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How Do PPIs Work?

Image of proton pump inhibitor process

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are some of the most commonly used treatments available over the counter for symptoms of frequent heartburn (heartburn that occurs two or more days a week). In this article, we’ll help answer common questions around PPIs such as what they are and how long they take to work. We’ll also touch on whether PPIs could be a good option for you and managing your symptoms.

What Are PPIs? 

PPI are a class of medication that helps reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.1,2  By reducing the amount of stomach acid produced by the glands located in the lining of the stomach, PPIs can help relieve symptoms related to acid reflux. They are not intended to treat medical conditions.

PPIs like esomeprazole, the active ingredient in Nexium 24HR, are available over the counter and by prescription, depending on what they’re used for.

OTC PPIs can be used for frequent heartburn. Otherwise, stronger dosage PPIs may be prescribed to help treat symptoms of more serious conditions such as GERD. Esomeprazole has been safely prescribed to millions of people over the last 15 years. 2,3

How Long do PPIs Take to Work? 

If your healthcare provider has recommended taking PPIs for frequent heartburn or another condition, it’s important to remember to take your medication regularly and time it with mealtime as these factors can affect its efficiency. 3

When using a PPI to get relief for frequent heartburn, take one capsule with a glass of water before eating each morning for 14 consecutive days. Do not take more than one capsule each day. You should not chew the capsule or empty its contents into food or drink.

It's also important to note that you should not use PPIs for longer than 14 days unless your healthcare professional directs you to do so. You can repeat a14-day regimen once every four months. With over-the-counter PPIs, it may take one to four days for you to feel the full effect. Contact your healthcare professional with any additional concerns regarding dosage.

Dealing with frequent heartburn can be exhausting and frustrating. That burning sensation accompanied by discomfort is not something a person wants to experience regularly. In order to reap the benefits from medication like PPIs, it’s important to be patient and consistent. As with any medication, work closely with your healthcare provider to discuss what your treatment course might look like. 

  1. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). About Gerd. https://www.aboutgerd.org/medications/proton-pump-inhibitors-ppis.html.  Accessed 3/9/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.
  2. Proton Pump Inhibitors. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000381.htm. Accessed 3/9/2021. 
  3. Is your heartburn pill working for you? Harvard Medical School. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/is-your-heartburn-pill-working-for-you. Accessed 3/10/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.