The majority of people who take heartburn medications such as PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are satisfied with the effect those medications have. Still, some 40% report at least occasional problems with heartburn caused by GERD, even while taking medications. In some cases, continued symptoms aren’t frequent, but in others, the medication may seem to do nothing whatsoever.
There are a few reasons why your heartburn medication may not seem to help. These include:
- Eating too many trigger foods: Prescription acid reflux medications such as PPIs aren’t foolproof. It is possible to overload them by eating too many trigger foods. When you eat, your stomach will always produce some acid to digest it, even when those amounts are lowered by medication. Certain foods trigger more acid in the stomach, possibly resulting in breakthrough symptoms.
- Taking them at the wrong time: In order to be most effective, acid reflux meds need to be taken when your stomach is producing acid—i.e. when it’s digesting something. If you take PPIs on an empty stomach, it’s not going to have a chance to do very much. Even drinking some milk or coffee can help increase the impact these medications have.
- Misdiagnosis: The cause of your acid reflux may not necessarily be acid related. It might result from stretching, muscle spasms, or even overeating. Alternatively, it might not be acid reflux at all. For instance, pain in the chest may be a sign of heart disease.
- Physiological issues: Heartburn medication is designed to counteract stomach acid. However, this does nothing if acid production isn’t the core problem. Physiological issues such as a hiatal hernia (which puts pressure on the stomach) or a weak lower esophageal sphincter (which is supposed to keep the bottom of the esophagus shut) cause chronic acid reflux. Medications may still help in these instances, but they won’t actually solve the problem.
If you are having trouble with heartburn even while taking medications, it could be worthwhile to consult with a reflux surgeon such as Dr. Malladi to pin down—and resolve—the exact cause. Contact the office of Malladi Bariatrics and Advanced Surgery today to scheduled your appointment.