Prilosec, Nexium & Prevacid Kidney Injuries Linked To Kidney Injuries

Prilosec, Nexium & Prevacid Kidney Injuries Linked To Kidney Injuries 2018-03-07T10:28:10+00:00
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A growing body of medical evidence suggests that proton pump inhibitor drugs can increase the risk for severe forms of kidney damage.

  • Prevacid
  • Prilosec
  • Nexium

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A growing body of medical evidence suggests that proton pump inhibitor drugs can increase the risk for severe forms of kidney damage.

  • Prevacid
  • Prilosec
  • Nexium

Did you or a loved one suffer harm? Financial compensation may be available.

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(866) 807-4631

Our attorneys are honored to stand with injured patients.

— Laurence Rosen, Esq.


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The world’s most popular heartburn drugs have been linked to a host of life-threatening kidney disorders. A growing body of medical evidence suggests that proton pump inhibitors can increase the risk for progressive kidney damage, leaving thousands of patients facing a life on dialysis.

Proton Pump Inhibitors & Kidney Disease

Already, thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed against the drug companies behind Prevacid, Nexium, Prilosec and other medications that fall under the category. In their claims, injured patients, along with families who have lost loved ones to end-stage renal disease, cite substantial medical evidence linking proton pump inhibitor drugs to:

  • acute interstitial nephritis
  • acute kidney injury
  • chronic kidney disease
  • kidney failure

The result, thousands of patients claim, can be death. And drug manufacturers, the lawsuits continue, put millions of people directly in harm’s way by failing to warn us of these potential risks.

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Acute Interstitial Nephritis

Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN) is a form of inflammation that affects the kidneys. Technically, the inflammation occurs in the interstitium (spaces between) that separate renal tubules, the long thin tubes that carry urine through the kidney.

In most cases, interstitial nephritis is the result of an allergic reaction to pharmaceutical drugs, though several infection diseases can also cause the condition.

Symptoms & Causes

Nephritis usually appears shortly after the drug is administered. While some patients won’t experience any symptoms, others will develop a fever and rash. Swollen kidneys are probably the most common sign of nephritis. The condition may also be accompanied by lower back pain, joint pain (arthralgia) and dysuria, or painful urination.

  • antibiotics (including methicillin and penicillin)
  • proton pump inhibitors (heartburn drugs like Nexium)
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID, like ibuprofen or aspirin)
  • phenytoin (an anti-seizure medication sold as Dilantin)
  • diuretics (which stimulate urine production)

Treating AIN is simple: take away the drug that caused the allergic infection. Far more difficult is accurately diagnosing the disorder. While fever, rash and joint pain are the “classic” symptoms of interstitial nephritis, up to two-thirds of patients don’t exhibit any of the three.

Urine tests to identify elevated levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell that can increase when the kidneys aren’t working properly, “provide suggestive evidence,” according to researchers in the American Family Physician, but are far from conclusive.

The gold standard of diagnosis is biopsy, in which a portion of the kidney is cut out for further evaluation. For obvious reasons, despite its accuracy, biopsy isn’t an ideal choice in all situations, since some cases of interstitial nephritis will resolve shortly or remain mild.

Acute Kidney Injury

Left untreated, acute interstitial nephritis is “an important cause” of acute kidney injuries, doctors from the University of Louisville say. In fact, in up to 15% of the people who are hospitalized for acute kidney injuries, the condition began as AIN.

Acute kidney injury (AKI), the National Kidney Foundation reports, “is a sudden episode of kidney failure,” or end-stage renal disease as the condition is known in technical circles. AKI develops over a short period of time, from a few hours to several days, as the kidneys quickly lose their ability to function.

How AKI Affects Kidney Function

Healthy kidneys are responsible for filtering our blood and removing waste products and toxins, which are excreted in our urine. When the kidneys lose their ability to filter our blood in a short period of time, we call it acute kidney injury.

Two obvious problems are the immediate results. First, waste products that we don’t want in our bodies start to build up, because they’re no longer being removed efficiently. Second, the kidneys are no longer able to maintain a healthy level of fluid in our bodies. Taken together, these two complications can be fatal.

People who develop acute kidney injury require immediate and extensive medical attention. As the kidneys stop filtering fluids, liquid can build up in the lungs. A number of nutrients, like potassium, can accumulate in the body and cause permanent muscle damage. In severe cases, acute kidney injury can progress so far that permanent kidney damage is suffered.

Treatment Options

The first step in treating acute kidney injuries, according to Medscape, is to fix the underlying causal problem. If the condition is being caused by a proton pump inhibitor, get the patient off the drug immediately.

In the event that an underlying cause can’t be identified, or the discontinuation of a drug isn’t sufficient to improve kidney function, treatments are “mainly supportive,” writes Dr. Biruh Workeneh, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas.

There’s no single drug that can reverse the issue, and those drugs that have been attempted may prove more risky than beneficial. Instead, treatment turns to managing the two main problems in acute kidney injury: excessive bodily fluids and biochemical imbalances.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Current medical research suggests that acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease, in which the kidneys lose their ability to function over lengthy periods of time, are deeply interconnected. In a 2014 article for the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Lakhmir Chawla of George Washington University wrote, “chronic kidney disease is a risk factor for acute kidney injury [and] acute kidney injury is a risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease.”

In earlier decades, researchers believed that AKI and chronic kidney disease (CKD) were two separate disorders. Now, it seems that the old way of viewing things was wrong: acute kidney injury accelerates the advancement of chronic kidney disease, or CKD.

The Merck Manual makes this point easy to understand: “Acute kidney injury becomes chronic kidney disease if kidney function does not recover after treatment and lasts more than three months. Therefore, anything that can cause acute kidney injury can cause chronic kidney disease.”

Symptoms Of Long-Term Kidney Damage

In chronic kidney disease, kidney function deteriorates gradually, presenting few if any symptoms in the beginning. Over time, patients can begin to experience distressing effects:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • fatigue and general weakness
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • blood in urine
  • bruising easily
  • increased rate of infections
  • wounds that bleed excessively
  • increased urination, especially at night (nocturia)
  • difficulty sleeping

As a progressive disorder, the symptoms of chronic kidney disease generally become worse and more troubling as time passes. Because the kidneys are unable to filter waste materials from the blood, a buildup of unwanted substances can lead to nerve and muscle damage.

End-Stage Renal Disease

End-stage renal disease, as the name suggests, is the final stage in chronic kidney disease. Having gradually lost their ability to function, the kidneys ultimately become unable to sustain life.

Kidney damage is irreversible, according to the Mayo Clinic; there’s no way to improve kidney function after it’s become compromised. Treatment thus becomes a question of either maintenance, in which the patient’s kidneys are “replaced” through the use of a dialysis machine, or replaced literally in a kidney transplant.

Dialysis & Tranplantation

Neither option is attractive, but they aren’t really options anyway; without dialysis or an immediate transplant, patients suffering from end-stage renal disease (or kidney failure as it’s commonly known) will not survive.

Dialysis involves being hooked to a machine that filters your blood of waste particles, removes excess water and preserves a healthy equilibrium of nutrients. Most patients require dialysis treatments three times a week, for around four hours every session.

There’s no such thing as an immediate kidney transplant. The national waiting list for a kidney, administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing, currently includes over 95,000 applicants. Eligible patients usually have to wait between 5 and 10 years for a kidney to become available; around 13 people die every day waiting for a kidney.

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