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Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid have been miracle drugs for some people who suffer from serious heartburn. For over the last decade, doctors prescribed these drugs to millions of patients under the belief that there was no risk in taking these drugs, only to find out serious side effects exist.
Although stomach acid is negatively viewed since it causes heartburn, acid reflux symptoms, and other painful conditions, its presence is also necessary to digest food and to act as a first defense against viruses, bacteria, and other harmful organisms entering your body through your mouth. Therefore by reducing stomach acid, heartburn drugs are also reducing one of the body’s defense mechanisms against germs that cause pneumonia.
We can now add low magnesium levels to the growing list of side effects caused by Proton Pump Inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, and Protonix.
While low magnesium levels, called “hypomagnesemia”, may not seem like a serious condition, it can lead to muscle spasm, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions or seizures. The FDA is recommending that doctors monitor patients’ magnesium levels for those taking PPIs for longer than one year. Furthermore, the FDA has advised that magnesium supplements may not be helpful in many cases, and PPI treatment should be stopped entirely.
Studies have shown that these drugs actually induce the symptoms they were prescribed to treat. In other words, some patients who have low magnesium levels caused by PPIs, who cannot be helped by magnesium supplements, may not be able to stop taking these drugs because stopping would induce even worse heartburn symptoms.
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