Alternatives to protein pump inhibitors

Q. I am 21 years old and regularly have stomach aches and cramps. Should I be concerned about it enough to see a doctor? Celia D., Romulus

A. Seeing a doctor would be prudent. An EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) scope of the upper digestive tract is indicated to make sure you do not have any bacteria in your stomach or any malabsorption problems due to celiac disease.

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Q. I’m on a protein pump inhibitor to manage my acid reflux but it isn’t helping anymore. What are the alternatives? Patrick B., Dearborn

A: Switching to an H2 Blocker is a good alternative. H2 Blockers reduce acid, are often prescribed as PPI alternatives and are sold over-the-counter (Zantac, Pepcid, Tagament). The respective generic versions (ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine) cost less than the brand names but require a prescription from your doctor. In the meantime, do some anti-reflux measures to help manage your symptoms — elevate the head of your bed so you are raised up slightly when you sleep and avoid foods that worsen reflux (caffeine, chocolate, carbonated beverages, etc.).

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Q. I just turned 50 and need to get a colorectal cancer screening. I do not have insurance and I cannot afford to pay cash up front for the procedure. Do you know of any resources? Jenni W., Taylor

A. ColonoscopyAssist offers a low-cost program for people who have high deductibles or are uninsured. Reviews and information about the program are online at You can request an appointment online or call them directly at (847) 986-8999. You can also apply now for subsidized health insurance through If you enroll by December 15th, your insurance will be active on Janaury 1, 2015. Preventative screenings are 100 percent covered when you are enrolled in an Affordable Care Act Marketplace plan.

Rana Sabbagh, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and nutrition. She is the founder of GastroCenter of Michigan and Experior Weight Loss Clinic, 23500 Park St., Suite 2B in Dearborn. Do you have a health question for Dr. Sabbagh? Submit it by email to:

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.