When you get an email with this introduction, you just know there is a great story! Dear RefluxMD, thank you for your work! You gave me the courage to get off of PPIs, and now I`m completely free! From Switzerland, here is Wendy’s story in her own words.
I am 56, at a healthy weight, but my hiatal hernia caused my reflux symptoms. Initially, I only needed one PPI to manage my symptoms, but over time they came back. Eventually, I ended up taking two, 40mg Pantoprazole daily for the next seven years. Over those years I attempted to stop taking PPIs, but each time I failed miserably because of acid rebound.
Recently I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, which I suspect is a result of daily PPIs. My doctor never seemed very interested in helping me to discontinue my PPI use, and told me that he didn`t think there were any side-effects. Even after my osteoporosis was diagnosed and I mentioned my concern, he said nothing was proven about PPIs and osteoporosis.
My osteoporosis diagnosis spurred me to do more research, and it was at that time I found RefluxMD. I read many of your articles and began to understand the real risks associated with my medication, which strengthened my resolve to stop taking PPIs. I was determined, at the very least, to reduce my use of them, even if I was unable to find complete freedom.
I would advise everyone to work with a specialist to develop and design a PPI step-down program, however, since I was unable to see a specialist for many months, I decided to develop a program on my own. It was much faster and easier than I would ever have thought possible. In several articles, RefluxMD noted that many people that take PPIs daily do not have a medical condition that requires daily use. At this time, I began to wonder if I ever needed them as well.
Wendy’s PPI Step-Down Program
I hope my PPI step-down program will help others seeking to eliminate daily PPI use. My normal dose was 40 mg of Pantoprazole twice daily, one in the morning and one at night.
First two weeks
I reduced my morning PPI to 3/4 of my normal dose and continued my normal evening dose. I also eliminated all foods from my diet that might trigger my symptoms. This included all products made with white flour, sugar, white rice, chocolate, garlic and onions, black tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks. I also decided to avoid gluten foods and milk products for the first month until I could be tested for both by a specialist. I also focused on eating slower and utilized modified breathing techniques to reduce any feelings of stress.
I reduced my PPI dose to 1/2 of my normal dose in the morning and maintained my normal dose at night, which is when I have my worst symptoms.
With no symptoms noted, I switched to a less powerful antacid, Ranitidine 150mg, in the morning, and kept my Pantoprazole at the normal dose at night. I noted an increase in flatulence and minor reflux symptoms, but nothing like I had feared. To treat those symptoms, I took a bite of a raw potato with the skin on, chewing long and well before swallowing (not as ghastly as it sounds!), and also a spoonful of Almond Purée. The latter seemed to help most, and today I still take a spoonful before bed.
I reduced my morning dose of Ranitidine by ½ to 75 mg and maintained my evening dose of Pantoprazole at normal levels.
I reduced my evening Pantoprazole by half to a 20mg tablet, still taking 75mg Ranitidine in mornings. One evening I had pasta with tomato sauce, and I was surprised I only had minor symptoms with very little pain. I just took a spoonful of Almond Purée, which seemed to help.
In the absence of symptoms, I stopped taking my morning dose leaving me with just one 20mg Pantoprazole at night.
Finally, I switched to just one Ranitidine in the evening, giving up the Pantoprazole completely (forever, I hope) – hooray! I felt that was a huge milestone.
Since I was sleeping better and feeling great, I stopped taking the Ranitidine. Occasionally I used a bit of bicarbonate of soda in water along with my regular spoonful of Almond Purée.
It has only been three weeks since that last change, and after a large meal (mistake) I was up for an hour at night once with minor reflux. However, but I didn`t use any medications, which I think is a great victory! I still use extra pillows to raise my upper body at night and lying flat just doesn`t seem to be possible, but that’s a small price to pay. After all, I still have a hiatal hernia, and that hasn`t gone away.
Learn More: What to expect if you reduce your PPI use
Wendy is PPI free today!
I still have to avoid onions and garlic, but I am eating cooked tomatoes, slightly spicy food (but not in the evening), milk, whole-wheat flour, and occasionally something sweet; and I feel great with no symptoms!
I hope my story will encourage others to find freedom from PPIs. Here’s my advice if you start a PPI step-down program:
- Take your time. You don’t want to sabotage your attempt by rushing it.
- Listen to your body, but don’t be afraid to keep taking tiny steps forward!
- Do keep to your antireflux diet (avoiding trigger foods) as you reduce your medications.
- Be sure to give it all you’ve got! You just want to give yourself the best chance you can.
- It`s OK to go back up a dose if you are struggling for a day or so. Keep your medications handy – don`t throw them away!
When I was nervous and unsure, RefluxMD helped me by motivating me and providing practical advice. I hope others will have the courage to make a similar change. There are many adults like me who have been taking daily PPIs unnecessarily. If so, try a step-down program to find out if you can live without them, and I hope you have the same success as I have. Thanks again, RefluxMD!
RefluxMD’s thoughts on PPI step-down
We greatly appreciate Wendy’s openness to share her journey as she searched for her path to relief. Wendy, along with our medical advisors, encourages those desiring to stop their use of PPI medications, to work closely with their doctor and follow a step-down program such as that described above, or our medical advisors’ recommended program to wean off of these powerful drugs. We also agree with Wendy’s advice above; remember, this is a long-distance race, not a sprint, so take your time. With enough time, a good PPI step-down program, a physician partner, and persistence, we know you can do this!