According to a recent study, hospital patients who take some acid reflux drugs have an increased risk of developing pneumonia. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Proton pump inhibitors are often given to hospital patients to prevent acid reflux and stress ulcers. Between 40-70 percent of hospital inpatients are given these acid reflux drugs while in the hospital. The drugs, such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, suppress acid in the stomach. Dr. Shoshana J. Herzig, the lead author of the study, suggests the possibility that suppressing acid in the stomach may promote the growth of certain bacteria in the upper gastrointestinal and respiratory tract, leading to pneumonia. Another possible explanation is, since acid stimulates coughing, suppressing acid leads to less coughing, which may promote pneumonia. An increase in pneumonia was not seen in patients who used another type of acid reflux drug called histamine-2 receptor antagonists, like Pepcid and Zantac. Proton pump inhibitors have been linked in the past to complications such as hip fractures and community-acquired pneumonia.
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