Did You Suffer From Kidney Failure After Taking a Heartburn Medication Like Nexium or Prilosec?

Did You Suffer From Kidney Failure After Taking a Heartburn Medication Like Nexium or Prilosec?

Did you take Nexium or Prilosec in response to heartburn? Did you experience any possible side effects related to the medication?

Research has found possible evidence linking the use of the two PPIs (Nexium and Prilosec) to several severe kidney-related conditions. So if you have used either of the two drugs to treat heartburn or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or reflux acid, there could be potential side effects.

Nexium and Prilosec can cause severe and deadly conditions, including acute interstitial nephritis, severe kidney damage, and renal failure. Other related conditions are high blood pressure, heart attack, and bone fractures.

The PPIs are still in the market and sold as over-the-counter medication. 

The Food and Drug Administration,(FDA) required warning labeling of the PPIs in Dec 2014 due to the previously reported cases. By such a time, many Americans had suffered the side effects of the drugs.

The manufacturers of the drugs should have informed the public about the possible side effects of the PPIs.

If you have suffered from kidney failure after taking Nexium or Prilosec, you could be entitled to damages. Contact a personal injury lawyer at McDonald Worley, and we’ll schedule a case review.

What Are Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)?

They are types of drugs used in the treatment of conditions like GERD, erosive esophagitis, duodenal ulcer disease, and other acid-related diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved PPIs like Nexium (esomeprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole) to treat GERD. Nexium can treat H. pylori when it is combined with amoxicillin and clarithromycin. 

Using PPIs reduces the signs of acid reflux and heartburn. The usage of a PPI will depend on an individual’s condition. Some patients may have to use PPI for a short term, while others have to use it for long periods of time.

PPIs are available for purchase over the counter without a doctor’s advice.

PPIs have severe side effects depending on an individual’s duration of use and health. However, the benefits of its use outweigh the disadvantages.

How Do PPIs Treat Heartburn?

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) work by shutting down the pumps that secrete stomach acid. Stomach acid is crucial in the digestion of food. However, too much of it is harmful to other organs in the digestive system. So when the stomach walls produce too much acid, PPIs block the enzyme that triggers its production. 

When the PPIs shut down the acid production, the signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease, acid reflux, heartburn, or ulcers are reduced.

The effectiveness of PPIs is fast, and some people may tend to stop the dosage. The discontinuation of the medication may lead to a resurgence of acid production in more significant quantities. 

PPIs do not treat the cause of the excessive production of stomach acid. They only block its production. Therefore, the condition may keep coming back.

The long-term use may lead to severe side effects mostly affecting the functioning of the kidney.

What Side Effects Are Reported From Taking PPIs?

Proton Pump Inhibitors are popular heartburn medications effective in treating GERD. However, the drugs have side effects depending on how long you take them. Also, there could be health concerns in drug interaction if you are using drugs for other underlying health conditions. So, before you start using them, first consult your physician.

Here are some common side effects that come with using PPIs that you need to consider as you also enjoy the benefits. 

Chronic Kidney Disease

PPIs increase the risks of chronic kidney disease in individuals without a history of any other kidney issue. Studies do not indicate whether PPIs cause chronic kidney damage. Also, the studies did not include persons already suffering from any kidney disease. So the increase in kidney risk is only clear for individuals without a previous history of any kidney disease.

The impact on the kidney is gradual, and when it worsens, it prevents the body from normal functioning. Also, blood vessels fill up with body waste, thus causing other complications like anemia and high blood pressure. 

It also does not necessarily mean that anyone who uses PPIs will contract kidney disease.

Acute Interstitial Nephritis

When someone takes PPIs, they may lead to allergic reactions in the kidney. The reactions cause swelling of the inside of the kidney, a condition known as Acute Interstitial Nephritis. If the swelling is not treated, it may lead to serious health complications. PPIs increase the chances of Acute Interstitial Nephritis. However, if the condition is diagnosed early, it is treatable and will not damage it.

Risk of Heart Attack(s)

PPIs increase the risk of a heart attack when used for a long period of time. However, there is no clear link to why PPIs may lead to a heart attack. The severity of the risks is higher for individuals who have had a heart attack and use blood thinner like clopidogrel (Plavix). Such individuals are at risk of a second heart attack because PPIs lower the function of blood thinners. So it’s crucial to discuss the use of PPIs with your physician if you are already on a blood thinner.

Deficiencies in Nutrition

PPIs interfere with the uptake of vital nutrients into the body, like iron and magnesium.


PPIs affect the ability of the body to remove excess magnesium in the body. PPIs may lead to the loss of too much magnesium. Usually, the body should regulate the amount of magnesium. However, when an individual uses both a diuretic and a PPI, they are likely to lose more than is required.


PPIs interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron. Iron is necessary for the manufacture of red blood cells. People with kidney diseases or anemia are likely to be affected by PPIs.

Bone Fractures (Osteoporosis)

PPIs incredibly lower the body’s ability to absorb vitamin b12. This effect is common for individuals who have used PPIs for longer periods and above fifty years. The risk of bone fracture is higher in the hip, spine, and wrist. The severity of the risk of fractures is higher for individuals already using medication to lower the chances of hip fracture because PPIs interfere with the medication. 


There is a link between dementia and the use of PPIs. Older patients using PPIs tend to have problems with social abilities and memory. The problem could be due to a combination of the interference of the absorption of B12 and the presence of PPIs in the blood that goes to the brain. 

Increases Chances of Infection(s)

People taking PPIs are at a high risk of infections. PPIs interfere with the secretion of acid in the stomach. The decrease in the amounts of stomach acid means that bacteria and viruses that cause infections can thrive in the digestive system and eventually in the body. When the viruses and bacteria stay in the body, you may contract infections. If you are old or already have diabetes, HIV/AIDs, lung diseases, and asthma, you are more likely to contract an infection.

Some infections that the use of PPIs may cause are:

Community-acquired pneumonia

Lack of adequate stomach acid in your digestive tract means that there may not be enough acid left to fight off bacteria that could be present in the food you take in. Therefore, the bacteria will remain and live within the body. It may eventually end up attacking your lungs, an infection known as community-acquired pneumonia. The infection may happen so fast within the first weeks of PPI use. 

Clostridium difficile(C.diff)

Individuals using PPIs may have a less acidic level in their digestive system. The level may allow some types of bacteria like clostridium difficile to thrive in the stomach. Clostridium difficile may result in fever, diarrhea, and other digestive illnesses. It can lead to serious illnesses if not treated. 

Other conditions that have been linked to PPIs are:

  • Kidney failure
  • Acute kidney damage
  • Kidney transplant
  • Death related to renal failure

Are Nexium and Prilosec the Same?

Both Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole) are proton pump inhibitors. The two are similar but have a slight difference in chemical composition in that Prilosec has two isomers while Nexium has one.

The two drugs belong to the same class of heartburn drugs used to treat GERD. They have similar side effects and are both available as over-the-counter medications.

Other drugs in the same class of PPIs are: Prevacid (lansoprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole), and Aciphex (rabeprazole).

What Does Prilosec Do?

Prilosec inhibits the production of excess acid in the stomach. It blocks the tiny pumps that secrete the acid; thus, only enough levels are produced.

When Prilosec blocks the pumps, it relieves heartburn and other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It also prevents cancer of the esophagus and stomach ulcers caused by excess stomach acid.

Can Nexium Affect Your Kidney?

Long-term use of Nexium causes kidney injuries and increases the risks of chronic kidney disease. It also leads to other related side effects and conditions like:

Acute kidney failure or renal failure is a condition where the kidney cannot remove waste products from the blood. It leads to the accumulation of waste products in the blood vessels. The accumulation may result in high blood pressure. Common signs of kidney failure include:

  • Nausea shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen legs
  • Decreased urine production
  • Seizures
  • Chest pains 

Kidney failure requires urgent treatment, which involves kidney dialysis or kidney transplant surgery. 

Do You Need a PPI?

If you have heartburn, you may try using common heartburn drugs or antacids such as Tums, Rolaids or Maalox. You can also use H2 blockers like Zantac 75 or Pepcid AC. However, if the heartburn persists, it could be that you have GERD. 

If the doctor diagnoses you with GERD, you will need a PPI to manage your situation. If the GERD is not treated, it can damage the esophagus lining, leading to complications such as peptic ulcers or cancer of the esophagus.

Some PPIs available in the US market include rabeprazole (Aciphex),  pantoprazole (Protonix), and dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) which are sold at a doctor’s prescription. Also, there are others like omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate (Zegerid, Zegerid OTC), Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), and esomeprazole (Nexium, Nexium 24HR) which are counter drugs.

Although PPIs have serious side effects, the damages caused by GERD are far much worse. So it’s advisable to use PPIs when you have been diagnosed with GERD.

What Should You Do if You Take PPIs? 

If you have a doctor’s prescription to take PPIs or have bought the drugs over-the-counter, consider these tips:

  • Stick to the physician’s prescription.
  • Stick to the same time that you will be taking the doses.
  • Do not discontinue dosage without consulting the physician first.
  • Ensure you carry your medicine even when traveling to avoid missing out on dosage.
  • Avoid taking PPIs doses at bedtime.
  • Take your doses once you wake up before anything else.
  • Take PPIs before any meal, then eat about 30 to 45 minutes later.
  • If you notice any strange reaction, ensure you report to the physician immediately—for example, symptoms like trouble swallowing or foods that amplify your symptoms.  
  • If you experience frequent heartburns even after taking the drugs for over two weeks, report to your doctor.

Which Medications Can Affect the Kidney?

Some medications can affect the functioning of the kidney; some may lead to acute kidney injuries, while others may put you at risk of kidney disease. 

The following are some of the medications that may negatively affect your kidney:

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are used to treat health conditions like inflammation, menstrual pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and fever. However, they can interfere with blood flow to the kidneys, thus leading to kidney failure. Individuals with pre-existing kidney issues are likely to suffer from NSAIDs. Examples of NSAIDs are; naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil).


Vancomycin can cause acute interstitial nephritis and kidney damage. Vancomycin is used to treat severe methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.


Diuretics have been linked with a risk of acute kidney injury. Diuretics are used in the treatment of conditions like edema, glaucoma, and hypertension. Common diuretics include spironolactone, furosemide, and hydrochlorothiazide.

Iodinated radiocontrast

The iodinated radiocontrast dye used during diagnostic testing like CT scan may cause kidney injury.


Although Jardiance can protect the kidneys in diabetic patients, it can cause kidney failure. Jardiance is a diuretic, and when it combines with other nephrotoxic drugs, it can increase the risks of kidney failure.

Aminoglycoside Antibiotics

Examples of aminoglycoside antibiotics are; furosemide, tobramycin, neomycin, Streptomycin, and gentamicin. Streptomycin is the least toxic, while neomycin is the most toxic. These antibiotics cause kidney injuries even in small doses. 

HIV Medications and Antiviral Drugs

Reyataz (atazanavir) and Viread (tenofovir) are antiviral medications that lead to renal failure.


Although Zometa is crucial in the treatment of metastatic bone cancer, it can cause impairment of the kidney. 

Get Help From a Personal Injury Attorney

If you suspect any possible side effects from Nexium or Prilosec drugs, you could be entitled to compensation. The drug’s manufacturers should have warned users of all possible side effects to decide if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. A Texas personal injury lawyer at our firm may be able to help you get compensation. Contact McDonald Worley today so we can schedule a case review.


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