Feb 22, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Common Heartburn Drugs May Damage Your Kidney

Feb 24, 2017 02:40 PM EST

Modern medicines prescribed to control heartburn are easily available and very popular among millions of people all over the world. However, a new study has suggested that the intake of these popular medicines can lead to long-term kidney damage without any prior warning.

According to CBC News, these drugs, known as the Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), reduce the symptoms of heartburn by lowering the amount of acid in the stomach. Brand names like Losec, Nexium and Prevacid are included in this category of drugs. Patients previously monitored for acute kidney problems, came in with symptoms like decreased urination, swelling in the legs, ankles or feet, and nausea. These symptoms were thought to be a warning for more permanent kidney damage, leading doctors to take patients off the drugs.

The latest research shows that the heartburn medicines tend to cause kidney damage very silently. It erodes kidney very minimally and very gradually over time. The researchers analyzed data from 125000 US patients using PPIs and found more than half who went on to develop chronic kidney damage, had no prior acute kidney problems. The study also found that the people using PPIs had a 20 percent on an average increase in developing chronic kidney disease, compared with those taking H2 blockers such as Zantac or Pepcid.

According to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in a follow-up of over five years, the researchers found that more than 80 percent of PPI users did not develop acute kidney problems. These are often reversible and are characterized by too little urine leaving the body, fatigue and swelling in the legs and ankles. However, more than half of the cases of chronic kidney damage and end-stage renal diseases associated with PPI usage occurred in people without acute kidney problems.

The end-stage renal disease occurs when the kidney is no longer able to remove waste from the body. Among new users of H2 blockers, 7.67 percent developed chronic kidney disease in the absence of acute kidney problems, and 1.27 percent developed end-stage renal diseases.

To avoid the ill effects of the drugs found in heartburn medicines, the doctors must pay careful attention to kidney functions in patients who use PPIs, even when there is no sign of problems. The clinicians are advised to evaluate whether the concerned patient is required to use PPIs in the first place or not.     

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