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Omeprazole for Heartburn: Benefits, Doses, and Side Effects

What is Omeprazole Used For?

Omeprazole is a proton-pump inhibitor used to treat acid-related conditions like duodenal ulcers, gastric ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD). Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines that limit the production of acid from the glands in the lining of your stomach. Omeprazole is actually the active ingredient in Prilosec — a leading heartburn medication.

There are generic versions simply labeled “omeprazole”. Many people refer to their heartburn medication as “omeprazole”, but there are many similar over-the-counter and prescription drugs on the market today.

Here is a breakdown of different popular proton-pump inhibitors, their brand names, and suggested treatments:

Generic name Brand name Equivalent dose (approx)
Omeprazole Prilosec 20 mg
Lansoprazole Prevacid 30 mg
Pantoprazole Prontix 40 mg
Rabeprazole Aciphex 20 mg
Esomeprazole Nexium 20 mg
Dexlanosoprazole Kapidex / Dexilant 30 mg

 

What is the Best Way to Take Omeprazole?

You should always seek medical advice from your qualified healthcare provider before taking any new medications. Omeprazole can be prescribed for high doses or purchased over-the-counter (OTC) as an oral capsule.

For the FDA, frequent heartburn is defined as “sensation of mid-chest discomfort moving up to the throat and neck, accompanied by a burning or painful feeling under the sternum.” They also recommend that you only take this OTC medication if you experience heartburn two or more days a week.

 

Omeprazole Directions

Take prescription strength omeprazole in consultation and as directed by your doctor. Don’t take more or less of the medicine, don’t take the medicine more often, and do not take omeprazole for a longer period of time than your physician ordered.

Plus, omeprazole should come with a medical guide. Thoroughly read and follow the instructions as ascribed in the medical guide. Ask your physician if you have any additional questions.

Regular omeprazole capsules don’t have a delay in action after oral consumption, but the gastro-resistant variety are delayed-release capsules.

If you are taking omeprazole to treat an ulcer associated with an H. pylori infection, then make sure that you’re also taking antibiotics alongside your initial proton-pump inhibitor medication.

 

Omeprazole Powder for Oral Suspension:

  • Empty the powder into a cup with 2 tablespoons of water
  • Do not use in conjunction with other foods or liquids
  • Stir the mixture well and drink immediately
  • Refill the cup with water and drink again

 

Omeprazole by Capsule:

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved omeprazole for OTC purchase and they recommended, “a delayed-release 20 mg tablet that must be taken before eating once a day, every day for 14 days.”  Omeprazole may be taken “one to four days for full effect, although some consumers may get complete relief of symptoms within 24 hours.”

 

Omeprazole Dosage

Dosage is different for every diagnosed issue. Be sure to follow your physician’s orders and the directions on the label. Our directions only refer to the average doses of this medicine.

 

Duodenal Ulcers

  • Adults – 20 mg once daily before a meal; your dose may be adjusted as needed.
  • Children – use and dosage must be prescribed by your physician.

 

Duodenal Ulcers with H. Pylori

  • Adults – 20 mg 2 or 3 times daily before a meals; usually taken in conjunction with an antibiotic.
  • Children – use and dosage must be prescribed by your physician.

 

Erosive Esophagitis

  • Adults – 20 mg once daily before a meal; physician may change dose as needed.
  • Children – use and dosage must be prescribed by your physician.

 

Esophagitis Caused by GERD

  • Adults – 20 mg once daily before a meal.
  • Children aged 1 to 16 – based on the weight of the patient and must be determined by your physician; usually, the dose is 5-20 mg once daily before a meal.
  • Children aged 1 month to 1 year – dose is based on body weight; on average, the dose should be anywhere between 2.5-10 mg taken once daily before a meal
  • Children younger than 1 month of age – use and dosage must be prescribed by your physician

 

Gastric Ulcers:

  • Adults – 40 mg, once daily on an empty stomach
  • Children – use and dosage must be determine by your physician

 

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease):

  • Adults – 20 mg once daily before a meal; your physician may prescribe an 8-month therapy for different conditions associated with GERD.
  • Children aged 1 year or older – dose will be based on the patient’s body weight and must be regulated by your physician; usually, patients of this type should take 5-10 mg of the medicine once daily before a meal.
  • Children up to 1 year old – use and dosage must be regulated by your physician

 

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome:

  • Adults – 60 mg once daily before a meal; your physician may change your dose as needed.
  • Children – use and dosage must be regulated by your physician.

 

Missed Doses

If you happen to miss a dose of this medicine, take the missed dose as soon as possible. With that said, if it’s almost time to take your next dose, skip the missed dose and get a regular dose instead. Do not double your doses.

 

How to Store Omeprazole

Store omeprazole in a closed container, room temperature, and keep it away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight. Keep it from freezing, out of reach of children, and check the label regularly for the expiration date. Do not keep or use outdated medicine, and dispose accordingly.

 

Alternative Treatments

Many people today are seeking more natural ways to treat their health problems. Omeprazole isn’t the only way to treat many of these conditions.

 

Avoid Trigger Foods

Certain foods can trigger heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.

  • Black pepper
  • Alcohol
  • Garlic
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Onions
  • Citrus fruits
  • Soda
  • Tea
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppermint

Additionally, some people also find that eating gluten-free and a dairy-free diet helps them find relief without the use of medicine.

Do a blood test to determine food allergies and insensitivities. These are the sort of foods that “stimulate” the immune system to attack itself (autoimmune response), which triggers an inflammatory reaction that ultimately leads to GI symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and acid reflux. A strategic elimination of certain foods can preemptively treat, alleviate, or even eliminate these reactions altogether.

 

Lose Abdominal Fat

Additional weight or fat around the waistline can put pressure on internal organs, which causes the food to push stomach acid up and into the esophagus – therefore resulting in a heartburn. This is why symptoms of heartburn are often worse after a hearty meal.

Weight loss, especially decreasing excess fat around the abdominal area is one step toward preventing heartburn. Eliminating refined carbs such as white bread, pasta, crackers, and added sugars can help reduce weight, inflammation, and joint pain.

 

Eliminate Stress

The digestive system is regulated by the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation of the body. Our bodies are made to best digest food while relaxed, rested, and free of stress (both physical and mental).

The parasympathetic nervous system is also responsible for directing blood to our stomach and intestines, initiating digestive enzyme release from the pancreas, and triggering food movement via a process called peristalsis. Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of the intestines that help move and digest food.

Stress management can be a crucial step towards preventing digestive imbalances, and a great natural way to fight stress is to take an adaptogen.

Adaptogens are particular plants or herbs that help balance hormones, which helps improve your body’s stress response. They uniquely interact with the needs of your body without serious side effects.

 

Eat Small Meals Regularly

Stomach acid is an important part of digestion control. Focusing your attention on suppressing stomach acid can often have the opposite effect and can introduce more trouble in the long run.

Make sure that you’re eating within your own digestive capacity. Breaking down your daily nutrition into 5-6 meals – while taking high quality digestive enzymes – can reduce stomach discomfort and aid in digestion.

 

Omeprazole Benefits

As a proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole is mainly known to help alleviate a number of conditions associated with the gastro-intestinal tract. It also has a very important connection to the cardiovascular system. Studies with liver disease have not yet been proven and evidence is anecdotal at best.

 

Omeprazole for GERD

Patients with GERD who take omeprazole can experience major improvement and reduction of symptoms. n addition, this medication is more effective than either antacids or H2 blockers. Omeprazole is a viable treatment option for GERD-affected patients who haven’t had success with other therapies. [123]

Omeprazole helped 230 patients with acid reflux reduce their symptoms of heartburn and stomach pain — if they took it for up to 6.5 years. After the study’s end, omeprazole was deemed safe and helpful to use in treating reflux esophagitis for a period up to 11 years. [4]

Finally, a study involving 41 GERD-affected patients examined an omeprazole therapy for one month. During the therapy, all patients showed an effective reduction in symptoms. When the therapy was paused or stopped, however, a relapse of symptoms occurred. [5]

 

Omeprazole for Peptic Ulcers

Ulcers are open sores located on the stomach lining, esophagus, or intestines. The most common cause for stomach ulcers are Helicobacter pylori bacteria. H. pylori live in the stomach and when they pass through the stomach’s mucous layer they create ulcers and cause inflammation.

Some estimates say that about half of the world population has (or has had) an H. pylori infection sometime in their lifetimes. However, most people never notice any symptoms. Some people experience life-threatening complications, such as infection of the stomach lining, severe diarrhea, and in the most extreme cases – stomach cancer.

Omeprazole, combined with other medications, can help alleviate, treat, and reverse some of the symptoms caused by peptic ulcers.  By reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces, it dulls pain and gives the body time to heal.

Omeprazole was shown to be a very effective agent in treating peptic ulcers in patients (particularly asian patients) who had no previous success with other medical treatments. And even more effective than H2 blockers. [67]

 

Omeprazole for Gastritis

Just like stomach ulcers, gastritis is defined as inflammation of the stomach lining. Unlike the ulcers however, gastritis does not create open wounds on the stomach lining and is primarily characterized by nausea, pain, and discomfort in the upper abdomen.

Medications like pain inhibitors are used to treat a variety of diseases — such as gastritis — but they themselves can also inadvertently cause gastritis. In this case, antacids and proton-pump inhibitors are used to counter the effects of the pain inhibitors by lowering the amount of acid in the stomach and reducing inflammation (that could lead to clostridium difficile), thus preventing gastritis.

How Long Before Omeprazole Heals Gastritis?

If preventative measures are not taken, gastritis can last up to 10 weeks before the healing effects of omeprazole take their full effect. However, after the first four weeks the proton pump inhibitor can still provide some relief to patients, as the medication will alleviate the “burning sensation” that patients often report.

If proper dietary changes aren’t implemented, the introduction of antibiotics, antacids, or omeprazole can have devastating effects on the future health of these patients. In fact, taking additional medication without regulating your lifestyle can further damage your stomach lining, and lead to more serious illnesses than the initial gastritis diagnosis.

With all of that being said, the time between taking medication and healing gastritis varies from patient to patient. But switching to a well-balanced diet can expedite the healing process even further.

 

Omeprazole and the Cardiovascular System

The scientific consensus on the relationship between omeprazole and the cardiovascular system is concerning.

Some studies have pointed out that proton pump inhibitors, taken in combination with thienopyridines, increase the risk of heart attacks, ischemic strokes, and cardiovascular death. [14] Thienopyridines are a type of drugs used to treat myocardial infarction (heart attack).

A meta-analysis by Dr. John Cooke, a renowned heart physician and researcher, found that PPIs like omeprazole may have several adverse effects on the heart. He reviewed a large number of studies that led to similar conclusions. [15]

For instance, in a study of over 56,000 patients who experienced a heart attack, proton pump inhibitors after heart attack were associated with a 30 percent higher risk of cardiac death, stroke, or another heart attack within the first month after leaving the hospital.

Another study in 13,000 subjects followed patients for one year after coronary stent implantation as they took PPIs with the drug clopidogrel (brand name Plavix). Independently of the drug interactions, PPIs were correlated with an increase in major cardiac events of 25 percent.

A case-control study with 23,655 patients who had heart attacks and subsequently took proton pump inhibitors found an increased risk of between 38-62 percent of having another heart attack. Both percentages are significant, although the risk was almost doubly high when taking clopidogrel at the same time as a PPI like omeprazole. Similar results were found in 2008 in a randomized clinical trial with over 21,000 patients.

In an analysis of 23 studies on PPIs and heart health, proton pump inhibitors were consistently associated with a higher risk of recurrent major heart events after percutaneous coronary intervention (heart surgery). Overall, the 16 studies where patients were on clopidogrel and a PPI, and the seven studies not involving clopidogrel, showed that proton pump inhibitors were associated with added risk for another major cardiovascular event.

So, what does this tell us about omeprazole and the heart? If you are at risk for heart disease and/or have already experienced a major cardiac event, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about options for acid reflux that do not include PPIs. Over and over, studies have shown that your risk for subsequent heart problems may go up while taking a PPI.

Omeprazole Side Effects

Omeprazole can pass through breast milk. So, we do not suggest taking this medication if you are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. Talk to your health care professional about alternative drug information if you are unable to fix issues with alternative natural care.

 

Dizziness

If you have low magnesium, or are at risk of becoming low on this mineral, then quit taking omeprazole and immediately contact your doctor. People with or prone to develop low magnesium levels are at a higher risk of developing dizziness from using this medication.

Additionally, dizziness can be also accompanied by tremors or jerky movements, muscle spasms, muscle cramps, coughing, irregular heart rate, jitteriness, and cold feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop using omeprazole at once and seek medical help.

 

Dry Mouth

According to a study, “Salivary flow is reduced in some patients treated with omeprazole, returning to normal after cessation of treatment.” [16]

 

Nausea

Research about omeprazole in regards to treating nausea is mixed. [17] Some believe that omeprazole is an effective agent for nausea, while others argue that omeprazole can in fact cause nausea, therefore negating any positive impact the medicine might have initially.

Consult with your doctor if you decide to take omeprazole for nausea.

 

Headache

A headache is one of the most common adverse effects of omeprazole, turning up at an incidence of nearly seven percent of people taking omeprazole. Accompanying symptoms might include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and rarely flatulence and vomiting.

 

Diarrhea

Omeprazole can cause diarrhea more commonly in people who take proton-pump inhibitors in a combination with antimicrobial agents, and more rarely in people who take only proton-pump inhibitors without the inclusion of antibiotics such as amoxicillin or clarithromycin.

 

Fundic Gland Polyps

Fundic Gland Polyps are defined as abnormal tissue growths found at the top of the stomach. Patients who take proton-pump inhibitors pose a slight risk of developing fundic gland polyps. These polyps are often harmless, but in small number of cases can turn into cancerous growths.

They are known to disappear once you quit taking proton-pump inhibitors. [18]

 

Pneumonia

Proton-pump inhibitors like omeprazole can increase the risk for a condition called “community-acquired pneumonia”; this condition is characterized by an infection which follows a serious inflammation of the air sacs found in the lungs. [19]

 

Acid Reflux

Surprisingly, dealing with H. pylori may increase stomach acid levels to a point where the patient becomes more susceptible to acid reflux disease. If much acid had been already present in the patient, eradication of H. pylori might worsen the condition and lead to further complications as it is. [20]

 

Fractures

The FDA is now issuing warnings about an increased risk for bone fractures for those taking acid reflux medications.

 

Steven-Johnson Syndrome

Several studies have linked omeprazole to more serious, life-threatening conditions such as ADEN, TEN, and Steven-Johnson syndrome as well. [21][22]

 

Dementia

Overuse, misuse, or chronic use may lead to developing memory-related conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — sometimes linked to a vitamin b12 deficiency from taking omeprazole . [23]

 

Heart Ailments

Omeprazole may cause chest pain and interfere with the work of the heart, however results are mixed. [24]

 

Allergic Reactions

Even more rarely, patients taking omeprazole might experience rashes, blisters, flu-like symptoms, and more. [25]

 

Vitamin C Levels

In patients who are diagnosed with H. pylori, omeprazole may increase bacterial infection, lead to elevated nitrite levels, and reduced vitamin C levels in the stomach. [26]

 

Stomach Inflammation

Giving omeprazole to H. pylori-infected patients may introduce additional inflammation to the esophagus, which can lead to more severe stomach inflammation down the road. [27]

 

Kidney Inflammation

In a recent study, omeprazole caused kidney inflammation (acute interstitial nephritis) in 17 patients. [28]

 

Erectile Dysfunction

Omeprazole has been linked to an increase in erectile dysfunction, as well as an increase in male breast tissue (gynecomastia) in men. [29]

 

Weight Gain

A study involving 52 GERD-affected patients had come to an interesting set of results. Patients who took either 10 or 20 mg of omeprazole for an average span of 2.2 years, had experienced significant weight gain when compared to a placebo control group. [30]

 

What Is the Best Way to Buy Omeprazole?

Omeprazole is usually available at local drugstores, or even the bigger pharmacies, apothecaries, and other venues that deal with medication, health, fitness, and nutrition. Omeprazole can be purchased as an over-the-counter medication or prescribed when needed.

 

How Much Does Omeprazole Cost?

Omeprazole, and nearly all other proton pump inhibitors, are inexpensive and popular drugs. Omeprazole is available in generic and branded versions (like Prilosec OTC), and can be purchased without a prescription. The generic version of omeprazole is covered by most health insurance plans.

With that being said, the lowest price for omeprazole is around $2.50 — 95% off the average retail price of around $68.00.

 

Conclusion

Omeprazole has a strong connection with two main systems in the body:

  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Cardiovascular system

The effectiveness of treatment with omeprazole will depend on several factors, including:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • History of previous medical conditions
  • And more

Moreover, omeprazole helps with:

  • GERD
  • Ulcers
  • Acid Reflux
  • Gastritis
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Some forms of esophageal and stomach cancers

If you decide to treat some of the aforementioned conditions with omeprazole, be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to taking the medication, as some drug interactions should be avoided — such as valium and St. John’s wort.

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