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Omeprazole

Brand names of omeprazole

  • Losec
  • Prilosec

Omeprazole is a prescription drug belonging to the class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and is used to treat a number of health conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract and caused by stomach acid, including ulcers, the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (a condition wherein a tumor of pancreas or small intestine results in extreme discharge of gastric juice, resulting in obdurate peptic ulcers) and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some other medications belonging to this class include rabeprazole (Aciphex), lansoprazole (Prevacid), esomeprazole (Nexium) and pantoprazole (Protonix). Proton pump inhibitors work by interfering with a particular enzyme that is responsible for the acid production by the stomach. This action of the PPIs results in a drop of acid production and it enables the stomach as well as the esophagus to heal. Zegerid encloses the drug omeprazole as well as an antacid (sodium bicarbonate). The Food and Drugs Administration approved the sale and use of omeprazole in September 1989.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking omeprazole

As in the instance of beginning treatment with any new drug, you ought to adopt a number of precautions before you start taking omeprazole for your medical condition. First and foremost, prior to taking omeprazole, you need to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergic reactions owing to the use of this medication, allergies to any similar drugs, for instance, pantoprazole, lansoprazole or if you have any other allergies. It may be noted that omeprazole may contain a number of inactive ingredients that may result in allergic reactions or other health problems. Hence, if you are not sure about the constituents of omeprazole, talk to your pharmacist for further details.

Before you start using omeprazole for you medical condition, you need to tell your doctor or pharmacist regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you have or have had any liver ailment. Since some symptoms may in reality be indications of a more grave health condition, you should immediately contact your doctor and tell him if you are experiencing heartburn accompanied by sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, chest or shoulder pain, particularly with breathing problems, perspiration, wooziness, pain extending to the arms, jaws, neck, shoulders and/ or any inexplicable weight loss. Moreover, in case you are self-treating, tell your doctor if you have any indications of grave health conditions, such as having problems or experiencing pain while swallowing food, enduring heartburns for over three months, bloody or black stools, bloody vomiting, vomit that has the appearance of coffee grounds, frequent chest pains, stomach pain, recurrent wheezing accompanied by heartburn and/ or nausea or vomiting.

All medications belonging to the class of proton pump inhibitors, including omeprazole, are likely to augment the risk for bone fractures, particularly when they are used for a prolonged period, used in high doses and especially in elderly people. If you are enduring any such condition, consult your doctor regarding ways to avoid bone loss or bone fracture by taking calcium, for instance calcium citrate, and vitamin D supplements. In addition, before undergoing any surgery or a dental operation, tell your surgeon or dentist that you are taking omeprazole. Also tell them about all the other prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbal products, vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements being taken by you currently.

This medication should be used with care and prudence during pregnancy. In effect, pregnant women should be given omeprazole when it is absolutely necessary for their medical condition and when all other similar medications have failed to respond. It is advisable that before taking omeprazole, pregnant women should consult their doctor regarding the benefits and risks of taking this medication. Omeprazole passes onto breast milk, but its effects on nursing infants are yet to be ascertained. Hence, new mothers taking omeprazole should talk to their doctor prior to breast feeding.

Usage

The proton pump inhibitor omeprazole is indicated for gastric as well as duodenal ulcers. In addition, this medication is used to treat any gastro-intestinal disorder caused by secretion of excessive stomach acid, for instance, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, gastro-esophageal reflux ( a condition wherein the stomach acid is pushed backed into the esophagus causing heartburn) and erosive esophagitis (and acute and chronic inflammation of the esophagus). Omeprazole is also used in the treatment of ulcers caused by the use of medications related to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as well as in eradicating Helicobacter pylori (bacteria that cause majority of the ulcers and several cases of chronic gastritis). When omeprazole is used to eradicate Helicobacter pylori, this medication is generally used along with antibiotics.

How to use omeprazole

Prior to starting your treatment with omeprazole as well as every time you get a prescription refill, it is important to carefully read the Patient Information Booklet provided by your pharmacist. Omeprazole is an oral medication and generally needs to be taken once every day before a meal or as directed by your physician. If you have not consulted any doctor and are self-treating yourself, use the medications according to the instructions in the Patient Information Booklet as well as the product package. The dosage as well as the duration of treatment with omeprazole is solely dependent on the medical condition of the patient and his/ her response to therapy.

It is advisable not to take an overdose of this medication or take it more frequently than what has been prescribed by your physician. Remember, taking a larger dose or taking the medication more often does not help to cure your condition faster. Instead, this may result in several adverse side effects. In case you have any queries regarding the use of omeprazole, you may consult your doctor or pharmacist. Remember, omeprazole tablets should never be crushed, broken or chewed, but always swallowed with a full glass (approximately 8 ounce) of water. If required, you may also use antacids together with this medication. In case you are also taking sucralfate, you should take omeprazole no less than 30 minutes prior to taking sucralfate. In order to obtain the utmost benefit of using omeprazole, use this medication on a regular basis. In addition, take omeprazole around the same time every day as it will help you to remember the time when you need to take this medication.

Even if you begin to feel better and notice your symptoms disappearing, you should continue taking omeprazole for the entire regimen prescribed by your doctor. Discontinuing the medication prematurely may not only leave the treatment incomplete, but also increase the risk of the relapse of the symptoms. In case you are self-treating with over-the-counter any medication, do not continue the medicine for more than 14 days at a stretch, unless you are directed otherwise by any doctor. Whether your doctor has prescribed you omeprazole or you are self-treating, contact your doctor if your condition persists or deteriorates even after taking the medication for a while. In the event of self-treating, contact your doctor if you continue to suffer from heartburn even after taking the medication for 14 days or to know if you require taking this medication more than once in every four months. In case you suspect that you have some severe medical problems arising out of using this medication or otherwise, seek immediate medical help.

In the event of missing a dose of omeprazole take it immediately when you remember. However, if it is already time for the subsequent dose, drop the missed dose and continue with your dosing schedule. Never take a double dose with a view to make up for the missed dose for doing so may result in adverse after-effects.

How omeprazole works

Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which works by interfering with a particular enzyme found in the cells lining the stomach. This action of omeprazole helps to reduce the production of stomach acid, which, in turn, speeds up the healing of ulcers in the stomach and esophagus.

Side effects

Serious
No serious side effects are associated with this medication.
Common
Less common

Possible interactions

As is the case with most other drugs, omeprazole is also known to interact with certain medications, especially herbal products and/ or minerals and, hence, they should not be taken concurrently. Smoking tobacco while taking this medication also results in adverse after-effects. In fact, when people taking omeprazole smoke tobacco, it stimulates the production and discharge of stomach acid worsening their symptoms.

Taking herbs, such as ma huang and kola, along with omeprazole not only promotes the production of stomach acid, but also diminishes the benefits of this proton pump inhibitor. In addition, it is advisable to avoid using herbs like squill, ginkgo and black cohosh root if you are suffering from any type of gastro-intestinal disorder. On the other hand, licorice root itself carries a Commission E monograph indication for gastro-intestinal ulcers. It is important for you to talk to your doctor before you add any herbal product to your list of medicines while you are taking omeprazole.

Discontinuation

The duration of therapy with omeprazole depends on the health condition being treated as well as the patient's response to the treatment. It is important to complete the full regimen prescribed by your doctor for discontinuing the medication prematurely may result in partial healing and/ or the relapse of the symptoms.

Storage instructions

Omeprazole should always be stored at room temperature and kept in a place that is away from light and moisture. Never store this medication in your bathroom, which is damp most of the time. In addition, remember to keep all medications in such a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. When this medication becomes outdated or is needed no longer, discard it in a proper and safe manner. Unless instructed otherwise, never dispose of the medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain. If required talk to your pharmacist or the neighbourhood disposal company regarding the safe and appropriate manner to discard the medication.

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