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According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million people in the United States experience heartburn or acid reflux at least once a month. Although some individuals may be able to treat this with over-the-counter medicine, some people are recommended by doctors to take proton pump inhibitors. However, proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, have been largely linked to kidney failure. 

A study found that 7.8% of U.S. adults were taking proton pump inhibitors. However, taking popular heartburn medications for long periods has been linked to serious kidney problems, including kidney failure. A red flag for doctors to discourage the use of so-called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is the sudden onset of kidney problems seen in patients.

What are Proton Pump Inhibitors?

A drug used to ease the symptoms of acid-related conditions, Some of these conditions include severe acid-reflux/heartburn, peptic ulcers (a sore in the lining of the stomach), GERD, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a condition in which tumors in the pancreas cause the stomach to produce too much acid. Overall these medications have among the highest sales levels in the United States, approaching nearly $10 billion dollars in 2012

They are abundantly prescribed, rarely prescribed, and frequently purchased over the counter. Currently, there are six PPIs available:

  • Dexilant
  • Nexium
  • Prevacid
  • Prilosec
  • Protonix
  • Aciphex

All of these PPIs are done by prescription. It is important to speak to your doctor to ensure that the use of a PPI is appropriate. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may give you a PPI for only a few weeks, or you may need longer treatment. 

How do Proton Pump Inhibitors work? 

PPI is a powerful acid-reducing drug that targets proton pumps in the stomach. These tiny pumps cause a chemical reaction that produces stomach acid, which PPIs help limit the amount of acid the pumps produce.  

The inhibitors are absorbed by the body into the bloodstream. From there, they send signals to the acid-forming cells in the stomach lining, which tells the cells to reduce the amount of acid that they produce. 

What are the risks of using proton pump inhibitors? 

Although traditionally considered to be safe and well-tolerated medications, research now suggests that certain risks may be involved with the long-term use of these drugs. Depending on your overall health and how long you have been taking this medication, there can be different health concerns and side effects. Before taking the drug you must’ve consulted with your healthcare provider to make sure that this is the best type of care for your situation. Here are some of the risks and issues that have happened to some people:

Increased chance of heart attack

If used for a long period (many months to years of use) PPI may increase the chance of a heart attack. It isn’t clear as to why this may happen, but studies have shown that the use of PPI increases this risk. 

Nutritional deficiencies

The use of PPIs may make it hard for your body to absorb or keep nutrients that are necessary for good health, such as magnesium and iron. 

Increased chance of dementia

With older patients, there is a concern for an increased association between PPI use and dementia. This is thought to be caused because PPIs are in the blood that goes to the brain while interfering with B12 absorption in the body. 

Increased chance of infections

There is a concern of developing infections when using PPIs. Since there is a decrease production of stomach acid, which is used to help fight infections, bacteria and viruses can stay in your system, and infect other parts of your body. You have a higher risk of infection if you have asthma, decreased immunity, lung disease, or are older. 

Increased chance of bone fracture and bone loss

Researchers believe that using PPIs can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium or vitamin B12. Therefore, it raises the risk of spine, wrist, and hip fractures. This is especially true if you have using PPIs for a long period and are 50 years of age or older. 

Acute interstitial nephritis

This results in swelling of the inside of the kidney. This can happen because of an allergic reaction. Swelling on the inside of your kidney can cause damage, and if left untreated can cause serious health problems. If caught early, the condition can be treated and leave no signs of damage to your kidneys. 

Increased chance of chronic kidney disease.

Some studies suggest there is an increased risk of chronic kidney disease in individuals who have normal kidney function before using a PPI.

Research that shows the association between kidney failure and PPIs

According to a study by researchers, the use of PPIs in 125,000 patients indicated that more than half of patients develop chronic kidney damage while taking the drug. In addition, the research says that many patients don’t experience acute kidney problems beforehand. In other words, patients weren’t aware of a decline in kidney function. This makes it even more dangerous for patients. For these reasons, those who take the drug, as well as, their doctors should be more vigilant in monitoring the use of these medications. 

A senior author of the study said that the results indicated that kidney problems could develop silently and gradually over time. Due to the side effects such as heart problems and kidney damage, there were a number of people who took PPIs that ended up filing lawsuits against the drugmakers. 

What are the signs of kidney failure?

Usually, someone with kidney failure will exhibit a few symptoms of the disease. Sometimes, there is no symptoms present. However, if there are any symptoms, they would be presented as: 

  • Excessive drowsiness or fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Pain or pressure in your chest
  • Swelling of the legs, feet, and ankles from retina fluids caused by the failure of the kidneys to eliminate water waste
  • Coma

In addition, it may be difficult to pinpoint symptoms in the early stages of kidney disease. They are subtle and hard to identify. Some of the early signs of kidney disease may include:

  • Fluid retention that leads to swelling in limbs
  • Decreased urine output
  • Shortness of breath

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we can help

If you or a loved one is experiencing kidney problems after taking any brand of PPIs, get in contact with one of our skilled PPI Kidney Lawsuit Lawyers. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that the side effects can be life-altering. We want to help you receive the compensation that you deserve and hold the drugmakers accountable. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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