Worldwide sales of antacid meds or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are estimated to be well over $6 billion a year.
What consumers often don’t realize is that antacid medications maybe doing harm to their kidneys.
“What these medications are supposed to do is reduce the acid output from the stomach in people who have heart burn, indigestion and acid reflux,” says Dr. Shezad Malik, a Texas based physician and trial lawyer who specializes in these types of cases.
“But what we are learning is that some of these antacid meds users have experienced some pretty significant side effects,” says Dr. Malik.
“In medical terms, the evidence shows that if you use these medications for some time then you are prone to developing a kidney injury or chronic kidney injury,” says Dr. Malik.
“In particular, Nexium users, and other PPI users, are vulnerable to a particular inflammatory process in the kidney known as acute interstitial nephritis and chronic interstitial nephritis. Left untreated it can lead to the need for dialysis and kidney failure,” adds Dr. Malik.
Kidney Disease and PPIs
Research pointing to serious problems with PPIs in long term users is piling up.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, January 2016, shows that those taking PPIs once a day had a 15% increased risk of chronic kidney disease. The study also shows that those who took PPIs twice a day were 46% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease.
The study also found that those who took PPIs had a 39% higher risk of kidney disease than patients that took H2 blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid & Zantac), a different type of drug used to treat acid reflux. In an April 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the risk of end-stage renal disease was 96% higher in those who took PPIs.
In April 2016, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) reported that PPIs - including Nexium - may lead to an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure.
In addition, many antacid medications create a kind ‘bio-feed system’ that essentially results in the stomach producing more acid and the need for more medication to get relief says Dr. Malik.
The problem is that when you stop taking it you end up secreting more acid. In other words, you take the medication, it reduces the acid output in your stomach and you feel better. The minute you stop you get an extra amount of acid output in your stomach, more than you would have gotten if you had otherwise not taken the medication. The acid comes back with a vengeance and you have to take the meds again,” says Dr. Malik.
The Problem Could Sneak Up on You
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“Your doctor doesn’t know that you are using over the counter PPIs,” says Dr. Malik. “So, there may come a time when you go in to your doctor with kidney symptoms and he/she is finding out for the first time that you’ve been taking antacid medication and now you have chronic kidney disease which may be irreversible,” says Dr. Malik.
“The whole idea here is that the consumer has not been adequately warned about the side effects of these drugs,” he adds. “So the first understanding that they may have is when they show up in their doctors office not feeling well and then as part of their work up they find out they have kidney failure or damage from taking these medications.”