Tag Archives: acid reflux

Can Proton Pump Inhibitors Damage Your Kidneys?

Millions of Americans suffer from stomach afflictions such as gastric ulcers, GERD or heartburn and wind up taking proton pump inhibitors to help ease the burn. Unfortunately, science is noticing these meds may lead to different kinds of health trouble down the line.

What Are Proton Pump Inhibitors?

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a type of medication used in the treatment of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and ulcers. They work by changing the cells of the lining your stomach to reduce or stop the production of stomach acid. While PPIs can be very helpful in treating the troublesome symptoms of heartburn and ulcers, they can cause other unwanted side effects.

The Trouble With PPIs

A recent study spanning 5 years looked at a group of more than 173,000 PPI users as compared with a group of 20,000 users of a different type of stomach medication, H2 receptor antagonists to examine the prevalence of kidney damage. The study deduced a 28% higher risk of chronic kidney disease and 96% higher risk of kidney failure in the PPI group than the H2 blocker group.

So What Does That Mean For Those Who Take PPIs?

Its not to say you should never use PPIs, they are fine for most people as a short-term solution to decrease stomach acid, and if your doctor believes the benefits outweigh the risks in your case you can decide together how to proceed. However, other studies have also backed up this growing concern, leading to the medical consensus that PPIs should be taken for short durations and not relied upon for years of continuous use. Even using PPIs for a couple months can theoretically cause kidney damage in some people. It is important to spread these findings because PPIs are used by millions of people and are even available over the counter.

Alternative Treatments For GERD

Fortunately, renal function seems to improve when many patients stop using PPIs, but not in all cases. So if you have GERD and have been relying heavily on PPIs, it may be time to switch up your meds. PPIs are not the only course of action for GERD and heartburn sufferers. Histamine H2 receptor antagonists, also known H2 blockers are another common method of treatment for GERD sufferers, some people also rely on antacids or in some cases even esophageal sphincter strengthening medications. So all in all, there are other options than long term PPI use.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope this information has helped you or a loved one! If you have any questions about GERD treatment options or PPI use feel free to sign up today to start your video consultation with one of our highly qualified, board certified physicians!

Feel the Burn? Your Esophagus May be on the Fritz

Heartburn - Diagnosis on the Display of Medical Tablet and a Black Stethoscope on White Background.

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid Reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) both refer to chronic heartburn, affecting over 20% of the American populous. As opposed to the occasional bout of heartburn that nearly everyone will experience at some point which is usually caused by ingesting a particularly spicy food, GERD is caused by a weakened esophageal sphincter which allows bilious juices to splash back up from your lower intestinal tract into your esophagus (where they certainly shouldn’t be venturing).


This flow reversal of harsh digestive fluids can cause symptoms ranging from unpleasant to painful. Some such symptoms include burning and irritation traveling from stomach to chest (especially after eating), nausea or regurgitation from acid moving into your mouth. According to Health Magazine, studies have illustrated a possible comorbidity between GERD and asthma, with the coughing, wheezing and chronic hoarseness caused by GERD often bringing on asthma attacks in those afflicted by both conditions. Long term effects of GERD include tooth enamel erosion, narrowing of the esophagus or bloody or black stools.

Run the ‘Biggies’ by a Professional

If you are experiencing some of the more serious symptoms such as chest pain or changes in the appearance of your bowel movements, you should consult a doctor right away as both of these can be signs of more serious conditions such as heart problems or bowel cancer.

Alternative Treatment Options

Luckily, there are some unconventional home remedies you can try before running to the pharmacy:

  • Add more alkaline-rich almonds to your diet to help balance your pH level
  • Drink a cup of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed in – for some yucky tasting relief
  • Chamomile, mint or fenugreek tea may help ease the tummy thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties
  • The supplement Slippery Elm Bark helps ease irritation in digestive tissues
  • Chew gum can help stimulate saliva production which can help neutralize acidity, so get to chomping!

Doctor Recommended Lifestyle Tips

There are many things you can do before trying medications, or to supplement them. Some of the doctor-recommended lifestyle changes suggested by Healthline are:

  • Elevate your bed at least 4-6 inches so fluids will have a tougher time traveling in reverse as you try to catch zzz’s, and nap in a chair if sleepy during the day
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat smaller meals (packed with high-fibre fruits and veggies), and stop eating hours before bedtime
  • Know and avoid your triggers – every sufferer is different, but some foods have been proven to aggravate GERD including: high fat foods, tomatoes and citrus, certain alcoholic beverages, onions and spicy foods, and chocolate
  • Lose extra weight – doctors suggest that losing 10% of your body weight should help ease symptoms if you are overweight

Medical Treatment Options

Some GERD sufferers have success with over-the-counter antacids or anti-foaming agents, but others require stronger medications to keep their symptoms under control. According to WebMD, types of medications that have proven successful for GERD include magnesium or aluminum hydroxide based antacids (they cause less stomach upset with long term use than other antacids), H2 blockers such as ranitidine, and prokinetics which can help evacuate your stomach quicker, minimizing reflux. Another type of medication is proton pump inhibitors, which help minimize the amount of acid produced by your stomach. For very severe cases which don’t respond well to medications, there are surgical options such as the surgical insertion of a ‘LYNK’ ring around the esophagus to prevent acid backup.

Talk to Your Doctor (or One of Ours!)

If you are experiencing many of these symptoms and suspect you may have undiagnosed acid reflux, you should consult your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians soon to see if your troubles are related to chronic heartburn, as unchecked GERD can lead to such serious complications as esophageal cancer or erosion of the digestive tract requiring surgery.