, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen), aspirin, and Aleve (naproxen).
PPIs can be used along with antibiotics to eliminate the ulcer-causing bacteria and help heal your ulcer. Before starting this therapy, your doctor may perform a test to confirm you have H. pylori, and then re-test after therapy is complete to ensure the bacteria have been killed. It may take two to three weeks of antibiotic therapy to wipe out the bacteria; however, your doctor may extend the PPI therapy for up to eight weeks to heal the ulcer.
PPIs can relieve pain and heal ulcers due to NSAIDs in as little as four weeks. Some people may require an additional eight weeks of treatment.
Your Esophagus Is Healed
PPI therapy is very effective in healing a damaged esophagus, with results usually occurring in just six to eight weeks. A healed esophagus may be a major reason your symptoms have stopped. However, this does not mean that your GERD is cured. While some people may be able to stop taking their PPI once their esophagus is healed, others will not be able to stop their therapy. For some people, symptoms may come back once the PPI is stopped.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
You may have experienced relief with your PPI therapy — perhaps your symptoms have gone away, you’re sleeping better at night, and you’re taking fewer antacids. However, your health care provider plays an important role in determining if your PPI is helping you and your digestive problem. So be sure to work closely with your health care provider and discuss any concerns about your PPI and the condition it’s treating.