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Stopping Acid-Suppressing Drug Can Be a Challenge

Stopping Acid-Suppressing Drug Can Be a Challenge

Q. As a nurse, I’m concerned about the widespread use of acid-suppressing drugs like omeprazole. I’ve heard many patients talk about how bad their reflux is when they stop these drugs. Until recently I was not aware that there is a rebound effect. Do you have any suggestions about how people can discontinue such medicine?

A. Rebound hyperacidity is now recognized as a potential complication of stopping many powerful acid-suppressing drugs. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix) and rabeprazole (Aciphex) can trigger severe heartburn symptoms when people stop them suddenly (American Journal of Gastroenterology, July, 2010). One reader noted: “I have been taking Nexium for about three years. I tried to get off it and got the rebound effect. Now what do I do?”

Gradual tapering might be beneficial. Less potent acid-reducing approaches including antacids or natural compounds may also help get someone past the most difficult stage.

We are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders for more details on getting off PPIs and other ways to deal with heartburn. Visitors to our website report that deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) may help, along with ginger and persimmon tea.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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