Like any drug, Prilosec has both good and bad side effects. Prilosec is a drug used by over 27 million patients to help with acid reflux and heartburn available for over 20 years. If you’re considering taking the over-the-counter version of the drug, or your doctor has prescribed a higher dosage, you’re probably wondering about those Prilosec side effects.
What is Prilosec?
Prilosec is the brand name for a drug called omeprazole. The 20mg dosage is the only one available over-the-counter. You’ll need a prescription for higher dosages, which range from 40mg to 120mg.
Prilosec is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which works by decreasing the amount of acid that your stomach produces. A PPI like Prilosec does this by blocking the enzyme in the stomach wall that produces acid.
Here’s A Video of “An Honest Opinion Taking a Prilosec”
When to Take Prilosec
If you experience heartburn and it lasts for two or more days, your doctor might recommend that you take Prilosec. Take the over-the-counter option for fourteen days, after which you should consult a doctor if you’re still experiencing acid reflux and heartburn. You can only take the 14-day course up to three times a year.
The over-the-counter Prilosec doesn’t give immediate relief, and you’ll need to take the full regimen to see results. Take the pill before breakfast for best results. Even if you’re not experiencing relief right away, you can only take one tablet daily.
Prescription-strength omeprazole might be a better choice if you have conditions like stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a condition in which your stomach produces too much acid. Doctors also sometimes prescribe it for seriously ill patients with upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
Long-term use of PPIs depletes the body’s calcium and interferes with Vitamin B12 absorption, which can decrease bone density. Taking Prilosec more often than recommended can cause brittle bones and fractures in the wrists, hips or spine. Always follow the box’s guidelines or your doctor’s instructions.
When NOT to Take Prilosec
While you may be desperate for relief from your heartburn, there are instances in which you should not take Prilosec. These include interactions with other medications and medical conditions.
Because the drug works by reducing stomach acid, it can interfere with the absorption of some medications. If you’re not absorbing the full dose, you may not get the full benefits of these drugs. Let your doctor know if you’re taking any of the following:
- Warfarin (a blood-thinning medicine)
- Diazepam (an anxiety medicine)
- Digoxin (a heart medicine)
- Prescription antifungal or anti-yeast medication
However, you should always tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking (even drugs you buy over-the-counter) so that they can check for contraindications. Prilosec is often used in combination with other medicines. In those cases, your doctor may adjust the dosages to reduce the likelihood of side effects.
If you have certain serious conditions, Prilosec might not be the best medication for treating your heartburn and acid reflux.
Diarrhea and seizures are two of the possible side effects of Prilosec. Taking Prilosec if you’re already suffering from either of these conditions could make them worse, which is dangerous. Severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and frequent seizures can cause brain damage.
Hypomagnesemia is a condition where sufferers have low magnesium levels in their blood. Lowered magnesium levels are also a side effect of taking Prilosec. Similar to patients who already suffer from diarrhea and seizures, it’s not a good idea to add on to the existing problem.
Due to hormonal changes or calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies, patients with osteoporosis already have brittle and fragile bones. Long-term use of Prilosec will impact bone density. For that reason, if you have or are at risk for osteoporosis your doctor may also prescribe calcium and Vitamin D if they think you should be taking a PPI.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its tissues. Some of its symptoms, such as joint pain and rash, are also Prilosec side effects. It might not be possible for a doctor to tell if a patient is reacting to Prilosec if they already have these symptoms, and Prilosec could cause the symptoms to get worse, known as flaring.
- Suppressing your stomach’s acid levels effects gut bacteria. When patients with liver disease have less stomach acid because they take a PPI, it worsens inflammation and increases the disease’s progression. Also, taking PPI’s can increase your risk of liver disease later in life.
Initial Physical Prilosec Side Effects
You’re unlikely to experience all of the many physical side effects that researchers, doctors, and patients reported because of Prilosec use. If you do have one or two side effects, they often resolve after you take the drug for a few days and your body gets used to having it in your system. As you might expect for a drug that works in your stomach, many of Prilosec’s side effects are gastrointestinal.
Physical Prilosec side effects include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Stomach upset or pain
- A cough
- Cold symptoms
Physical Prilosec Side Effects After Prolonged Use
Talk to your doctor if you’ve already been taking the OTC version of Prilosec and have experienced any of the following Prilosec side effects.
- Heartburn lasting three or more months
- Chest, stomach or shoulder pain
- Wheezing, shortness of breath
- Pain in arms, neck or shoulders that spreads
- Vomiting, especially bloody vomit
- Bloody or black stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lightheadedness, sweating or dizziness at the same time you have heartburn
- Pain or difficulty swallowing food
All of these are signs that the medication may not be working as intended. These side effects could also indicate that the heartburn that led you to take Prilosec in the first place was itself a symptom of another problem, or otherwise masking another physical problem.
Psychological Prilosec Side Effects
It used to be thought that the drug only worked in the gut and there were no psychological Prilosec side effects. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that it can impact the whole body, including the brain. People taking PPI’s are twice as likely to report depression or anxiety.
This research is new, but researchers recommended keeping an eye on the mental health of patients taking Prilosec.
Serious Prilosec Side Effects
While Prilosec is often prescribed with antibiotics when treating ulcers, sometimes the combination of the drugs can cause a serious allergic reaction. Swelling in the mouth, face or hands while using the medicine could indicate an allergy. Other signs include itching and difficulties breathing and swallowing.
In rare cases, taking Prilosec has been linked to developing an acute kidney problem called acute interstitial nephritis. Symptoms include unusual and rapid weight gain, fever, skin rashes, joint pain, and swelling in your body, feet or ankles. Monitor your body’s physical reaction to the drug and contact a doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.
Is Prilosec Worth It?
Prilosec is extremely effective at stopping persistent and recurring acid reflux and heartburn. Because it has a lasting effect, using it can also heal acid damage to the stomach and esophagus. There is some evidence that it can prevent ulcers and cancer of the esophagus.
Taken properly, Prilosec is an effective and safe medication for acid reflux and heartburn relief. Consult with a doctor and watch your body’s reaction to the drug before and while taking it. Used over a short to mid-term period Prilosec helps many people enjoy life, and eating, again.