Heartburn Drug Kidney Injuries

Did you suffer from kidney failure after taking a heartburn medication like Nexium or Prilosec?

Many Americans have dealt with the unpleasant side effects of acid reflux or heartburn and visit a pharmacy or their physician to try to get a handle on the situation. For many sufferers, an acid-blocking medicine known as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drug is recommended to provide fast relief from symptoms.

Taking a popular heartburn medication like Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid that can be purchased over-the-counter seems like a safe option for those who can’t get in to see a doctor soon enough. After all, several PPIs are available without a prescription, so consumers feel the medications are safe enough for the general public.

However, those who have continued to take heartburn medications long term may have a risk of developing serious kidney side effects from the drugs which can prove life-altering and possibly fatal.


There are a number of heartburn medications are on the market. Some require a prescription from a doctor, while others are available over-the-counter (OTC). Some come in OTC strength and prescription strength to meet patient needs.

PPI heartburn medications include:

  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)
  • Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Vimvo (esomeprazole and naproxen)
  • Ypsprala (aspirin and omeprazole)
  • Zegerid (omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate)


PPI medications work by blocking an enzyme in the stomach wall that is responsible for producing stomach acid. When the amount of acid is reduced, symptoms associated with heartburn, acid reflux, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and various types of ulcers can be reduced with the use of PPI medications.

Although these drugs block acid production, they do not usually solve the underlying problem that causes the condition in the first place.

When individuals experience relief after taking the drugs for a while, they may try to taper off or stop the medication. When they do, many experience a rebound effect of more acid after the acid production has initially been suppressed, and this can prompt them to continue taking the drugs to avoid the negative effects of coming off of them.

While these drugs can be very effective in providing symptom relief, their long-term use can lead to serious problems, with some of the most concerning problems affecting kidney function.


Of all the side effects linked with extended heartburn drug use, kidney failure and related kidney diseases are some of the most serious, as they can potentially have lethal consequences.

Studies published last year show a link between PPI medications and various stages of kidney damage. One study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2016 observed more than 10,000 individuals over roughly 13 years. It found that the longer an individual takes PPI medications, the more likely he or she is to suffer from kidney damage.

Earlier research found a link between the use of PPIs and a condition called acute interstitial nephritis and acute kidney injury. In addition, other studies have also suggested a link between PPI use and acute kidney issues, while more recent research points to the kidney being affected with chronic issues.

While researchers haven’t quite discovered the precise reason why kidney damage can result from heartburn drug use, they have a few theories. One school of thought is that hypomagnesia (low magnesium levels) caused by PPI use can damage the kidneys. Others think that having repeated bouts of acute kidney injury can lead to chronic kidney damage.

Once the kidneys are chronically damaged, they may begin to fail. While an individual can live with a single kidney or with partial kidneys, humans cannot survive with kidneys that do not function at all. Kidneys serve as one of the body’s main detoxification waste systems, filtering out toxins to keep the body healthy. If the kidneys fail and eventually shut down entirely, death will soon follow.


Several symptoms should be noted when evaluating for kidney disease. These include:

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue or drowsiness that is excessive
  • Fluid retention causing swelling in legs, ankles, and feet
  • Nausea that persists
  • Reduced urine output
  • Shortness of breath

Physicians look for kidney disease based on blood and urine lab tests, imaging tests and sometimes a tissue sample from the kidneys.

Drastic interventions are needed with advanced kidney damage and kidney failure, including dialysis and kidney transplant. It is important for those who suspect kidney issues to immediately seek medical help.


PPI medications come with a risk of a number of other side effects as well. Other side effects beyond kidney impairment associated with proton pump inhibitor medications include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone fractures
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Dementia
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Gut infections
  • Heart attack.
  • Hypomagnesia (low magnesium)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pneumonia
  • Stroke
  • Weight gain


If you suffered from kidney failure or other serious kidney complications after taking PPI medications, you have a right to consult with an attorney to discuss pursuing legal action against the manufacturer.

Lawsuits against manufacturers can help send a message that consumers expect that their safety is a top priority. Those filing lawsuits can also help recover damages suffered as a result of the injury.

A PPI medication attorney can provide you with a free case review to better understand your situation and can explain the options you have in pursuing legal action.


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