Omeprazole is used to treat conditions that result from the patient having too much stomach acid. This medication is available over-the-counter and in stronger doses via prescription. This medication is not intended for long term use without taking breaks between regimens. It may take a few days before this medication takes effect, so you will need to talk with your doctor regarding what to expect when you begin a prescription. The longer you take this medication, the more likely you are to develop side effects, so talk with your doctor regarding any potential risk before you start your regimen.
Indications and Usage
Omeprazole may be sold under the brand names Prilosec or Prilosec OTC. It may also be in combination medications including Zegerid or Zegirid OTC. This medication is used to treat gastroesophical reflux disease, erosive esophagus, or gastric and duodenal ulcers. This medication may also be prescribed to assist in the treatments of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal tract bleeding or as a proton pump inhibitor. Omeprazole is available as a delayed release capsule or tablet, suspension powder or in a packet. All of these will be taken orally, typically once a day for up to 14 days in a row. Treatment may be repeated every 4 months as necessary.
Tablets should be taken with a full glass of water. You should not crush, split, chew or mix them into food when you take your prescriptions. Capsules may be opened and stirred into a dish of cool applesauce. Follow this dosage with a class of cool water to ensure all of the medication has been consumed. Oral suspension doses should be mixed with water. The amount of water needed will depend on the size of the dose, so read the instructions on your packet carefully. Do not mix these doses in advance. Omeprazole may be given through a feeding tube if necessary. Take missed doses as soon as you remember unless you are close to the time when you should take your next dose, and do not double up doses to make up for those which were skipped.
The recommended dose for adults will depend on the condition which is being treated. Doses will range from 20-40 mg once or twice a day before meals. A dose for children will be determined by your doctor based on their weight, development and the nature of their condition. Children under 1 year old should not be given omeprazole. The minimum effective dose for omeprazole is 5 mg per day. Doses should not exceed 120 mg per day and should not be taken for longer than 8 weeks at a time, though some extreme conditions may require up to 500 mg doses. Doses this large should not be taken without the direct supervision of a doctor, often given in dual therapy and hospital condition. Patients under 20 kg should not take more than 20 mg of omeprazole per day.
Omeprazole Side Effects
Common side effects of omeprazole include gas, nausea, constipation, vomiting, and headaches. In most cases these are not severe and do not interrupt the patient's ability to use their medication. If side effects interrupt your ability to function or are not dissipating throughout the length of your prescriptions, contact your doctor to determine if you need to alter your dosage. Do not stop taking omeprazole unless you talk to your doctor.
Less common but severe side effects include rash, hives, itching, swelling of the face, hands or legs, hoarseness, lightheadedness, seizures, fever or stomach pain. Contact your doctor right away if you begin to develop these side effects. You may be suffering from an allergic reaction to the medication. You should stop taking omeprazole if any of these side effects occur.
Those using omeprazole as a proton pump inhibitor may be at a higher risk for developing hip, spine or wrist fractures, especially if you take the medication for longer than one year. Those who take this medication for long periods of time may be at risk for weakening their stomach lining. Talk with your doctor regarding these risks before you start your prescription so you can take appropriate measures to avoid these conditions.
Those suffering from liver disease have experienced liver necrosis, hepatic encephalopathy, chlorestatic disease, jaundice, hepatocellular disease or hepatitis while on omeprazole. You will need to discuss your risk for these conditions before you start taking your medication to avoid a potentially fatal condition.
Patients under 16 years of age have not been studied in any tests for omeprazole side effects. You will need to discuss the risks of using this medication before anyone in this age group begins a prescription. Those who are breastfeeding should discuss the potential risk due to this lack of information in young patients. You can transfer this medication to your infant while breastfeeding. There are also no studies which adequately predict the risk of pregnant women using omeprazole so you will need to talk with your doctor to determine whether or not it is safe for you to use this medication during your pregnancy.
If you begin to suffer from nausea, vomiting, flushing, fast or pounding heartbeat, blurred vision, drowsiness, confusion, headache, sweating or dry mouth you may be suffering from an overdose of omeprazole. Contact poison control and emergency medical services immediately, especially if you notice a patient has stopped breathing or has collapsed. Have any information you can find about their regular dose or how much omeprazole they may have consumed ready when you make this call.
Medications known to interact with omeprazole include blood thinners, diuretics, HIV or AIDS medication, cilotazol, clopidogrel, diazepam, digoxin, disulfiram, cyclosporine, tacrloimus, phenytoin, ketoconazole, voriconazole, or amipillin. Talk with your doctor if you are on any of these medications, or medications that may contain these ingredients to avoid a potentially dangerous reaction.
If you have been taking an over the counter version of omeprazole for longer than 14 days, inform your doctor before you begin your prescription to make sure you are not at risk for overdosing. You should not take any version of omeprazole to attempt to treat heartburn. Iron supplements may interact poorly with omeprazole and could increase your risk of side effects. Inform your doctor about any supplements or vitamins you are taking that might contain iron so you can properly access your risk. In some cases, patients may be told to alter their diets or restrict their food and beverage intake while on omeprazole to help cut down on heartburn or the production of stomach acid. Do not alter your diet or level of physical activity without consulting with your doctor first.