Alternatives to Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, are medicines that help reduce the acid production in the stomach. PPIs work by interfering with the mechanism that pumps acid into the stomach, states the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Proton pump inhibitors are very effective in treating peptic ulcers, but there are alternatives that can be used to treat the disease. Choosing which treatment regimen is best for a patient requires an understanding of all the different options.

Proton pump inhibitors, effective medications for peptic ulcers, can be replaced with a number of other medications. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Histamine Blockers

Histamine blockers, or H-2 blockers, are medications that can be used as an alternative to proton pump inhibitors in the treatment of peptic ulcer, states MayoClinic.com. Histamine is a normal substance within your body. When histamine combines with a histamine receptor, acid-secreting cells in the stomach begin to release hydrochloric acid. Histamine blockers prevent histamine from binding to histamine receptors, and this reduces acid production in the stomach. Examples of H-2 blockers include ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine. These drugs are available over the counter or in prescription form. Side effects of H-2 blockers include nausea, vomiting and upset stomach.

Antibiotics

Patients who have been diagnosed with ulcers caused by an infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, can be effectively treated with antibiotics, according to The New York Times Health Guide. H. pylori contributes to the disruption of the lining of the stomach. Once the lining has been eroded, acid can further damage the tissues of the stomach and cause an ulcer. Antibiotics eradicate the H. pylori infection and allow the stomach tissue to heal over the ulcer without interference from the bacteria. Commonly, patients are given the antibiotics clarithromycin or amoxicillin. Some physicians will replace one of these antibiotics with metronidazole. In either case, a combination of at least two antibiotics should be used for seven to 14 days in order to ensure eradication of the H. pylori bacteria.

Cytoprotective Drugs

Some doctors will give patients medications that protect the cells that line the stomach and small intestine, states MayoClinic.com. These drugs provide a coating that prevents the stomach acid from attacking the stomach lining. Such drugs are called cytoprotective drugs, and include sucralfate, misoprostol and bismuth subsalicylate. Sucralfate and misoprostol are medications that can only be prescribed by a doctor. Misoprostol should never be used in pregnant patients because it can induce a miscarriage. Bismuth subsalicylate, more commonly known as Pepto-Bismol, is an example of a nonprescription cytoprotective drug.

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