ISLAMABAD: Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors - popular drugs commonly used to treated heartburn, acid reflux and ulcers - could lead to kidney damage and severe kidney disease.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach. This is not the same as antacids, which reduce excess acid after it enters the stomach.

They are commonly used to relieve symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - a condition where food or liquid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus or food pipe.

PPI use was also linked to a 28% increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 96% higher risk of developing complete kidney failure, compared with H2 blocker use.

The researchers note that the longer the duration of PPI, the higher the risk of kidney problems. They conclude long-term use of PPIs may cause harm to the kidneys and should be avoided.

Senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a nephrologist with the VA Saint Louis Health Care System in Missouri, says their findings emphasize the importance of only using PPIs when strictly medically necessary, and also limiting the duration of use to the shortest possible.

He noted that “a lot of patients start taking PPIs for a medical condition, and they continue much longer than necessary." The study adds to a body of research that is raising questions about long-term use of PPIs.