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Proton pump inhibitors warning: Seven long-term side effects, including dementia risk

Dr Zoe explains the causes and symptoms of acid reflux

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GERD is a condition whereby stomach acid travels up towards the throat, causing a burning sensation in the chest, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, bloating and nausea. A research paper – published in the peer-reviewed journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings – reviewed “emerging concerns” of the use of PPIs. First introduced in 1989, PPIs are among the most utilised medications worldwide.

The “most commonly associated adverse effects” of taking the medication include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches.

PPIs have had “an encouraging safety profile”, but new research has pointed towards “potential adverse effects” that may arise in the long term.

Risks include easy fractures, pneumonia, hypomagnesemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, chronic liver disease, and dementia.


Fractures are broken bones, which can occur after a fall or accident, confirmed the NHS.

The three main signs of a fracture include: pain, swelling, and/or deformity.

“You may also feel faint, dizzy or sick as a result of the shock of breaking a bone,” added the national health body.

A broken bone requires prompt medical attention, so you’re advised to visit your nearest A&E department at a hospital.

“If you do not receive the correct treatment, you could develop a serious infection or a permanent deformity,” the NHS warned.


Pneumonia is the swelling (i.e. inflammation) of the tissue in one or both lungs.

Symptoms can develop suddenly over 24 hours, or they can develop more slowly over several days.

Pneumonia symptoms

  • A cough – which may be dry, or produce thick yellow, green, brown or blood-stained mucus (phlegm)
  • Difficulty breathing – your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High temperature
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Sweating and shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain, which gets worse when breathing or coughing.


A magnesium deficiency can be hard to determine, as it’s not tested for in a routine blood test, said Medical News Today.

People experiencing a magnesium deficiency might experience no symptoms, or they could have facial twitches, tremors, and constipation.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to life-long side effects, such as heart problems, the NHS confirmed.

Chronic liver disease

Known as cirrhosis, Johns Hopkins Medicine noted that this is when scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver.

The research paper concluded that “published evidence is inadequate to establish a definite association between PPI use and the risk for development of serious adverse effects”.

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  • Posted on July 29, 2021