CANBERRA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australians who use heartburn drugs such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have a 70 percent higher chance of being admitted to hospital with infectious gastroenteritis, scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) said on Thursday.
The research, led by the ANU's Dr. Yingxi Chen, found the link between the heartburn drugs and the illness, commonly known as gastro, which results in more than 13 million "lost days of work" in Australia every year.
Chen said those over 45 years old were particularly susceptible to developing the illness as a result of using heartburn drugs, as the PPIs manipulate the stomach into producing less acid, meaning some viruses and bacteria are not killed off in the system before causing gastro.
"We found that taking PPIs increased the risk of hospitalization with infectious gastroenteritis by up to 70 percent because they significantly reduce the amount of acid made by stomach, which increases risk of infectious gastro," Chen said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the ANU, PPIs are one of the most commonly used gastric acid suppressants in the world, with nearly 20 million prescriptions filled annually in Australia alone.
Chen said it was important for those using heartburn suppressants to be aware of the risks associated with the medicine.
"There is no doubt that PPIs are an effective treatment for reflux and heartburn. However, clinicians and the patients using them should be fully aware of the side effects when considering PPI use and dosage," Chen said.
"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."