Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, occurs when acid or other stomach contents back up in the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which, while rarely life-threatening, can greatly reduce a patient's quality of life by affecting daily activities, sleep and what they can eat.
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Estimates are that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and 15 million suffer from it daily. PPIs have been widely used for many years and are now available over the counter directly to consumers as an effective way to treat reflux symptoms.
However, newer data highlights some safety concerns with long-term use that is important to discuss with patients. Health-care providers should be aware of the potential adverse relationship between PPI use and community-acquired pneumonia, namely, a small relative risk associated with short-term and high-dose PPI use.