Study Finds People Who Take Proton Pump Inhibitors May Have Increased Risk of Kidney Disease

Dialysis Machine Used for a Patient With Kidney FailureYou or someone you know is likely taking a proton pump inhibitor. Some estimates indicate that about 10% of adults in the United States take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce the effects of heartburn, ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), and other medical conditions. PPI medications, such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid work by blocking an enzyme in the stomach wall that produces acid. This can reduce unpleasant symptoms, prevent ulcers, and allow existing ulcers to heal. However, PPIs may not be risk-free.

Study Links Proton Pump Inhibitors to Kidney Disease

In February 2019, a study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Researchers who conducted the study found that patients taking PPIs may be more likely to have kidney disease than people who took histamine-2 receptor antagonists, such as Pepcid and Zantac, to treat the same conditions.

More specifically, the researchers found that 5.6% of patients taking PPIs suffered kidney-related adverse reactions compared to just 0.7% of people taking histamine-2 receptor antagonists based on voluntary reports that people made to the Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) database. People taking PPI medications were found to be:

  • 35.5 times more likely to report end-stage renal disease.
  • 28.4 times more likely to report chronic kidney disease.
  • 8 times more likely to report unspecific kidney conditions
  • 4.2 times more likely to report acute kidney disease.

Researchers were unable to make a causal connection between PPIs and kidney disease based on the information that they reviewed. A large, randomized, and controlled study would be necessary to make that connection. However, the senior author of the study said that it is unlikely that the effect on the kidneys could be caused by other yet unidentified factors.

Acute Kidney Disease

If you or someone you love is taking a PPI medication, then it is essential to understand the signs and symptoms of acute kidney disease. Acute kidney disease may be caused by decreased blood flow to the kidneys, blockage of the urinary tract, or a direct injury to the kidney.

 People with acute kidney conditions may suffer:

  • Infrequent urination
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures

Treatment for acute kidney disease often requires hospitalization. Dialysis and other treatments may be necessary.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is different from acute kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease happens in five different stages with stage 1 being the mildest form of the condition and stage 5 being complete kidney failure. People with stage 1 and stage 2 kidney disease may have no symptoms. When the kidney condition progresses to stage 3 or stage 4, people may experience swelling, back pain, and changes in urination. By stage 5, the symptoms of chronic kidney disease may include all of the symptoms of stage 3 or 4 kidney disease and:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Itching
  • Nausea, vomiting, or a feeling of not being hungry
  • Muscle cramps

It is important to consult a doctor about the best course of treatment. For stages 1-3, treatment may include medications, regular doctors’ appointments, diet changes, and other lifestyle changes. If you have stage 4 or stage 5 chronic kidney disease, however, then you may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Contact a Mass Torts Lawyer If You’ve Been Hurt

Kidney disease can significantly impact your life. You may be unable to work, and you may require extensive medical treatment. If your kidney condition was caused by a proton pump inhibitor, then it is important to talk to a mass tort lawyer about your legal rights.

Our Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts mass tort lawyers are here to answer your questions and to help you protect your rights. Contact us if you’ve been hurt. You can reach us by phone, through our online contact form, or through a live chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us so that you can get the information that you need to move forward.

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If you have been injured by dangerous drugs you need to speak with an experienced mass torts lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer