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Omeprazole is a medication that is commonly prescribed. It reduces the amount of acid in your stomach. This is helpful if you are experiencing heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion. Some people also take omeprazole for stomach ulcers. Omeprazole belongs to the family of medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
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- Stomach acid is required to help you digest food and kill any bacteria that could make you unwell
- A mucous barrier in the stomach stops the acid damaging the lining of the stomach
- In some people, the mucous barrier breaks down and the acid starts to damage the stomach by causing inflammation or an ulcer
- Omeprazole works to stop the stomach from producing too much acid, helping to relieve symptoms
- After discussion with a prescriber, omeprazole can often be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Omeprazole is sometimes known by its brand name Losec
- It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.
How Does Omeprazole Work?
Omeprazole belongs to a group of medications called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). It reduces the amount of acid the cells in the lining of the stomach produce. This not only helps to stop ulcers from forming, but can also help the stomach lining to heal if damage has already occurred. This reduces feelings of indigestion or stomach pain.
Heartburn is often described as a burning sensation in the centre of the chest. It is caused by excess acid escaping out of the stomach and into the oesophagus (food pipe). This is known as acid reflux. Acid reflux can also cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth. By reducing the amount of acid produced, omeprazole can help to prevent acid reflux.
How is Omeprazole Taken?
Omeprazole is a capsule that should be swallowed with some water once a day.
Dosage of Omeprazole
Omeprazole capsules are available in three different strengths, 10mg, 20mg and 40mg.
Your prescribed dose will depend on the symptoms you have, and whether you are being treated for a stomach ulcer, reflux, or another condition. Omeprazole is often taken once daily, with the dose ranging from 10mg to 40mg.
After starting omeprazole, it can take a week or two to start feeling relief from your symptoms. If you do not notice an improvement, you should speak to your doctor for further advice.
Are there any Side Effects?
Like all medications, omeprazole can have some side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting (feeling sick or being sick)
- Flatulence (passing excess wind).
These side effects are likely to settle down, but if they persist or become troublesome you should speak to your doctor for further advice.
More serious side effects include:
- Yellow skin, dark urine (pee), pale stools (poo), or tiredness, which may be caused by liver problems
- Joint pain and skin rashes which could be a sign of a rare condition called subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus.
You should call a doctor straight away if you notice these side effects.
Serious allergic reactions happen very rarely. If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip swelling or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.
Omeprazole may not be suitable for everyone. You should tell your prescriber if you:
- Have liver disease
- Are awaiting an endoscopy (camera test to look inside the stomach) – this is because omeprazole may lead to unreliable results.
Your prescriber can then advise whether omeprazole is a suitable medication for you.
If you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding, omeprazole may still be suitable, but it is important to make your prescriber aware.
Some medications can interact with omeprazole. You may be advised that omeprazole will not suit you if you already take:
- Nelfinavir or atazanavir
- Some antifungal medications
Because omeprazole may not suit everyone, we will complete a Consultation with you including a health questionnaire. This will ensure that the medication will be suitable for you.
A qualified prescriber will review your current medications, including any herbal remedies or supplements, to ensure that omeprazole will not interact with them.
Once prescribed, omeprazole will be ordered on your behalf via electronic prescription. Omeprazole will then be conveniently dispatched from one of our partner pharmacies.