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What is omeprazole?

Omeprazole belongs to the proton pump inhibitor class of drugs, widely used for controlling gastrointestinal acid reflux and similar diseases. Doctors also prescribe it for preventing bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Its primary uses and benefits lie in providing long-term relief from these problems, as it is a delayed-release medication.

Omeprazole is available in various strengths for both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed use. It can be taken orally as capsules, tablets, and solutions; and intravenously.

What are the uses of omeprazole?

Omeprazole has many uses and benefits:

  • It cures heartburn, stomach upset, and acidity by impairing the enzymes causing acid synthesis in the stomach.
  • It helps cure more serious conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD causes the reverse flow of gastric juices into the food pipe, which further causes heartburn and a damaged esophagus.
  • When used with amoxicillin or metronidazole and clarithromycin, omeprazole helps treat Helicobacter pylori infection, which causes severe peptic ulcers.
  • Omeprazole also treats Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a type of pancreatic tumor caused by the overproduction of gastric acid.
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What are the side effects of omeprazole?

However, unregulated use of omeprazole has many side effects, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Cough
  • Breathing trouble
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced urination
  • Allergic reactions like hives, itching, redness, and rashes
  • Muscular pain
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Shortness of breath

Long-term use of omeprazole also increases the risk of:

  • Osteoporosis, causing bone fractures
  • Infection by Staphylococcus and Clostridium difficile
  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney inflammation
  • Inefficient iron absorption, causing iron deficiency

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FAQ's

1. Is omeprazole an antacid?

No. Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that irreversibly inhibits acid synthesis within the stomach. On the other hand, antacids are for immediately relieving indigestion, stomach problems, and heartburn. They contain basic salts of calcium, potassium, aluminum, and sodium. These neutralize excess acidity in the stomach. Antacids can work instantly, unlike omeprazole, which takes around 6 hours to start acting.

2. When should I take omeprazole?

Take omeprazole on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If you are taking it twice, take the second dose in the evening. If you have missed a dose, take it soon, but not if the time is close for the next one. In that case, skip the missed dose.

3. How to take omeprazole?

You can take omeprazole tablets whole with water or juice. It should not be chewed, crushed, or broken. If you have trouble swallowing the whole capsule, break open the capsule covering. Spread the pellets on a soft liquid (like applesauce), and ingest it immediately. A glass of water can help the pellets pass through the GI tract.

4. Is omeprazole safe in pregnancy?

Yes. Indigestion and heartburn are common problems during pregnancy. So far, omeprazole ingestion by pregnant women has not been reported to cause any major damage to the growing fetus. Omeprazole can pass through the mother's milk to the baby, but this concentration is too low to cause any defects. In turn, it can prevent colic in the baby.

5. Can I take omeprazole after eating?

No. This is because a full stomach significantly decreases the bioavailability of the medicine. It is recommended to take omeprazole on an empty stomach or at least 1 hour before any meal. For patients receiving nourishment through a feeding tube, feeding should be stopped for at least 3 hours before intake of omeprazole. Feeding should resume only after an hour.

6. Is omeprazole a PPI?

Yes. PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitor is a type of medication that helps in the long-term reduction of stomach acid influx. They act by binding irreversibly to the enzyme called hydrogen potassium ATPase. This prevents it from secreting any more acid in the gastric lumen and gives the gastric cells time to heal.

7. Does omeprazole cause dry mouth?

Yes. Omeprazole works by inhibiting the enzyme that stimulates acid production in the stomach. One of the resultant side effects includes dry mouth, which becomes normal again when you stop taking the medicine. However, due to reduced salivary flow, it can cause the infection of opportunistic pathogens like Staphylococcus and Candida.

8. Can I put omeprazole in baby milk?

No. Omeprazole works best when given on an empty stomach. It is not recommended to mix it with milk, as milk will hinder its acid-neutralizing capacity. Omeprazole should be given with juice or water and swallowed whole. Chewing the capsule breaks the external coating and hence is not recommended. Dissolvable tablets are thus a good option.

9. Can I take omeprazole and calcium together?

Yes. No adverse reactions have been reported between omeprazole and calcium. Salts of calcium are commonly found in antacids and provide instant relief from gastric problems and heartburn. Omeprazole is a slow-release drug that helps in the long-term prevention of gastroesophageal reflux disease, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and peptic ulcers.

10. Can omeprazole stop you from getting pregnant?

There is no evidence to suggest omeprazole hinders one from getting pregnant or affects male fertility. However, consult your doctor before taking this drug if you are trying to conceive. In cases of patients with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, it is essential to continue taking omeprazole even during pregnancy.

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