Concerned about taking PPIs for the long haul? Or that maybe you’re taking more medication than you need to control your GERD symptoms? This guide is designed to help you wean off from your current regimen and find your ideal dose of acid reflux medication to adequately control symptoms, while avoiding rebound symptoms in the process.
What you should know before attempting to change your intake of medicine for acid reflux:
- This guide is intended for people with mild to moderate GERD (Stage 1 and 2), whose symptoms are well controlled on current medications.
- Remember that acid reducing medications are designed for symptom control. Your goal should be to take the least potent medication at the lowest dose to control your symptoms to your satisfaction.
- PPIs (most potent, but takes 48-72 hours to have its effect)
- H2 blockers (less potent/quicker to act than PPIs)
- Acid neutralizers (least potent/provide immediate relief of heartburn)
- Since reflux symptoms are so closely tied to lifestyle choices in people with mild/moderate GERD, this process is most effective when combined with smart lifestyle changes. Remember that adjusting your lifestyle and controlling your weight can help reduce your need for medications.
- Do not stop your medicine for acid reflux all at once. Making changes gradually will help you avoid rebound symptoms that may be worse than your actual baseline.
- You may find you’re able to change your medication regimen quite easily, either because your dose was too high to begin with or because you don’t actually have GERD. Or you may find that your disease is too severe to reduce your medication intake at all. Don’t lose sight of your goal: To find the dose of medication that is right for you.
How to wean off your dose of acid reflux medication
There is no perfect way to see if decreasing medications will work for you. The following process is based on an assumed regimen of two prescription-strength PPIs per day. The process can be adjusted, as necessary, if you have a different starting point. The basic goals are to gradually move from:
- PPIs down to H2 blockers down to antacids,
- Wean off a high dose down to low dose,
- Frequent use to less frequent use.
Key points to remember:
- Don’t go too fast. It takes time for your body to adjust to the changes you are making, so wait at least two weeks between significant changes.
- Stop making changes if your symptoms worsen beyond your satisfaction.
- At the end of the day, a “take it when you need it” strategy is best, whether that is antacids (best), H2 blockers, or the occasional PPI.
- Everyone is different. Some will be able to make significant reductions in their medications, while others will find they need stronger medications to control their symptoms.
Remember, any changes to your medication should be done in consultation with your physician.
Learn about rebound symptoms and what to expect if you try to reduce your medication dose.