Does Prednisone cause acid reflux? (+3 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Prednisone causes acid reflux, how Prednisone causes acid reflux, what factors contribute to Prednisone-induced acid reflux, when to consult the healthcare provider and how to manage the condition. 

Does Prednisone cause acid reflux?

Yes, Prednisone can cause acid reflux in some patients. It can increase the production of stomach acid which may lead to heartburn or acid reflux (1). The increased stomach acid can irritate the lining of the oesophagus causing a sour taste in the mouth or chest pain (2).

The risk of acid reflux with prednisone is higher with higher doses and longer treatment durations. Several other factors can contribute to the incidence of acid reflux in patients taking prednisone. If you experience acid reflux while taking Prednisone then it is advised to inform your healthcare provider and have consultation.

How does Prednisone cause acid reflux?

Prednisone, a corticosteroid medication used to treat various inflammatory conditions (3) can cause acid reflux by stimulating the release of gastrin (4). Gastrin is the hormone that promotes stomach acid secretion. This results in acid reflux in the patient.  

Prednisone may also enhance the activity of the parietal cells of the stomach (5). These specialized cells are found in the stomach lining and are responsible for the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

Interference with the production of mucus and bicarbonate by Prednisone may also lead to acid reflux (6). Mucus and bicarbonate in the stomach help to protect the oesophagus from stomach acid. Delayed gastric emptying caused by Prednisone may also be a factor contributing to acid reflux in patients as a side effect (7).

What factors contribute to acid reflux while taking Prednisone?

Prednisone has a significant list of side effects. Even though Prednisone has its effects on the gastrointestinal tract, it might not be the sole cause of acid reflux in patients. Certain other factors can lead to it. These factors may include:

Dose and duration: Higher doses or prolonged use of Prednisone can increase the likelihood of developing acid reflux symptoms.

Individual sensitivity: Each person’s body reacts differently to medication. Some individuals may be more prone to acid reflux when taking prednisone as compared to others. 

Pre-existing conditions: People with a history of gastrointestinal issues including GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or gastritis may be more susceptible to acid reflux.

Concomitant medications: Certain medications such as NSAIDs can potentiate the acid-producing effects of Prednisone, increasing the risk of acid reflux (8).

Lifestyle: Factors like diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and sedentary lifestyle can contribute to acid reflux. Prednisone might exacerbate the effects, especially in individuals with predisposing lifestyle factors.

Body positioning: Lying down after taking Prednisone may exacerbate reflux symptoms as it can allow stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus more easily.

Understanding these factors can help individuals and healthcare providers mitigate the risk of acid reflux while using Prednisone.

When to consult your healthcare provider?

Experiencing acid reflux while taking Prednisone can be a common concern for individuals having this treatment. Knowing when to seek medical help and guidance is crucial for an adequate treatment regime. Following are some signs indicating it’s time to seek medical guidance in this situation.

  • If the symptoms of acid reflux persist despite lifestyle adjustments or over-the-counter remedies, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. 


  • If the severity of symptoms intensifies after starting Prednisone or if they become increasingly uncomfortable.


  • If the symptoms interfere significantly with the daily routine, sleep or eating habits.


  • Regular check-ins with the healthcare provider during Prednisone treatment can help monitor and manage potential side effects including acid reflux. ensuring optimal health throughout the treatment process.

It is crucial not to adjust or stop medication without the careful guidance of a healthcare provider. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs, potentially adjusting the medication dose, recommending lifestyle modifications or suggesting additional treatments to adjust acid reflux symptoms. 

What are pharmacological treatment options?

Here are some pharmacological treatment options that may be prescribed or suggested by your healthcare provider if the symptom does not subside.

Proton Pump Inhibitors: PPIs are the most effective medications for treating acid reflux (9). They work by blocking the production of stomach acid. PPIs are available in prescription as well as over-the-counter forms. Some of them are:

  • Omeprazole
  • Lansoprazole
  • Esomeprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Rabeprazole

Histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs): These are not as effective as PPIs but they can be a good option for people who have mild acid reflux or can’t take PPIs (10). Some of these include:

  • Famotidine
  • Cimetidine
  • Ranitidine
  • Nizatidine

Antacids: Antacids neutralize stomach acids and provide immediate relief from heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms. However, they do not heal the damage caused by acid reflux. Some commonly used antacids include:

  • Tums
  • Rolaids
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Maalox

How to manage acid reflux while taking Prednisone?

If you are experiencing acid reflux while taking Prednisone, the following can help you to manage the condition.

  • Taking Prednisone with food can help reduce its impact on the stomach lining and might alleviate acid reflux symptoms. This can also help in buffering the potential irritation to the lining.


  • Avoid trigger foods that commonly exacerbate the condition of acid reflux such as spicy, fatty, acidic or fried food. Opt for a balanced diet rich in proteins and dietary nutrients.


  • Remain in an upright position for at least 2-3 hours after eating. The position can help prevent stomach acid from refluxing.


  • Elevate your head while sleeping. Using a wedge pillow or elevating your head around 6-8 inches can aid in preventing nighttime reflux.


  • Drink plenty of water to help dilute the aid to reduce the irritation. 


  • If necessary your healthcare provider might prescribe antacids, H2 blockers or Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) to help manage acid reflux symptoms.


  • Employ stress-relieving techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise etc. Stress can exacerbate the condition as well.


In my opinion, Prednisone can lead to acid reflux as it can affect the stomach acid in multiple ways. This side effect of Prednisone is common. However, not everyone taking Prednisone may experience it. Open communication with your healthcare provider is essential for a complete recovery.

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