Medication for Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is most likely associated with many years of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This results in chronic exposure of the esophagus to the acidic contents of the stomach.

If you are already taking medication to control GERD, your NYU Langone doctor may recommend a higher or more frequent dose. Managing reflux may reduce the risk of cancer in people with Barrett’s esophagus.

H2 Blockers

H2 receptor antagonists, also called H2 blockers, reduce stomach acid by blocking the action of histamine, a substance that secretes stomach acid. 

This medication, which comes in tablet, capsule, liquid or powder form, is taken by mouth and is often effective in reducing GERD symptoms for several hours. It is available in nonprescription and prescription strengths. H2 blockers should be taken as directed by your doctor.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors, often called PPIs, significantly block the production of acid in the lining of the stomach, thereby reducing acid reflux. PPIs provide greater acid reduction than H2 blockers, and doctors may prescribe them when GERD symptoms are persistent and severe or if other medications are ineffective in managing severe GERD symptoms. 

Proton pump inhibitors are available in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths. Because these medications are generally well tolerated, they can be taken for a long period of time. However, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors may prevent the body from absorbing vitamin B12 and calcium, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures. Your doctor can explain the risk of these side effects.

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