Nearly one out of every five people in the U.S. experiences heartburn and acid reflux, with some suffering from and aggravated condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients with GERD rely on medications to relieve symptoms of burning in their throats, painful gas, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. However, the most popular medications used in treatment can cause severe and even debilitating side effects, especially with long-term use.
Be Aware of These Side Effects Caused by Prilosec® and Nexium®
A new class of heartburn medications known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) have become some of the most-prescribed heartburn medications in the U.S. Common types of this medication include Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole), both of which net their companies billions of dollars every year. While these drugs may help control stomach acids, they carry a wide range of adverse effects for patients.
The most common side effects of the medication include:
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Uncomfortable gas
- Stomach or bowel pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness, fainting, or fatigue
- Development of a rash or hives
- Swelling or itching of the face tongue, hands, legs, or feet
- Coughing or feeling hoarse
- Shortness of breath
- Problems swallowing
- Muscle spasms, seizures, or uncontrollable shaking
Life-Threatening Side Effects Are a Possibility
In addition to minor discomforts, studies recently discovered some serious and potentially life-threatening effects of these medications, including:
- Heart attacks. Researchers at Houston Methodist and Stanford University recently discovered a link between PPIs and increased risk of heart attacks. Study doctors estimated that risk of heart attacks was elevated between 15 and 20 percent in patients taking PPIs—a risk that did not rise in patients treated with H2 blockers for heartburn.
- Heart disease. PPIs can also pose a threat to heart health by eroding the smooth lining inside blood vessels, encouraging lipids to build up on the walls. Clogged arteries throughout a patient's body can increase the risks of heart attacks and heart disease.
- Chronic kidney disease. Using PPI medications can cause chronic kidney disease, affecting a patient’s ability to process and expel dangerous toxins. If wastes are allowed to build up in the body, patients may suffer anemia, heart disease, poor health, and eventual kidney failure.
- Broken bones. PPIs work by reducing the level of stomach acids in the user’s body. However, these acids are necessary to digest food and break it down into its nutritional components. With less stomach acid, patients may not get the proper amount of vitamins and minerals needed to keep their bodies strong, causing muscle damage and bone weakness.
- Vitamin deficiencies. Researchers found that patients taking proton-pump inhibitors are more likely to suffer magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies, causing them to suffer muscle weakness, fatigue, constipation, anemia, and severe leg cramping.
- Infections. Lower stomach acid levels also increase the risk of food-borne infections, as there isn't enough acid to break down bacteria before it spreads to the rest of the body. Patients may be more prone to food poisoning caused by salmonella, or suffer a digestive system infection called C. difficile.
- Dementia. A German study uncovered an alarming increase in dementia risk for patients taking PPIs. In a study of over 70,000 people, regular PPI users suffered a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with others not taking these drugs.
Let Us Help
If you or someone you love was injured as a result of taking PPIs such as Prilosec or Nexium, the McGartland Law Firm can help. We hold drug makers accountable for causing unnecessary suffering, and we don't collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your claim.