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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a type of medication used to treat certain kinds of gastrointestinal dysfunction.
These problems may include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammation of the esophagus
- Small ulcers in the stomach or intestines
Proton pump inhibitors are intended to reduce the amount of stomach acid. In 2009 alone, almost 120 million patients had prescriptions filled for PPIs at U.S. pharmacies. Over-the-counter (OTC) formulations of some proton pump inhibitors have been available for over a decade, as well.
Some proton pump inhibitors you may be familiar with are:
- AcipHex (rabeprazole)
- Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
- Nexium (esomeprazole)
- Prevacid (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec (omeprazole)
- Protonix (pantoprazole)
- Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate)
In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a number of safety communications related to proton pump inhibitors. Some of the concerns they have noted include severe diarrhea caused by specific bacteria, low magnesium levels with prolonged use of PPIs and fractures of the wrist, hip and spine in those taking PPIs at high doses for a prolonged period of time.
Increasing Concerns About PPIs: Life-Threatening Risks Possible
Recent research suggests that using proton pump inhibitors may lead to serious, even life-threatening kidney problems. Specifically, proton pump inhibitor medications have been linked to people developing:
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Acute kidney injury (AKI), sometimes called acute renal failure
- Interstitial nephritis
- End-stage renal failure, sometimes called end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
Proton Pump Inhibitors and Chronic Kidney Disease, End-Stage Renal Disease
Chronic kidney disease is a loss of kidney function that happens gradually, over months or even years. In the beginning, an individual may not have any noticeable symptoms because the loss of kidney function in CKD can occur slowly.
If undiagnosed, chronic kidney disease can develop into end-stage renal disease (ESRD). At this point, the kidneys have lost their ability to function adequately.
The kidneys can no longer filter waste products and excessive fluid from the body. When this occurs, a person must either undergo kidney dialysis or receive a kidney transplant to stay alive. Chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease can cause many complications and may result in death.
PPIs and Acute Kidney Injury
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is also called acute kidney (renal) failure. This form of loss of kidney function happens suddenly, over hours or days.
Acute kidney injury can be life-threatening because the kidneys are suddenly no longer able to filter waste products and remove excess fluid from the body. When waste products accumulate in your blood, your entire body can be affected.
The implications of having acute kidney injury can be far-reaching for a person’s body. Healthy kidneys not only remove wastes and toxins from the blood, but they help maintain blood pressure and blood acid-base balance, as well as reabsorb vital nutrients the body needs.
In addition, some patients suffering from acute kidney injury may develop respiratory failure. This increases the possibility that a patient may die from complications related to acute kidney injury.
If someone suffering from acute kidney injury does not receive immediate treatment, abnormal levels of salts, wastes and toxins can build up in the body. If the kidneys stop working completely, kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant are necessary to sustain life.
Severe loss of kidney function and complications caused by kidney failure can lead to death.
Possible symptoms of acute kidney injury include:
- Shortness of breath
- Urinating much less than normal
- Seizures or coma
- Fluid retention (edema), especially in the legs, ankles or feet
PPIs and Interstitial Nephritis
Interstitial nephritis is a condition involving inflammation of a specific part of the kidneys. Interstitial nephritis refers to inflammation of the spaces between the kidney tubules.
Interstitial nephritis may be temporary (acute) or last for a longer period of time (chronic). Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, the most serious being acute kidney failure.
Symptoms of interstitial nephritis may include:
- Blood in urine
- Change in urine output
- Drowsiness, confusion or coma
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of any part of the body
- Weight gain due to fluid retention
Depending on a patient’s specific circumstances, someone suffering from interstitial nephritis may only require short-term treatment. In other instances, however, dialysis may be required and interstitial nephritis may cause permanent damage, such as chronic kidney disease, also called chronic kidney failure.
Victims of Kidney Damage Associated with Proton Pump Inhibitor Use May Be Entitled to Compensation
If you took a proton pump inhibitor medication and developed chronic kidney disease, interstitial nephritis, an acute kidney injury or end-stage renal disease that required hospitalization, surgical intervention, or dialysis, you may be entitled to compensation.
If you are the loved one of someone who took a proton pump inhibitor medication and died from complications related to severe kidney damage, please contact us. You may be able to receive compensation for your loved one’s death.
Weitz & Luxenberg May Be Able to Help
Weitz & Luxenberg has been helping clients win cases for more than 25 years. As a leading personal injury law firm recognized across the country, we have committed ourselves to holding irresponsible parties accountable, and we have won more than $17 billion for our clients.
We would feel privileged to offer you our assistance. For more information about your legal options and a free consultation, please contact us at (855) 549-0384 or complete our on-line form. One of our client relations representatives will be in touch with you shortly.