Have you been using heartburn medication classified as a proton pump inhibitor? You might be disheartened to learn that a medication you thought was helping you has actually been linked to serious side effects and long-lasting damage for your kidneys.
What Is a Proton Pump Inhibitor?
A proton pump inhibitor is a medication that is traditionally used to treat acid reflux, GERD, and severe heartburn. It may be prescribed because a patient is initially diagnosed with one of those conditions or because a medication a patient takes causes heartburn.
When the patient takes a proton pump inhibitor, some of the acid pumps in the stomach stop working. This reduces the symptoms of acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn. However, proton pump inhibitors (also referred to as PPIs) aren’t meant for long-term use. Studies have shown that when patients take a PPI for an extended period of time and stop taking it, their symptoms can get worse. If a patient never had acid reflux and only took the drug because of a potential side effect of another medication, they may develop active symptoms when they stop taking the drug.
The potential of developing acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn isn’t the only concern with long-term use of proton pump inhibitors. Studies have shown that taking a PPI can cause serious health risks including, but not limited to, kidney problems and cardiovascular issues.
What Drugs Are Proton Pump Inhibitors?
Some of the most common drugs classified in this category include Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec. As you may have noticed, these medications are available over the counter and by prescription. Both OTC and prescription PPIs come with the same risks. As previously mentioned, these medications work by treating heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD conditions by decreasing stomach acid by shutting off some of the stomach acid pumps. According to new research out of Johns Hopkins University, individuals who use these medication face significantly higher risks for chronic kidney disease. These drugs are used by more than 15 million people across the country. Many of those individuals taking the medication may not even need it.
The most recent data suggest that individuals taking these medications could have risks 20 percent to 50 percent higher than individuals not using these medicines. Currently, research has not identified a cause and effect relationship, but it’s expected that further study may yield more information. The current study also indicated that one-quarter (that is 25 percent) of current users could benefit from discontinued use of the medication without any negative side effects related to acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn. More than 10,000 individuals responded in this particular research study directly, and the health records of a further 250,000 participants were also evaluated.
However, some studies have shown that when patients stop taking the PPI that their heartburn or acid reflux symptoms worsen or they develop symptoms if they took the drug to prevent side effects from taking another medication. Sometimes, this causes patients who want to stop taking the drug to go back to it for relief. This renews the chance that the patient may suffer from some devastating and life-altering side effects in the future.
Chronic kidney disease was not the only potentially negative outcome noticed, either. Individuals using proton pump inhibitors were also more likely to have a broad range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart issues, and obesity, all of which have their own complications and side effects. Some physicians have already been hesitant to recommend these drugs because of their link to infections, pneumonia, and bone fractures. It’s also important to think about any existing health condition that you deal with. Existing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes create a risk of heart and kidney problems. Taking a proton pump inhibitor when you have a serious chronic condition could increase your risks of chronic kidney disease or cardiovascular problems.
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Why Is Chronic Kidney Disease A Concern?
If you have been taking these medications for some time and did not realize the dangerous side effects, you are not alone. One of the main complaints lodged by individuals who suffered from chronic kidney disease as a result of taking a proton pump inhibitor is that they weren’t informed by their doctor, their pharmacist, or in the paperwork that came with the medication. They argue that if they had known that such a serious risk existed, they may have chosen a different treatment. Individuals suffering from chronic kidney disease may ultimately experience kidney failure, generating a need for dialysis and a potential kidney transplant down the line. This can yield catastrophic impacts for your life. You may no longer be able to work. You would need consistent and sometimes emergency medical care. You’d experience a dramatic increase in the cost of your medical care. You could even need to make specific changes to your lifestyle involving what you eat and drink to keep your kidneys working for as long as possible.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of chronic kidney disease, now is a good time to get checked out by your physician to discuss your options. Consulting with an experienced doctor may help give you an idea of your choices with regard to treatment. That being said, you should also set up a meeting with the compassionate attorneys at the Goldwater Law Firm. You may have grounds for filing a proton pump inhibitor lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer, and in this case, it’s better to act sooner rather than later.
- Retention of fluid – Common areas of fluid retention include the hands, feet, ankles, and the face.
- Fatigue that is above what you normally experience.
- Electrolyte imbalances – Your body needs electrolytes to properly function. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, tachycardia, seizures, irritability, and headaches.
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- High blood pressure
There are many different side effects associated with proton pump inhibitors. While some of these may be minor, others can be severe. The most serious side effects most often connected to proton pump inhibitors include:
- Lower magnesium levels – Magnesium is used in more than 300 processes that take place in your body. It helps control your blood sugar and your blood pressure.
- Severe rash
- Speech disorder
- Birth defects
If you suspect that your kidney problems may be related to use of these medications, it’s important to understand the status of the issue now so that you can understand your options. There has been no FDA action at this point in time related to the heart attack concerns or kidney issues potentially associated with these drugs.
When you’re considering moving forward with legal action against a dangerous drug manufacturer, it’s important to have experience and dedication on your side. Working with the Goldwater Law Firm, you get both. The manufacturers of PPIs have a team of lawyers working to protect them. You need Goldwater Law Firm to help protect your legal rights if you have been seriously injured as a result of taking one of these dangerous drugs. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you believe that you have been seriously injured by a proton pump inhibitor. To schedule a consultation with one of our practicing attorneys, please give us a call at 1-800-210-9700 or complete our inquiry contact form.