PPIs are a group of medications commonly used to treat acid-related digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Although they effectively reduce stomach acid production, they can also cause significant side effects when misused.
One of the main concerns with the misuse of PPIs is the risk of overuse. PPIs are often prescribed for long periods, even when unnecessary. This can lead to several negative consequences, including an increased risk of infection, kidney disease, and bone fractures. Long-term use of PPIs can also interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
Another issue with the misuse of PPIs is the risk of dependence. PPIs are designed to reduce the production of stomach acid, and when used for extended periods, the body may become dependent on them to maintain a healthy level of acidity. This can result in rebound acid hyper-secretion, a condition in which the body produces too much acid once the medication is discontinued.
Proton pump inhibitors are sometimes prescribed for conditions unrelated to acid-related digestive disorders. This can lead to inappropriate use of the medication and can result in the development of severe side effects. PPIs have been linked to an increased risk of Clostridium difficile infection, a bacterial infection that can cause severe diarrhea.
Things to be aware of when prescribed PPIs
We remind patients regularly that it is essential to note that while PPIs effectively reduce acid production in the stomach, they do not address the root cause of acid-related digestive disorders. For some patients, making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods and reducing stress, may be more effective in managing symptoms than relying solely on PPIs.
PPIs are very effective when used correctly, and we want to educate against their misuse. By being informed and taking a cautious approach to PPIs, patients can help reduce the risk of adverse consequences associated with these medications.
If you have questions about PPIs and their correct use, talk to one of our Dispensaries Ltd. pharmacists.