Heartburn, stomach acid medication linked to serious kidney damage

Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors – popular drugs commonly used to treated heartburn, acid reflux and ulcers – could lead to kidney damage and severe kidney disease.

This was the conclusion researchers came to after analyzing large collections of patient data held in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national databases. They report their findings in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Heartburn, stomach acid medication linked to serious kidney damage

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach. This is not the same as antacids, which reduce excess acid after it enters the stomach.

They are commonly used to relieve symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – a condition where food or liquid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus or food pipe.

PPIs are also used to treat peptic or stomach ulcers and damage to the lower esophagus caused by acid reflux. There are many names and brands of PPIs. Most work equally as well, although side effects may vary. Some are also available over the counter – that is, without a prescription.

Estimates for 2013 suggest that 15 million Americans were prescribed proton pump (PPIs) that year. The researchers suggest the actual number of PPI users in the US is likely to be higher, because some types are available without a prescription.

Common types of PPI include omeprazole (brand name Prilosec, also available over the counter), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (AcipHex), pantoprazole (Protonix), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) and Zegerid (omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate).

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