Long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of drugs used to relieve heartburn and damage from acid reflux, may lead to kidney damage.
Researchers looked at the medical records of more than 125,000 people who had taken PPIs for 5 years. Although the patients examined used prescription PPIs such as Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, those same drugs are widely available over the counter.
Those on PPIs had a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury compared to patients who had taken H2 blockers, another class of heartburn meds, the researchers reported in the journal Kidney International. H2 blockers include Pepcid and Zantac.
OTC heartburn meds aren’t as strong as their prescription counterparts, nor are they typically taken for as long as the prescription meds.
You can minimize the chances of acid reflux by avoiding fatty foods and overeating, and limiting use of alcohol and tobacco products.
A study published last year found that long-term use of OTC heartburn meds like Nexium can lead to weaker bones.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.