Proton Pump Inhibitors May Cause Pneumonia in Elderly Patients
For decades, studies have shown that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors is associated with an increased risk of kidney injuries. Thousands of PPI users have filed lawsuits against drug companies for failing to warn them about the risk. They argue that they could have opted for a different heartburn medication if they knew PPIs could cause potentially life-threatening kidney damage.
Kidney injuries aren’t the only risk associated with taking Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and other proton pump inhibitors. It’s long been known that PPIs are loosely associated with several adverse health events, including pneumonia. However, new studies reveal that elderly adults, who are more likely to be prescribed PPIs than others, are most vulnerable.
Study Reveals Link Between PPIs and Pneumonia
A study conducted at the University of Exeter has revealed that elderly adults who regularly take a proton pump inhibitor may be at risk of developing pneumonia. This is particularly troubling, given the fact that 40 percent of senior citizens are prescribed or purchase over-the-counter (OTC) PPIs. This means that a heartburn drug could put more than 18 million senior citizens in the United States in danger of developing a serious health condition.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames and aggravates the lungs. The infection typically causes the sacs within the lungs to fill with fluid or pus. As a result, it can cause discomfort and make it very difficult to breathe.
Pneumonia is particularly dangerous for the elderly. Why? First, the infection can easily spread to other parts of the body. Complications can arise when this happens. Second, pneumonia can cause serious damage to an already compromised immune system. Other health issues can be exacerbated and put elderly adults in life-threatening situations.
Pneumonia can be fatal in elderly adults. In fact, pneumonia regularly ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States.
How Do PPIs Cause Pneumonia?
Proton pump inhibitors are used to treat heartburn, ulcers, and other health conditions caused by excess stomach acid. When you take a PPI, the drug blocks the stomach from producing and secreting gastric acid. This gives your body time to heal and recover.
PPIs are only supposed to be used as a short-term, temporary treatment. Why? Stomach acid plays a vital role in the body. One of its primary functions is regulating bacteria in the stomach and intestines. Acid helps to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. When stomach acid is suppressed, dangerous bacteria can thrive. Elderly adults with an overabundance of bacteria are vulnerable to developing pneumonia and other infections.
Elderly Adults Can Consider Filing PPI Lawsuits
Pharmaceutical companies have continued to develop and market PPIs, despite evidence suggesting dangers associated with popular medications. These companies can be responsible for harm caused by their dangerous or defective drugs. Liability also exists if a company knew about the link between PPIs and pneumonia, but failed to pass that information on to elderly consumers.
Patients injured while taking a proton pump inhibitor may be entitled to compensation. Contact Rosen Injury Lawyers to learn about your legal rights and options today.