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Heartburn Medicines Raise Risk of Pneumonia

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Acid suppressing drugs are linked to pneumonia. Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPIs for short are among the most popular pills in the pharmacy. These are drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix and Nexium. They are extremely effective at preventing acid formation and easing symptoms of heartburn. But there has been growing concern that such medications may be so effective that they allow bacteria to grow in the stomach. Normally, stomach acid prevents such bacterial growth. If these germs flourish and migrate to the lungs pneumonia may result.

A new study confirms earlier suspicions of a connection. Researchers reviewed records from over 60,000 patients. More than half had received acid suppressing medication. Those who took PPIs were significantly more likely to develop pneumonia while in the hospital than those who were not given these potent heartburn drugs. The new research suggests that routine use of PPIs may be putting patients at unnecessary risk.

[JAMA May 27, 2009]
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/301/20/2120

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4 Comments

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The article on PPIs was good. So what does one do if you have to take them? I have Barretts and need to take them so I don't develop something worse. Is there an answer to this problem?

Turmeric works very well for symptomatic relief and could be a substitute. When I had food poisoning one time, I took a PPI for a month, which alleviated the problem. But symptoms crop up now and again for which I use turmeric. It is almost instantaneous. Is there any research on turmeric?

I took Prilosec for several years for acid stomach. I have now been diagnosed for osteoporosis. If turmeric is a safe alternative to PPI drugs, in what form and how much does one take?

I take Nexium for reflux and it has made a big difference in those symptoms. However, I've had pneumonia 5 times in the last 3 years. I've been blaming it on asthma but now find it may instead be due to the Nexium.

I don't want to return to the symptoms of reflux, but each case of pneumonia gets harder and harder to recover from.

What can I do to keep the reflux at bay but reduce the incidents of pneumonia? Yogurt? Yoga? Tai Chi? Hot tea?
Any suggestions?

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