Treatments for Ulcer and Heartburn May Cause Damage to the Kidney

Prolonged use of drugs used in treating ulcers, heartburn and related ailments may lead to serious damage to the kidney, new report shows.

In the last decade, milestones have been made when it comes to treating ulcer and heartburn. Modern treatments which are majorly comprised of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are faster acting, more effective, and are easily available over the counter. The latest study however is painting a gloomy picture about these drugs as they put a user at a high risk of damaging the kidneys.

In a report found in the American Society of Nephrology journal, researchers are stating that the PPIs can contribute to chronic kidney diseases, declining kidney function and even total kidney failure. The damaging effects were progressive and the longer the time of use the more serious the conditions were. Kidney

The researchers relied on data of people using the PPIs gathered from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) database. Statistics in the market indicate that at least 15 million people were currently using proton pump inhibitors though the number is possibly higher since the treatment can be bought over the counter or online.

Though they serve the same purpose of reducing acid excess inside the stomach, PPIs work differently from the common antacids. Proton pump inhibitors lower the amount of acid by targeting the stomach glands and lining while antacids only target the acid that is found inside the stomach.

According to Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, senior author and nephrologist based at Saint Louis Health Care Centre, studies were done on data that covered 5 years and focused on use of drugs that suppress the acid in the stomach. 173, 000 individuals were using PPIs while another 20,000 were put on H2 receptor blockers.

The common symptom of excess stomach acid is the burning effect felt in the gut as food and drinks try to move up the esophagus instead of continuing on, a condition referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or simply acid reflux.

Findings from the experiment showed that people using PPIs were 28 percent more likely to get chronic kidney disease. No such cases were indicated in patients who were using H2 receptor blockers.

Al-Aly suggests that though PPIs are effective in decreasing excess acid in the stomach, the amount given should be used in moderation and only when it is needed. Using it too often may lead to serious health problems in future.