Prolonged use of drugs to treat heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux may lead to serious kidney damage, including kidney failure. This was the message of a groundbreaking study performed at Washington University. This study investigated the long term complications from the use of proton pump inhibitors.
More than 15 million Americans have prescriptions for this type of drug. The medications are sold under the brand names of Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix. In general these medications have been considered to be safe for long term use. The most frequent complication has been bone fractures, but there is new evidence that proton pump inhibitors may have adverse effects on your heart, digestion and even on your mental status.
The authors of the study stated that larger clinical studies are needed to determine the rate of kidney failure in patients on long term proton pump inhibitors. Never-the-less, the evidence is convincing that a problem does exist. At this time they urge caution when using any of these medications long term and suggest that everyone explore the possibility of using a different type of drug for their symptoms.