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Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Introduced in the late 1980s, Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are used for the treatment of acid-related disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal reflux disorders. Long-term use of PPIs, including Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium, may result in Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN), which is a condition where the spaces between the tubules of the kidney cells become inflamed. While individuals who suffer from AIN can recover, most will suffer from some level of permanent kidney function loss. In rare cases, individuals suffering from PPI-induced AIN will require a kidney transplant.

Use of PPIs has increased in the U.S. from 3.4 percent to 7.0 percent among men and from 4.8 percent to 8.5 percent among women from 1999-2000 to 2011-2013, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and 14.9 million patients received 157 million prescriptions for PPIs in 2012.

Medication names:

  • Prilosec
  • Prevacid
  • Nexium

    PPIs can have serious side-effects, including increased vulnerability to infections and nutritional deficiencies. As a result, individuals taking PPIs are at an increased risk of salmonella, Clostridium difficile, and possibly pneumonia. A reduction of stomach acid can also mean problems with digestion. If stomach acid levels get too low, it can be difficult for users to get the necessary nutrients, minerals, and vitamins they need from food. This may increase their risk of fractured bones.

    Some researchers have recently expressed concern about the potential of an increased risk of dementia among PPI users. The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn conducted a study of 73,679 individuals 75 years of age and older. According to their results, regular users of PPIs in the study had at least a 44% increased risk of dementia. While researchers are unclear on what exactly may cause this increased risk, it shouldn’t be ignored.

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