Proton pump inhibitors, also known as PPIs, are quite popular and come in various brands like Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, and Protonix. Doctors usually prescribe these for heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux.
They’re effective because they reduce gastric acid, easing the discomfort of these conditions. In fact, more than 15 million Americans have PPI prescriptions.
Additionally, a large number of people purchase these drugs over the counter without a doctor’s supervision.
What’s the Issue?
Now, you might be thinking, “So what’s the problem?” Well, research has shown that using PPIs for extended periods can lead to severe kidney problems, including kidney failure.
Red Flags Aren’t Always Obvious
Usually, the sudden onset of kidney issues acts as a warning for doctors to stop their patients’ use of PPIs. But this isn’t always the case.
A recent study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis found that more than half of the patients who develop chronic kidney damage while taking PPIs don’t show any acute kidney issues beforehand.
This means that a patient might not realize that their kidney function is declining.
In the study, researchers examined the use of PPIs in 125,000 patients. Over a follow-up period of five years, they discovered that more than 80% of PPI users did not develop acute kidney problems.
Now, acute kidney problems are often reversible and are associated with symptoms such as insufficient urine production, fatigue, and swelling in the legs and ankles.
However, in more than half the cases where chronic kidney damage and end-stage renal disease were linked to PPI use, these happened in people who did not experience any acute kidney problems.
This suggests that kidney problems can develop silently and gradually over time, leading to long-term kidney damage or even renal failure without any clear warning signs.
What Should You Do?
The implications of this study are crucial. If you’re taking PPIs, inform your doctor, especially if you’re taking them without a doctor’s prescription. Also, only use these drugs when necessary.
The study underscores the importance of being alert to the potential risks of long-term use of PPIs and discussing these risks with your healthcare provider.
Remember, it’s always best to be informed and cautious when it comes to your health.
The study was conducted by Ziyad Al-Aly and the team and was published in Kidney International.
If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to protect your kidneys from diabetes, and scientists find the key to the treatment of kidney diseases.
For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about how to live long with kidney disease, and common painkillers that may harm the heart, kidneys, and more.
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