If you have severe or long-standing problems with acid reflux, then it might help to take medications that change the way your stomach produces acids. For example, you can take H2 receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
Both of these medications control acid reflux and reduce its unpleasant symptoms. However, they work differently. What are the differences between the two?
H2 Receptor Blockers: What to Know
H2 blockers target receptors on parietal cells on the surface of your stomach. These cells use histamine to produce acids. If you take blockers, then they prevent histamine from reaching the cells. This reduces the amount of acid they can produce.
H2 blockers usually start working soon after you start taking them. They will improve your acid reflux symptoms immediately because less acid will come up from the top of your gastric system. They also allow damaged tissues to heal by reducing the amount of acid they have to deal with.
However, the effects of H2 blockers can be relatively short-lived. They can't suppress acid for long periods, so their beneficial effects might wear off between doses.
Doctors often prescribe H2 blockers for milder cases of acid reflux. They are often a short-term fix. However, they can also help people who have milder cases of more serious conditions such as GERD.
PPIs: What to Know
PPIs also reduce the production of stomach acids; however, these drugs work further down in this system. They target your gastric proton pump.
This pump also produces acid; it is the final step in your stomach's acid-production system. When you take PPIs, they bind to the pump and block it so that it can't work normally. This also allows acid-damaged tissues to heal.
PPIs take longer to work than H2 blockers. So, you might get some immediate relief; however, you won't see the full benefits of your treatment for a few weeks.
The effects of these medications grow over time. However, PPIs can reduce acid production at higher rates than blockers, so they can better control more severe acid reflux problems.
You're more likely to be prescribed PPIs if you have long-term acid reflux problems. They are also more commonly used if you have other conditions which significantly affect your gastric acid production such as GERD, peptic ulcers, or esophagitis.
To find out which of these medications would be a good acid reflux treatment for you, talk to your doctor.