Q. I have had intermittent heartburn for years. My doctor ordered an upper endoscopy to look at my esophagus and stomach. My esophagus is inflamed due to acid reflux. I was told to stay on prescription-strength pantoprazole indefinitely. But I worry about side effects. If I eat less acidic foods and don't experience heartburn, is it necessary to take this drug to keep my esophagus healthy?
A. Pantoprazole (Protonix) is a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). Drugs in this class are the most potent acid inhibitors. Examples of other PPIs include esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), and rabeprazole (AcipHex). Most are available in low doses and less expensive generic formulations over the counter. Doctors can prescribe higher doses if needed.
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About the Author
Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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