A recent study shows that people who use stomach-acid suppressive medications for indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be at an increased risk of developing pneumonia .
The use of acid-suppressive drugs for the stomach can increase vulnerability to infections, as stomach acidity is a major defense mechanism for ingested pathogens. Researchers studied pneumonia rates of more than 364,000 patients who did and did not use acid-suppressing medication. The present use of all acid-suppressive drugs was associated with a 27-percent increase in the risk of pneumonia, with higher risks for specific classes of these drugs. Researchers say, in general, this is not a problem because the risk for developing pneumonia is low. However, the increased risk for pneumonia is a problem for patients who are at increased risk for infection.
Researchers conclude saying that acid-suppressive drugs are very effective in treating upper gastrointestinal tract symptoms, but they also have some significant drawbacks.