Acid-suppressing drugs are among the most popular pills in the pharmacy. They are prescribed under brand names such as Aciphex, Nexium and Protonix. Over the counter heartburn medicines such as Prevacid and Prilosec are also widely used. These drugs and medicines such as Tagamet or Zantac can increase the risk that a person will develop pneumonia. South Korean researchers analyzed 31 international studies and found that patients on heartburn pills were 25 percent more likely to catch pneumonia than people not taking acid-suppressing drugs.
This is not the first time proton-pump inhibitors have been implicated in a higher risk of pneumonia. By reducing acid in the stomach, these drugs may knock out the first line of defense and allow nasty germs access to the airways. Another complication that has been reported with PPIs is digestive tract infections such as Clostridium difficile or C diff. This can cause intractable diarrhea and is hard to eradicate.
[Canadian Medical Association Journal, online Dec. 20, 2010]

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  1. Manoj

    Absolutely true. I got pneumonia in 2009 for the first time (I was 38 then). I told the Urgent care Dr AND my PCP that I had taken 3 zantacs in the last 24 hours (more than the maximum). Neither of them thought that was the problem. The Urgent Care DR even told me “it was just bad luck”. I Knew then and I know now it was the Zantac that paused the Bronchitis to Pneumonia. At the same time, my son and wife had bronchitis but mine turned into pneumonia.

  2. brian w.

    On March 24 of 2000 I fell five stories. Broke a little of everything, spent a month in a coma and during this period received 36 surgeries. This was coupled with protracted intravenous antibiotics (S.O.P.).
    As a result I had years of stomach pain and intermittent, uncontrollable-explosive diarrhea. I tried probiotics and digestive enzymes; the best I got was temporary short lessening in the severity of these symptoms.
    I finally discovered something close to an actual cure, and while it has also helped a great many people to the same degree, it doesn’t always work for everyone. TRADITIONAL GERMAN SAUERKRAUT. FERMENTED IN BRINE, NOT-PICKLED IN VINEGAR

  3. EM

    I have been on Nexium about 5 years, and recently switched to 40 Mg Omeprozole twice a day after being scoped, and told I have Barret’s Esophagus.
    I have had fibromyalgia for 25 years and went to a chiropractor who says I should quit taking the Omeprozole, because it takes all acid out of the stomach, and some is needed, AND it inhibits Calcium absorption. I have NO Gerd symptoms (no stomach pain, etc). Is it a good Idea to quit Omeprozole, when I have Barret’s? Is it true it inhibits calcium absorption?

  4. Kennah

    I was on 40 mg Nexium, and I’m now on 20 mg omeprazole (generic Prilosec). It does not change the issue raised here on this thread, but it is a whole lot cheaper.

  5. d.p.

    I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the proton pump inhibitors and any links to weight gain. I, like another writer on here, have taken these for many years and did find that I have a very low B12 (now normal after treating with B12 sublingual daily) and low Vit. D. I wonder how having the acid knocked out of my stomach is affecting the digestion of my foods — I eat a really healthy diet of fruits, veggies, beans, brown rice — very little meats–yet I continue to gain weight. I am stepping up my exercise program and keeping a food journal now, but wondering if I came off the Aciphex if it could also help my overall health. So, with this in mind, any suggestions of how to get off of the Aciphex — without having the acid reflux rebound in a huge way. I’m ready to try with all my cells in my body.

  6. J.E.T.

    I have been on every known acid suppressing medication known to man for over 30 years and I can’t get along without them. I’m presently on Nexium 40 mgm. 2X a day. What else can I do ?

  7. Ruth H.

    My Primary care advised against taking the acid blockers and I took them for a while and didn’t realize that was causing my diarrhea which I still have on a regular basis. I have never had heartburn but when I had a stomach scope done the doctor advised that I take OTC acid meds… aciphex because my esophagus was red near the stomach entry.
    I eat a healthy diet, avoid what may cause a problem and I do very well. I am 81 yrs.old. Thank you for all the info… you help me a great deal! You and your wife are a great team… enjoy you on PBS also.

  8. Tracey T. S.

    I have been on heartburn medicine for many years. I am a 48 tear old female. Now I have pancreatic cancer. Could the heartburn medicine have contributed to this?

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