Q&A: Prontonix

Q: What do I need to know about protonix?

A: Protonix, or pantoprazole, is a type of medication that is known as a proton-pump inhibitor that is used to treat people who have problems related to stomach acid. Ordinarily, the stomach secretes a small amount of acid, which is kept in the stomach pouch by a small muscle called a sphincter, at the bottom of the esophagus. Sometimes, however, the sphincter doesn’t close completely and allows the acid in the stomach to flow backwards up into the esophagus. This occurrence is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and can cause a burning sensation or sometimes even damage to the esophagus itself. Other patients have health conditions which can lead to too much acid in the stomach, which can cause some of the same symptoms.

Protonix can help treat symptoms and prevent or heal damage that occurs from the excess acid in the stomach and esophagus. It works by blocking a particular enzyme (“proton-pumps) within the gastrointestinal tract, essentially turning off the system that tells the body to make more acid in the stomach. The lower amount of acid leads to reduced heartburn and indigestion pain, as well as the healing of ulcers in the stomach.