Changes in lifestyle and several modern habits are adding a few complications to our health. Stressful living as well as a regular intake of fast-foods is attributed to many health problems. Chief among such problems is the incidence of ulcers. Studies reveal that one in every 10 people living in the US is likely to suffer from ulcers. The common signs of an ulcer are – a pain in your abdomen, a burning sensation as well as a gnawing experience in your gastric tract. Drugs such as sucralfate are administered to treat ulcerous conditions. But, can this drug cause renal problems? It is crucial to know about the risks involved even before starting to take sucralfate.

Ulcers are essentially a rupture of an inner lining of the top part of your small intestines; this part is often called as duodenum. Intake of excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking tobacco-based products or taking fat-based, spicy foods is often attributed as the likely causes. Other possible reasons include excessive intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or painkillers (meds like naproxen, aspirin or ibuprofen), age-related factors, etc. Elderly people are more vulnerable as they may consume painkilling meds such as aspirin or ibuprofen – mainly to treat autoimmune conditions. Common conditions that may afflict elders are arthritis, inflammation of muscles, etc.

Use of sucralfate for treating ulcers

Of the several drugs prescribed for the treatment of ulcers, sucralfate is a widely used medication. The drug (and its active ingredients) works by forming a protective layer on the ruptured parts of your intestines. This action soon leads to curing ulcerous conditions. It is essential to take this med at the same time each day; the usual dose is twice or thrice per day. It is important to take this drug before a meal. You may observe better results if you are taking it at least 60 minutes prior to a meal. However, no two people – living with ulcers – may be advised to take the same dosage plan. Your medication plan depends on your age, nature of your medical condition and also on how well your system reacts to the first few dosages.

You are advised to tell your doctor if you are experiencing any of these conditions – viz., swallowing problems, a feeling of fullness in your tummy and other abdominal problems such as vomiting, nausea or acid reflux (also known as heartburns). In some one-off instances, sucralfate may also cause a few allergies. Acute forms of these allergies may include extreme levels of drowsiness, swelling of oral organs, respiratory problems like wheezing or gasping; a few skin conditions such as hives, discoloration or swelling.

Can intake of sucralfate cause kidney problems?

Among the precautions needed prior to starting the intake of sucralfate, you may need to be watchful of your renal wellbeing. If you are living with kidney problems (such as a chronic renal disorder or if you are undergoing dialysis – more than twice each week), your medical team needs to be aware of this fact. As you grow old, the efficiency of your renal function drops. Your kidneys play a critical role in eliminating many forms of waste from your system. Aluminum is one such item eliminated with the help of kidneys. As sucralfate contains aluminum, people with renal dysfunction may find it difficult to eliminate traces of this metal. Hence, a sub-optimal working condition or a poor filtration capability of your kidneys only means there is a risk of likely build-up of aluminum.

Some people may take antacids or other such drugs if they have abdominal problems or ulcers. You are advised to take antacids along with sucralfate only after consulting with your treating doctor or a pharmacist. It is safe practice to take antacids after a time interval of at least 45 minutes – i.e., co-administration of sucralfate and an antacid without time interval of 45 minutes in between is strictly not recommended. In this light, it also becomes essential to know that some antacids may also contain aluminum in them. So, taking these two drugs – even with some time interval – is likely to lead to higher deposits of this metal in your system. In general, people who are aged above 50 years need to exert added caution.

Always remember that the above listing does not represent a complete list of all possible side effects of sucralfate as well as precautions. It is hence possible to encounter a few discomforts, adverse side effects or undesired allergic reactions which are not listed above. Upon witnessing one or more new signs and symptoms, it is highly recommended to contact your treating physician as quickly as you possibly can. Those who are residents of the US may consider reaching out to 911. Alternatively, you can also establish contact with the helpdesk of the food and drug administration (FDA) in the US.

If you are a resident of any of the provinces in Canada, you may contact Health Canada for needful medical help on an emergency basis. You may also reach out to a poison control center situated closer to your home. Always remember that this drug needs to be taken under the clinical care and guidance of a qualified medical practitioner or a pharmacist. No two people may be administered with the same dosages or medication plan; hence, it is not safe to give this drug to a family member or a friend who has similar problems or symptoms. Also, it is equally important to adhere to dosage strengths, as advised by your treating physician. A few people may increase the dosage levels or intake frequency of this drug without taking the consent of their treating doctor. These are not good practices; these may only aggravate / worsen your already existing clinical condition.

In sum, sucralfate is a widely prescribed drug to manage ulcers and other related internal conditions. Its active ingredients form a protective covering on the damaged / ruptured regions of your small intestines. Such a protective layer insulates the damaged part, and prevents it from further damages. If your medical history has renal problems or if you are currently living with kidney disorders, your physician must be aware of such pre-existing ailments. Sucralfate is known to have traces of aluminum in it; so, those with kidney problems may not be able to fully discharge this substance. Over a period of time, there is a risk of an accumulation of aluminum in your system. So, always consult with your treating doctor and / or pharmacist before starting to take antacids or meds such as sucralfate.

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