Recent research has shown that certain medications used in treating heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux are linked to chronic kidney disease. A class of drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) has been shown to greatly increase the likelihood of developing kidney problems further down the road.
About 15 million Americans take PPI medications. They are commonly sold under the brand names of Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid. According to researchers, these medications are extremely common. Such medications were originally approved in the 1980s, and most experts initially believed they were very safe. Since then, the drugs have been linked to bone fractures, infections and heart issues.
In order to examine whether or not PPIs increased the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health conducted a study by looking at the medical records of various individuals. They found that those taking PPIs were more likely to develop chronic kidney disease at some point.
However, the researchers stressed that the study was not conclusive and that more research needs to be done to confirm the association. The study also did not take into consideration just how long an individual had been taking a PPI. Still, the researchers offered the recommendation that people should only take PPIs if they are absolutely needed. Ultimately, extreme caution should be taken when using PPIs.
Internal medicine resident at the University of California San Francisco Adam Schoenfeld said, “"I think it's a pretty big concern. When they (PPIs) first came out they weren't associated with side effects, or we didn't think they were. So we put people on this medication thinking, 'It's a quick fix and they're very safe.' But in actuality they're associated with a range of side effects."
In the end, Schoenfeld advises people to try other methods to alleviate heartburn and indigestion before resorting to PPIs. Some better solutions include changing one’s diet, quitting smoking and reducing one’s consumption of alcohol.