PPIs and acid reflux shouldn’t go together as often as they currently are for military veterans.

Of the millions of Americans who suffer from heartburn and acid reflux, many rely on medication to relieve their symptoms. While OTC antacids and prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) offer much-needed relief for many reflux sufferers, a recent study suggests that these drugs are not meant to be taken indefinitely. According to a new report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, U.S. military veterans in particular are taking higher doses of PPIs for longer than average periods.

If you are experiencing chronic reflux that does not improve with medication, don’t hesitate to contact the La Peer Health Systems Reflux Center of Excellence for a consultation, as additional therapies may be needed to alleviate your symptoms.

What Are PPIs?

A common treatment for reflux patients, proton pump inhibitors ease heartburn symptoms by reducing production of gastric acids. While PPIs and antacids are some of the most frequently prescribed medications in the world, new research suggests that patients may be exceeding the recommended dosage of these drugs and taking them for longer than recommended times. Overusing these medications can cause a number of negative side effects, including bacterial infections and pneumonia. Further, because PPIs inhibit calcium absorption, they may lead to an increased risk of suffering hip fractures and other breaks. For these reasons, the doctors at the Reflux Center caution patients who are taking PPIs long-term to be cautious.

Overuse of PPIs for Acid Reflux

In a recent study involving 1,600 Veterans at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Illinois, most were prescribed a supply of PPIs exceeding the typical three-month initial dose. Further, many of the veterans received a high daily dose of treatment. Of the patients receiving a higher dose, few saw a reduction in dosage over the next two years.

The results of the study suggest that some doctors are not adhering to the recommendations of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Gastroenterology Association. As part of the new Choosing Wisely campaign, these groups advise physicians to treat GERD with low-dose PPIs for a period of four to eight weeks. Patients who do not respond well to this treatment should consider other therapies such as surgery.

Heartburn Treatments at the Reflux Center

At La Peer’s Reflux Center of Excellence, our GI specialists offer a number of options for patients whose reflux does not respond to traditional PPIs and antacids. In addition to PPIs and acid reflux, patients that visit our Beverly Hills facility have access to state-of-the-art diagnostic screenings and procedures. Some of the surgical treatments available for reflux include transoral incisionless fundoplication. A less invasive method of relieving reflux symptoms, this procedure reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter and helps heal esophageal damage. According to studies, fundoplication reversed esophageal damage in 90 percent of those treated.

Contact Gastroenterologists in Los Angeles

Although PPIs offer relief for many patients, taking these medications indefinitely—or in quantities exceeding the recommended daily dosages—could actually pose an additional risk to your health. Luckily, the board-certified doctors at the Reflux Center offer a number of effective treatments to help relieve your heartburn symptoms and get you back to enjoying life. If you would like to schedule a consultation at our Beverly Hills facility, feel free to call us at (888) 593-1042.