Proton pump inhibitors are medications that reduce the amount of acid produced by glands in the lining of the stomach, according to the National Institute of Health, or NIH. They are used to treat acid reflux, ulcers and damage to the lower esophagus.
Several proton pump inhibitors are available, but the only one available over the counter is omeprazole, according to the NIH. This medication is sometimes sold under the brand name Prilosec. Other proton pump inhibitors include esomeprazole (for which the brand name is Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (AcipHex), pantoprazole (Protonix) and Dexlansoprazole (Kapidex).
A doctor might prescribe one of the above medications as a treatment for acid reflux, which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Typically, the patient takes the medication 30 minutes before the first meal of the day, according to the NIH. Some people with acid reflux need to take proton pump inhibitors every day, whereas others only need to take them every other day. People with ulcers often take proton pump inhibitors for eight weeks in combination with other medications. The NIH recommends that patients try to take proton pump inhibitors at the same time each day and continue taking them for as long as the prescribing doctor recommends.