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Can Acid Reflux Medicine Increase the Risk of Kidney Disease?

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

Large numbers of people, primarily middle-aged and elderly people, regularly take medications to control heartburn and acid reflux. The most popular such medications are proton pump inhibitors that reduce the amount of acid secreted by the stomach lining. Proton pump inhibitors can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter, and they are sold under various brand names, including Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid. 

Side Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Douglas County elder care agencies have recently learned that although originally touted as being very safe, over the years, use of these medications has been linked to an elevated risk of bone fractures, pneumonia, and heart attacks. More recently, a large study reported that proton pump inhibitors may also increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. The study found that people using proton pump inhibitors increased their risk of developing chronic kidney disease by about 3 percent. How proton pump inhibitors lead to kidney disease is currently unknown, and it is also unclear how long proton pump inhibitors have to be used before they increase the risk of kidney disease. 

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a condition where the kidneys gradually stop functioning, allowing waste to build up in the body. Early stage chronic kidney disease has no symptoms, but as it progresses, symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and mental changes may manifest. End-stage kidney disease is treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant. If untreated, it is fatal. Most cases of chronic kidney disease in the United States are caused by poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure. 

Proper Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Due to these various health risks, experts strongly warn against chronic use of proton pump inhibitors. The proper way to use them is to take them for no more than 14 consecutive days. If acid reflux recurs, another 14-day course can be taken, but no more than three 14-day courses should be taken per year. Alternatives to proton pump inhibitors for controlled acid reflux include calcium carbonate tablets (e.g., Tums) and H2 blockers (e.g., Zantac), and dietary changes.

Interested in discovering more about senior health and wellness? Turn to Douglas County Home Care Assistance. We believe in changing the way the world ages through a proprietary approach to senior care that focuses on mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Learn more about our care services, including dementia and Alzheimer’s care for seniors in Douglas County, by calling 720-287-1685 and requesting a complimentary in-home consultation.