How Effective is Prilosec for GERD & What are its Side Effects, Dosage ?

Acid reflux occurring more than twice a week which causes inflammation of the esophagus is called as GERD. Prilosec is a medication used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Let us see what Prilosec is, know its effectiveness, dosage, side effects in treating GERD.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disorder which affects the ring muscle located between the esophagus and stomach called as lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, a feeling of being too full and trouble in swallowing. It affects people of all ages, including children.

Prilosec for GERD

Prilosec is a brand name for the generic drug, omeprazole. It is used to treat GERD as well as inflammation of esophagus, heartburn, stomach/duodenal ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori, stomach upset and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. It is available in tablet, capsule and liquid forms that can be taken orally. It is sometimes used in the form of a combination therapy by combining it with other medications to achieve the desired goal.

Prilosec belongs to a class of drugs called as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). It decreases the acid produced by proton pumps (enzymes present in the parietal cells of the stomach lining). During acid production the proton pump participates in the final step. It basically blocks the proton pump to produce less acid.

How Effective is Prilosec in Treating GERD?

How Effective is Prilosec in Treating GERD?

It is important to know the effectiveness of Prilosec for GERD before using it. Prilosec is very effective in treating gastric acid-related conditions, including:

  • Esophagitis/inflammation/erosion of esophagus.
  • Heartburn.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Stomach/duodenal ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome; in this disease tumors produce excessive stomach acid.
  • Prilosec has been proved out to be a safe and effective drug in treating all these conditions.

Dosage of Prilosec

Prilosec is best taken with medical advice, however, it is good to be aware of the dosage of Prilosec when using it.

Dosage for individuals, 17 years and older, initially 20 mg orally once a day before a meal for 4-8 weeks is given. If required, the dosage may be increased to 40 mg per day. For maintenance therapy 10-20 mg per day of Prilosec may be required.

Dosages for ages 2–16 years depends on child’s weight. For a 5-9 kg, 5 mg is taken once per day. For a 10-19 kg, 10 mg is taken once per day and for 20 kg or more 20 mg is taken once per day.

Prilosec is available in the form of capsule, tablets and delayed-release oral suspension. It is available in strengths of 2.5 mg and 10 mg. The dosage of Prilosec is decided by the treating physician and it is important to follow medical advice.

Side Effects of Prilosec

A side effect is an unintended and undesired effect that occurs at normal pharmacological dose. Some of the side effects of Prilosec include the following.

Common Side Effects of Prilosec in Adults Include

Common Side Effects of Prilosec in Children Include

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • Fever
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain

Some Serious Side Effects of Prilosec

  • Low magnesium levels: Using Prilosec for 3 months or longer may cause low magnesium levels.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency: Using Prilosec for more than 3 years can make it harder for body to absorb vitamin B-12.
  • Severe diarrhea may be caused by a Clostridium difficile infection in intestines.
  • Inflammation of stomach lining.
  • Bone fractures can be caused due to prolonged use for a year or longer.
  • Kidney damage due to prolonged use.
  • Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE).
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

As a general rule, medications must be taken only with medical consultation. Considering the side effects of Prilosec, it is necessary to seek medical advice if you have the following conditions.

  • Liver problems -This drug may change the way liver works. In case of severe liver problems, doctor may decrease the dose.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficient -Prilosec decreases the acid amount produced in stomach. Acid of stomach is required for the absorption of vitamin B-12. Your doctor may monitor vitamin B-12 levels, if the drug is taken for more than 3 years and give vitamin B-12 injections, if required.
  • Osteoporosis – An increase in the risk of fractures is seen in individuals taking multiple doses of Prilosec every day for a year or longer. These fractures happen more likely in hip, wrist, or spine. If you are already suffering from osteoporosis, there is an increased risk of bone fractures.
  • Hypomagnesia patients -Taking this drug for 3 months or more may cause low magnesium levels. Low magnesium levels can be serious. Doctor will monitor the magnesium levels during the treatment and may give supplements if required.

Contraindications of Prilosec

It is also important to note the complications of Prilosec to ensure its effective use without any complications. Prilosec can be harmful for pregnant and nursing women, with risk to their babies. So, consult doctor urgently in case you become pregnant while on this drug.

Do not use over-the-counter Prilosec without the advice of a doctor if having:

  • Bloody/black stools.
  • frequent chest pains.
  • heartburn with wheezing.
  • heartburn lasted for more than 3 months.
  • nausea/vomiting.
  • stomach pain.
  • trouble/pain while swallowing.
  • unexplained weight loss.
  • vomit looking like blood or coffee grounds.

Prilosec should be avoided with certain medications like Atazanavir and Nelfinavir, Voriconazole, Digoxin, Warfarin, Phenytoin, Cilostazol, Tacrolimus, Methotrexate, Diazepam, Benzodiazepines, Ampicillin esters, Ketoconazole, Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), Iron salts, Erlotinib and Clopidogrel. There may be other medicines and conditions, in which Prilosec may be contraindicated, hence medical advice is necessary.

Take Away

It is clear that Prilosec is an effective drug for treating GERD. Do consult your physician before taking this medication.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 10, 2019

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