Antacids Cause Liver Damage, Study Suggests

First Posted: Feb 24, 2017 04:18 AM EST

Heartburn is a common problem with a simple solution -- antacids. However, recent studies indicated that regular consumption of antacids, mostly PPI antacids (proton pump inhibitors), which are commonly prescribed for acid reflex and heart burn, can potentially damage the liver cells and hinder its functions.

Yan Xie, scientist from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Saint Louis Health Care System, Missouri, and his team investigated the correlations between PPI antacid consumption and the occurrence of kidney diseases in 125,596 individuals, over a period of five years. The results of the study, which were recently published online on Kidney International Journal, indicated that people who started using PPI-based acid suppression therapy were more vulnerable to the occurrence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Furthermore, while using the medication, there are seldom chances of people experiencing any symptoms related to acute kidney injury (AKI). This, along with the fact that these medications are sold over the counter with brand names Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, multiplies the risk of people developing chronic kidney problems in large numbers, Medscape reported.

Medical experts are of the opinion that the best way to minimize the secondary complications associated with the consumption of antacids is to avoid them altogether. Heartburn is usually caused when the acids present in the stomach accidently make their way up in the esophagus. Though the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) present at the junction of esophagus and stomach is supposed to prevent this, consumption of high-fat diets, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol weakens it, according to CBS News.

Scientists are of the opinion that depending on the severity of the damage, patients may be recommended to undergo remedial surgeries to prevent heartburn and acid reflux, rather than prescribing them with antacids.

In circumstances that necessitate the administration of antacids, the H2 blocker-based antacids may be given as a substitute to the PPI antacids. Earlier studies have proved that H2 blocker antacids like Zantac or Pepcid are less toxic to the liver tissues as compared to the others.

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