Australian researchers have found a link between heartburn drugs and gastro

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Popular drugs prescribed for heartburn have have been linked to an increase in the risk of infectious gastroenteritis.

A study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found people who take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) had a 70% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital with infectious gastroenteritis.

“They significantly reduce the amount of acid made by stomach, which increases risk of infectious gastro,” says lead author Dr Yingxi Chen from the Australian National University (ANU) National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.

PPIs are one of the world’s most commonly used gastric acid suppressants, with more than 19 million scripts prescribed a year in Australia.

The research builds on a report by the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health which found 15.1 million gastro cases in Australia in 2010.

“There is no doubt that PPIs are an effective treatment for reflux and heartburn,” says Dr Chen.

“However, clinicians and the patients using them should be fully aware of the side effects when considering PPI use and dosage.

“The elderly and those with chronic bowel problems are most at risk. These patients should be having a conversation with their doctor to ensure that they are on right dose and that these drugs are the right fit for them.”

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