What is Omeprazole for, how it works and side effects

Omeprazole is a medicine indicated for problems such as gastritis and gastric ulcer. This drug is the most famous representative of the group of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), quite easy to find and brings the best qualities to your life, having a phenomenal resource for those who use it.

What is Omeprazole?

Omeprazole helps reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. It is prescribed for stomach ulcers, but can also be found in pharmacies to relieve heartburn associated with acid reflux.

Omeprazole comes as tablets, capsules, and dispersible tablets. All of them are available in concentrations of 10mg, 20mg and 40mg.

In the hospital, omeprazole is sometimes given by injection or drip into a vein. Losec, Losec MUPS, Mepradec, and Mezzopram are all brand names of omeprazole. It is also called Prilosec in the United States.

What is omeprazole used for?

Omeprazole 10mg tablets are available without a prescription in pharmacies and can help you:

  • Soothe symptoms of heartburn associated with stomach acid reflux in adults 18 years of age or older.

For prescription, prescription omeprazole is prescribed for either children or adults for the following reasons:

  • It helps improve digestion, as well as heartburn, which are related to the excessive increase in acid produced.
  • It works for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Treat intestinal (peptic) ulcers like stomach ulcers.
  • It favors the elimination of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
  • It prevents stomach irritation or peptic ulcers that are caused by anti-inflammatory (non-steroidal) pain relievers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac.
  • Decreases the production of stomach acid in patients with a type of tumor in the pancreas that causes the stomach to create too much acid (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome).
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How does omeprazole work?

Omeprazole is a type of medicine known as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Proton pumps are located in the cells that line the stomach and these are used to generate more stomach acid. What omeprazole does is, prevent the proton pumps from developing and this in the end, decreases the production of stomach acid.

By reducing stomach acid, omeprazole can relieve symptoms of indigestion, as well as painful symptoms of heartburn caused by excess acid passing back into the feeding tube (acid reflux). It also allows the feeding tube (esophagus) to heal if it has been damaged by acid.

By lowering the amount of acid in the stomach and upper intestine (duodenum), omeprazole allows peptic ulcers to heal and prevents them from recurring.

When omeprazole is combined with antibiotics to help eradicate H pylori bacteria from the stomach, it can provide a less acidic environment in the gut, where antibiotics can be more practical to kill the bacteria.

Omeprazole helps protect your gut if you are taking an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as diclofenac. These pain relievers prevent the stomach from producing prostaglandins that normally protect the stomach lining from stomach acid. Omeprazole helps minimize the amount of stomach acid that can irritate the stomach while taking these pain relievers.

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How long does it take for omeprazole to work?

It depends on the reason you take it. You should get some relief from heartburn and indigestion symptoms immediately, or at least in the first few days after taking omeprazole.

Although it is possible to take omeprazole for a few weeks, some conditions require long-term use of omeprazole, this is to control symptoms or prevent the disease from coming back.

If you have bought omeprazole without a prescription, you should consult your doctor, if your symptoms do not improve after taking it for two weeks.

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Who should not take OTC omeprazole?

Although it is possible to buy omeprazole without a prescription in pharmacies, it is not suitable for everyone. You will need to see your doctor if:

  • If you are under 18 years of age.
  • If you are 55 or older and your indigestion or heartburn symptoms are new or have recently changed.
  • You have been taking heartburn or indigestion medications continuously for four or more weeks to control your symptoms.
  • If you are going to have an endoscopy or urea breath test.
  • For losing weight inadvertently.
  • Being anemic (symptoms include being pale and feeling tired).
  • When there is any difficulty or pain when swallowing.
  • If blood appears in your poop or black tarry stools.
  • There has been persistent or bloody vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Having a peptic ulcer or surgery on your stomach or intestines.
  • If there have been liver problems or liver disease (symptoms include yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
  • Any other significant medical condition.
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Your doctor will want to rule out any serious conditions before deciding whether omeprazole is an appropriate treatment for you.

Final Recommendations

When prescribed by a doctor, omeprazole is suitable for most adults and children.

You should not take it if you are allergic to any of the inactive ingredients in the drug. Check the ingredients in the leaflet that comes with the medicine if you know you have specific allergies, for example some brands of omeprazole contain lactose.

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Some people may need a lower omeprazole dose or extra monitoring, especially if they take omeprazole for more than a year. Make sure your doctor knows if you:

  • Have liver problems
  • You are deficient in vitamin B12.
  • You have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it, for example if you are taking long-term corticosteroid medications or if you have gone through menopause.

If you are on long-term treatment with omeprazole, especially if you take it for more than a year, it is important that you make sure that you have an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D to avoid any bone problems.

Your doctor may want you to take calcium and vitamin D supplements if you are not getting enough in your diet, because long-term use of omeprazole can increase the risk of breaking a bone. Ask your doctor for more advice.

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