Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a class of drug that reduces the flow of acid into the stomach. They are used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach ulcers and esophagitis.
Proton Pump Inhibitor Drugs
Examples of PPIs include:
- Omeprazole (Prilosec, Losec, Zegerid)
- Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- Pantoprazole (Protonix, Pantoloc)
- Rabeprazole (Aciphex, Pariet)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium).
How Do PPIs Work?
PPIs work by inhibiting the “pump” that adds acid to the stomach, making the interior of the stomach less acidic. Some PPI drugs are available over the counter, but most are taken by prescription. While PPIs are considered the most effective drugs for reducing gastric acid production and have relatively minimal side effects with short-term use, recent studies have shown that longer-term use has far more troublesome effects.
Side Effects of Using PPIs Long Term
Because the stomach is where food is broken down into nutrients to be digested, reducing the level of acid in the stomach also reduces the effectiveness of the digestive process. As a result, some nutrients fail to be broken down into a form where they can be absorbed by the body.
Long-term PPI use has been associated with deficiencies in levels of iron, magnesium and B12. Lack of iron causes anemia and can result in dizziness or fainting. Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle weakness and cramping, while a lack of B12 is associated with anemia.
PPI Kidney Failure/Disease
Long-term PPI use has also been linked to kidney disease in some users. In 2014, the FDA mandated a new warning for PPI medications regarding the link between PPIs and interstitial nephritis, a kidney disorder that causes inflammation between the kidney tubules.
Bad Reactions with Drugs
PPIs can reduce the efficacy of the anticoagulant drug – clopidogrel, which is used to inhibit blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. PPIs also affect the cancer drug methotrexate by interfering with the elimination of the drug from the body, which has toxic effects.
Bacterial Infections & Pneumonia
PPIs are associated with the bacterial infection clostridium difficile, which can cause diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. They are also associated with pneumonia, which can be potentially fatal.
Osteoporosis & Fractures
Evidence shows that PPIs can inhibit the absorption of calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures, particularly of the hip, wrist and spine. The FDA has issued a warning about the risks of fractures associated with PPI and added additional language to packaging.
Despite the risks of long-term use, PPIs are heavily prescribed without limitation on the duration of consumption, and are overprescribed. A study of a VA clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan showed that two-thirds of the prescriptions of PPI drugs were not for conditions that justified use of the drugs.
Taking PPI drugs creates a high chance of dependency. Discontinuing use of the drugs, especially after long-term use, causes the acid production in the stomach to rebound to levels even higher than before the drugs were taken.
In many cases, gastric conditions that could be treated with diet and lifestyle changes have been treated with PPIs instead, meaning less hazardous solutions are ignored.
Having PPI Side Effects?
If you have been taking PPIs for an extended period of time and have been suffering from the side effects of long-term use, schedule a free consultation with the Pope McGlamry PPI legal experts.