Proceed With Caution: The Hidden Dangers of Acid Reducing Medications

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While the term “proton pump inhibitors” may not ring a bell, chances are, you know someone using them. Doctors recommend and prescribe this line of drugs to everyone from babies to senior citizens for the treatment of acid-related disorders such as heartburn, reflux, stomach ulcers, and GERD. Some are available over the counter (Prilosec OTC, Prevacid 24HR, Zegerid OTC) and others require a prescription (Nexium, Dexilant, Vimovo). For many patients, the benefits outweigh the risks. Others have suffered grave consequences after taking these drugs without realizing their potential link to chronic kidney disease, as well as other side effects. Whether you know someone who was harmed by PPIs, are currently taking them yourself, or simply wondering what the headlines are all about, consider these five alarming truths about some of America’s best-selling drugs.

They are potentially overused.
An estimated 15 million Americans are currently using PPIs that have been prescribed by a doctor; however, since some are available over the counter, this number is likely a serious underestimate. With the ability to purchase high-strength acid-reducing drugs at the local grocery store, many self diagnose and treat their conditions with PPIs when a milder option would work.

There are alternatives.
If you suffer from acid-related discomfort, a PPI may have been the first drug recommended, but there are options that work differently and may have less side effects. H2 blockers, for example, are another line of drugs that work by reducing stomach acid production, promoting healing of the esophagus. Your doctor can also recommend certain diet changes or supplements that may help.

Studies show they could be deadly.
A recent study found that patients who took PPIs had a 96 percent increased risk of developing kidney failure and a 28 percent increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD), compared to patients who treated their symptoms with H2 blockers instead. There seems to be a direct link between duration of PPI use and kidney problems, making those who’ve used the drugs over a long period of time especially at risk.

Stopping the drugs could be painful.
After learning about long-term risks, many patients are eager to discontinue their PPI use; however, the rebound symptoms are often stronger and more painful than the original condition. For this reason, many patients jump back on their PPI immediately. It is difficult to fully come off of these drugs, making long-term use more likely.

Kidney disease is not the only side effect.
PPIs have a range of other common side effects. While they may not be as threatening as chronic kidney disease, they can cause serious disruptions to a patient’s life. Among these side effects are headache, nausea, digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea, or even bacterial pneumonia. PPIs can also interact poorly with other drugs, so even drugs purchased over the counter should be discussed with your doctor.

Contact An Attorney

If you have suffered a serious side effect that you believe is a result of a PPI drug, contact the attorneys at Ward Black Law today. We can provide a free consultation to better assess the viability of your case, as well as next steps.