-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who take
antihistamines to reduce stomach acid are at increased risk for
Clostridium difficile, a common cause of diarrhea, a new
Researchers reviewed the findings of 33 previous studies that
C. difficileand antihistamines used to suppress stomach
acid. People who took over-the-counter antihistamine drugs did not
have a significantly increased risk of
However, a clear link existed between histamine 2 receptor
antagonists -- a specific class of antihistamines -- and
C. difficileinfection. The risk for people on these drugs --
also known as H2 blockers -- was greatest for hospitalized patients
receiving antibiotics, said the researchers from the Mayo Clinic in
The study was published online March 27 in the journal
"It's not clear why these antihistamines increase the risk of C. difficileinfection, because gastric acid does not affect C. difficilespores," senior author Dr. Larry Baddour, an infectious diseases expert, said in a Mayo Clinic news release. "However, it may be that vegetative forms of C. difficile, which are normally killed by stomach acid, survive due to use of stomach acid suppressors and cause infection."
The researchers said their findings highlight the need for
careful use of histamine 2 receptor antagonists in hospitalized
patients, and suggest that reducing the use of these drugs could
significantly lower the risk of
Although the study tied use of these drugs to higher risk of
diarrheal illness, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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