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In the Midst of the Pandemic, This Drug Secretly Sabotages Your Lung Health

In All Health Watch, Coronavirus, Health Warning

If ever there was a time to have healthy lungs, it’s now. 

As you probably know, COVID-19 typically kills by causing severe pneumonia.   

But here’s what you may not know… 

Scientists have discovered that one of the biggest-selling drugs in the U.S.—one taken by more 15 million Americans—nearly doubles your chances of getting very condition that makes COVID so dangerous. 

The medications are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). They include Prilosec (omeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), and others. Many people pop these pills daily to reduce stomach acid and fight the searing pain of heartburn.i 

We have warned you before about them. Studies show that PPIs bring on a wide range of serious side effects. They include osteoporosis, heart attacks, vitamin deficiencies, and kidney and liver problems. One study found that using PPIs for more than a year increases your chances of an early death by 51%. 

And now, in the age of COVID, these medications may be even more dangerous than ever.ii 

Even before COVID, more than 50,000 Americans died from pneumonia each year. Most were people over 65. In the past year, hundreds of thousands more have died from COVID-caused pneumonia.iii 

Pneumonia Risk Nearly Doubles After Taking PPIs 

Researchers at the University of Exeter looked at the statistical link between long-term PPI use for at least one year and the incidence of pneumonia in adults 60 and older.iv 

They followed 75,000 people, monitoring their drug intake and health. 

They found that the people who had taken PPIs for a year had an 82% greater risk of developing pneumonia during the following year. 

Dr. David Melzer is a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Exeter Medical School. He led the study. 

“This study shows that there was a higher rate of pneumonia in older people who received PPIs,” he said. “Our study adds to growing evidence that PPIs are not quite as safe as previously thought.”v 

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 

How to Stop Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors 

About 40% of older adults take PPIs. They are available as either a prescription or over the counter.  

If you take PPIs, even occasionally, you should consider stopping. The evidence they will hurt you is overwhelming. 

PPIs work by blocking an enzyme that produces acid. But there is a reason nature gave us stomach acid. It acts as the first line of defense in killing infection-causing germs in your stomach. 

Once you destroy this barrier by using a PPI, your body is more vulnerable to diseases. Pneumonia and food poisoning are near the top of the list. 

Stomach acid is also required to absorb crucial vitamins and minerals like vitamins B12 and C, and calcium, iron, and magnesium. Deficiencies of these vital nutrients can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, and kidney and liver problems. 

If you have been taking PPIs, talk to your doctor about slowly weaning yourself off them while switching to H2 blockers. These include Pepcid, Zantac, and Tagamet. They also have side effects. But they are less serious than those caused by PPIs. Common problems include dry skin and constipation. 

Natural Alternatives to Stop Heartburn 

Lifestyle changes might help you get off heartburn medications entirely: 

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids. This aids digestion, especially after a large meal.
  • Avoid heartburn-causing foods. Common ones include ice cream, soda, chocolate, fried foods, and citrus.  
  • Eat plenty of organic bananas, melons, and ginger. All three have been found to ease acid reflux.
  • Add astaxanthin and coconut oil to your diet. They lower inflammation in your digestive tract and help prevent reflux. Astaxanthin is a powerful, naturally occurring carotenoid pigment found in pacific sockeye salmon, krill, trout, crab, and lobster. It’s also available in supplement form. 

During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your lung health. Quitting proton pump inhibitors is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for pneumonia. 

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