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Proton Pump Inhibitors -  Overuse & Risks


Proton Pump Inhibitors are strong medications that are used to decrease stomach acid production.  When used for limited amounts of time or for serious medical conditions proton pump inhibitors can be very effective.  However, there are potential consequences of long-term use which range from nutrient malabsorption, drug interactions, complex and increased risk of serious medical conditions. 

Proton Pump Inhibitors are frequently prescribed for the treatment of heartburn caused by acid reflux as well as for the treatment of stomach ulcers. These medications are also readily available over the counter at your local pharmacy without the need for a prescription.

Man experiencing stomach pain after eating

Common Proton Pump Inhibitors include:

  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Dexilent (dexlansoprazole)

Proton Pump Inhibitors are recommended for short term use in most cases, usually being used for 4-8 weeks. However, many doctors will continue to prescribe these medications for longer, or patients will continue to take them over the counter without a prescription.

Man holding up a prescription template

Long term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors carries risks that may outweigh the benefits of using them. These risks include decreased nutrient absorption (which can lead to problems including fragile bones and increased risk of bone fractures, calcium and magnesium depletion, vitamin B12 deficiency), increased risk of infection (C. difficile and pneumonia), dementia, heart failure, and worsening kidney function.

Question mark

Consider the following:

  • Why are you taking your Proton Pump Inhibitor?
  • How long have you been taking your Proton Pump Inhibitor?
  • Are you at risk for any of the complications of long term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors?
  • Do you think you need to continue taking your Proton Pump Inhibitor?
  • Talk to your doctor or schedule a consultation with Coast To Coast Compounding to learn more and to decide whether you should continue taking your Proton Pump Inhibitor.

Health professionals

See this CBS News Article for more information on the potential increased risk of death using Proton Pump Inhibitors for long periods of time:

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