Minimize risks of long-term acid blocker therapy

Q: I regularly take over-the-counter omeprazole for acid reflux and have been doing this for many years. Some days I need to double the dose. I would like to get off it. But when I stop the omeprazole, the heartburn comes right back. What can I do?

A: Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Drugs in this class are the most potent stomach acid inhibitors.

While proton pump inhibitors are very safe for short-term use, there are several concerns about taking them for a long time. One problem is just what you experience. Rebound heartburn.

Rebound heartburn happens because the acid suppression leads to an increase in the number and activity of acid producing cells in...