Whenever a doctor prescribes a medication he or she has the option to check off a box that tells the pharmacist whether or not to fill the prescription with a generic drug if it is available. This could be the case with Omeprazole since it is marketed under a few different brand names. If your doctor wrote a prescription for Prilosec, Omesec or Losec and you find that it says Omeprazole, don’t worry as it is the same drug. It is simply the less expensive generic form.
What Is Omeprazole?
If you have been to the doctor and were given a prescription for omeprazole then you were probably given a diagnosis along with it! Actually, omeprazole is currently the treatment of choice for such conditions and illnesses as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is also commonly prescribed for any conditions in which there is an overabundance of acid being produced by the stomach as would be the case if you had Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Some of the diagnoses for which omeprazole is prescribed would include ulcers which can be extremely painful sores in the lining of either the intestines or the stomach. Other times it is used to prevent ulcers from returning as they often do when H. pylori is present. In this case, omeprazole is prescribed along with an antibiotic. All of the above however are in terms of the prescription form of the generic pharmaceutical, omeprazole.
There is also an over-the-counter (OTC) formulation of omeprazole as well, such as Prilosec OTC. While Prilosec can be a bit costly, there are generic forms of the same medication which can have exactly the same results. Keep in mind that OTC omeprazole is not as strong as the prescription strength which is why it can be used to treat frequent bouts of heartburn or acid reflux.
Omeprazole is what is known as a photon pump inhibitor which is a type of medication that decreases the amount of acid which can be produced in the stomach. The prescription strength is not meant to treat heartburn or mild cases of acid reflux but the OTC product can be used if heartburn is a problem at least a few times weekly on a regular basis.
How Is Omeprazole Taken?
When you are prescribed omeprazole, your doctor will either write the script for delayed-release capsules or you could be given delayed-release granules that come in individual packets. Both forms should be taken approximately 60 minutes before meals. Most often you will be told to take the omeprazole dosage once daily, but there may be times when the doctor will increase that dosage to twice daily, especially when other medications are being taken concurrently.
Nonprescription strength omeprazole is usually taken once daily, again an hour before meals. However, there are a few points to consider when taking OTC omeprazole. The first thing is that it should not be taken if you are looking for immediate relief of acid reflux or heartburn as it can take anywhere from one to four days to work. Secondly, if you have trouble swallowing the capsules you can open the capsule and mix the contents with a small amount of applesauce. However, make sure that you do not chew the applesauce/omeprazole mix as the medication is delayed-release and long lasting. Simply follow with a few sips of water to make sure the mixture makes it through to your stomach.
Prescription granule packets can be mixed in the same way or can be added to a bit of apple juice. In either case, make sure not to chew or crush the delayed-release granules and also follow with water to make sure the entire dosage reaches your stomach. Always make sure to follow the instructions on the medicine bottle or packet unless different directions have been provided by your doctor. Also, take all of the omeprazole oral medication until the entire course is complete.
Potential Side Effects, Adverse Reactions
There are few side effects which have been associated with omeprazole, either in clinical trials or in patients who have used it over the years. Nonetheless, as with any medication, omeprazole drug interaction side effects are always a possibility as are reactions in patients who are sensitive to this category of pharmaceuticals. Tell your physician if you are allergic to any of the following drugs, which include:
Also, you should advise your physician or pharmacist if you are taking any medications whatsoever including vitamins, minerals and other natural supplements. This is because any pharmaceutical has the potential to interact with other drugs. Of special concern are:
And the list goes on. These are just a few of the drugs which potentially can have an adverse reaction when taking omeprazole so it is vital to discuss any and all meds or supplements you are currently taking or have taken in the recent past.
Special Precautions When Taking Omeprazole
Many people have the unfortunate habit of discontinuing medication when they begin to feel better. One of the special precautions when taking omeprazole 40mg capsules or omeprazole 20 mg capsules is that they feel better, so they figure the condition is ‘fixed.’ This is not the case so it is important to continue taking the entire prescription until it is finished.
The same holds true for OTC omeprazole drug class medications as they are all varying strengths of the same proton pump inhibitors. It takes a good few days before the effects begin to be felt but the purpose of this medication is to keep the stomach from producing excess acid which takes time. Yes, in the beginning the acid will be minimized, but for the full impact of the medication the entire course must be completed.
Also, you should never take this medication for longer than two weeks at a time within a four month timeframe. In other words, take the entire course and then wait four months before taking it again. This holds true for both the prescription strength as well as the OTC strength and remember to tell any new doctors that you have already taken omeprazole if he or she tries to prescribe it before the four month time period is over.
A few other precautions to be aware of is that your doctor should be told if you have been experiencing repeated bouts of heartburn which has lasted longer than three months and if you have experienced any unusual physical symptoms with that heartburn such as dizziness, sweating or lightheadedness along with chest pain radiating down your back or arms. Many heart attacks could have been prevented because they were thought to be a simple case of heartburn.
It should go without saying that if you are pregnant or nursing you should consult with your doctor before taking omeprazole as should anyone of Asian descent or those with low blood levels of magnesium or liver disease. (It is unclear why those of Asian descent may have a problem as the manufacturer doesn’t elucidate on that point. Some individuals taking omeprazole may also be susceptible to more easily breaking bones in their wrists, spine and hips and those who have taken the drug for an extended period may also experience ulcers in the lining of the stomach.
Important Information Regarding Omeprazole
Many people have wondered if it is possible to overdose on omeprazole or even how to recognize the symptoms. Generally, if you find that you are inordinately dizzy, drowsy, nauseous or confused, you should seek medical intervention. If you come into a room where someone has passed out then it is imperative that you call 911 immediately.
Again, it is essential that you understand just how important it is to take the entire course of this medicine as it takes several days to begin working and for the longest lasting effects it will take much longer. It is also extremely important to remember that you cannot take it more often than once every four months. If you have any questions whatsoever, contact your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.
Omeprazole is the most prescribed medication around the world for such conditions as GERD and it has had wonderful results with few major side effects. Keeping in mind that no two people ever react the same to any given medicine, there is always the potential for side effects and/or adverse reactions.
Finally, this information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace a proper medical diagnosis with the appropriate treatment. It is always recommended that you seek medical advice from a licensed medical professional before taking any medications for the first time, even if they are generally recognized as safe (GRAS). It is never advisable to self diagnose because you may be misreading the symptoms. Keep all medications out of the reach of small children and in an airtight container.