The People's Perspective on Medicine

Do People on PPIs Have More Infectious Diarrhea?

A study in Scotland found that people who take PPIs for a long time are more likely to suffer from C diff or Campylobacter infections.
PPI esomeprazole heartburn

Is it smart to block the production of stomach acid with powerful proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPIs)? Millions of people take these drugs to control acid reflux, ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

PPIs and Intestinal Infections:

Researchers in Scotland have found that acid-suppressing medications such as dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) make people more vulnerable to gastrointestinal infections. They reviewed the records of half a million Scots. Those taking PPIs were 1.5 times more likely to come down with Clostridium difficile than those not on such drugs. C. difficile can cause hard-to-treat diarrhea. This is not the first study to find that such drugs  increase the risk of C diff infections (JAMA Internal Medicine, May 2015).

Scottish people taking prescription PPIs were also about four times more likely to pick up a Campylobacter infection. Intuitively, this makes sense. Stomach acid is one way that organisms protect themselves against invading germs.

The investigators warn that these powerful drugs should not be used casually. Patients and their health care providers should discuss when the drugs are appropriate and when and how to discontinue them.

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, online Jan. 5, 2017

Stopping a PPI suddenly can trigger rebound heartburn symptoms that can be hard to manage. Using non-drug approaches to help ease the pain while reducing the dose gradually might work best. We offer several recommendations in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. 

6/20/19 redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/01/03/getting-off-omeprazole-old/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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