Long Term Side Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

These are some of the most common drugs used to treat heartburn and acid reflux – Aciphex, Prevacid, Nexium, Prilosec and Protonix.  They were intended to be used short term (12 weeks or less) to block stomach acid.  PPIs are now available over the counter, without a prescription.  What happens if you end up taking these drugs long term (months or years)?  Here are the risks:

Osteoporosis and low B-12 levels.  Researchers found a link between long-term use of PPIs and hip, spine, and wrist fractures.  PPIs affect the body’s absorption of calcium.   It is worse if you are a post menopausal woman or a smoker.  These drugs may also affect vitamin B-12 levels.

A Connection to C. difficile.  Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that causes colitis, an inflammation of the lining of the colon.  The main risk factors for C. diff are old age and the use of antibiotics.  Studies have now shown a connection between C. diff and PPIs, with or without antibiotic use.  People get C. diff by swallowing it.

Anything over 12 weeks is considered long term.  The problem with PPIs, is that the longer you take them, the worse the effects.  A study found that hip fracture risk increased by 35% after taking PPI’s for two years, 42% after four years, and 55% after six to eight years.

What can you do?

Take Back Your Health.  Quit smoking.  Lose weight.  Exercise.  Avoid trigger foods.

What if that’s not enough?

Find out what is causing the reflux in the first place.  That’s where Functional Medicine testing comes in.  Have a consult with Gregg and explore your options for testing what is in your gut and how to treat it.