Treatment for gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer includes the use of special protective agents in medicine. Medically known as gastro-duodenal protective agents, these medications are often used to prevent duodenal ulcer recurrence. Carafate is one among the medications that belong to this category and is typically used as a short term treatment for a period of two months, when treating duodenal ulcer. A common question frequently posed to treating specialists by patients is – can you buy something like Carafate over the counter without a prescription? Following subsections offer a detailed look at the medication, and offer a clear answer to this question.

Overview of Carafate

As outlined above, the drug is used to prevent, treat various gastrointestinal tract conditions. For instance, it is used by patients with duodenal ulcers, GERD – gastro-esophageal reflux disease, and gastritis. Additionally, it is also used in the treatment of peptic ulcer, stress ulcer and dyspepsia. The drug is medically classified as a cytoprotective agent, and drugs of this category are known to protect cells in the GI tract. There is the possibility of damage to the GI tract from gastric acid, alcohol, bile, and acetylsalicylic acid, and these protective agents are known to offer protection from the damage. Carafate is popular, mainly because it is known to be well-tolerated and safe.

Available as tablets and as a suspension, it has been in use in one form for the more than four decades since FDA approval. It is important to note that the medication is effective in healing ulcer in patients, but may not be effective in preventing certain ulcers.

How does Carafate work?

The mechanism of action of Carafate is yet to be fully established conclusively by linking it to duodenal ulcers healings. However, various actions are attributed to the healing properties. Studies have determined that the medication works in a localized manner towards healing of tissues. This differs from mechanism of actions of drugs that work in a systemic manner. Research has revealed that the medication creates a protective layer, by binding to the exudate on the surface of ulcers. Exudate refers to the fluid that leaks out of blood vessels. This fluid typically contains proteins, cells and substances. The medication is known to bind to protein rich fluids, on the surface of ulcers.

The drug also binds to albumin and fibrinogen, and this binding action brings about a prevention of blood clot lysis. Carafate is also known to contribute to fibroblast and epidermal growth factors. This in turn, results in an increase of prostaglandins in the GI tract lining; and as a result, ulcers are healed effectively.

Tests that showed the efficacy of Carafate

Tests in laboratories have determined that the protective film caused as a result of the mechanism of action, creates a barrier. This in turn prevents the entry of hydrogen ions; these ions are known to be an important part of gastric acid formation. Pepsin is known to have a damaging effect on tissues, and the medication has been proven to reduce pepsin activity in gastric fluids significantly. Similarly, bile salts are known to be responsible for mucosal injury, and the medication is known to adsorb, which helps in healing.  

Can you buy something like Carafate over the counter without a prescription?

With all the background information above, it is time to answer the question. Unfortunately, there are no OTC formulations or products that are similar to Carafate. By virtue of the mechanism of action, the drug belongs to a category that is prescription only. However, there are other OTC formulations that can offer some relief to patients suffering from the same conditions that Carafate treats. But, the manner in which the medications work and the outcomes will differ considerably.

Important information for patients planning to take Carafate

Specific categories of patients are not to take the drug under certain circumstances. For instance, patients who have had an allergic reaction in the past to Carafate are not to take it, as subsequent intakes are likely to trigger serious or stronger outcomes. Patients diagnosed with diabetes, and kidney ailments are to explicitly mention the conditions to the treating specialist. Patients undergoing dialysis are also to seek consent from the specialist before commencing treatment with Carafate. Elderly patients may experience certain stronger undesirable outcomes from the medication and are to be monitored for indications of the same. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding, require medical consent before beginning a course of this drug. Children are also to be given the medication only after a proper diagnosis and prescription from the doctor.

Commonly reported side effects of Carafate

All medications come with the possibility of undesirable effects; Carafate is no exception. The types of effects may differ among patients and it is necessary to identify effects that are serious and effects that are not serious. For instance, patients who experience symptoms that are indicative of allergic reactions are to seek urgent medical treatment at a healthcare facility. This could be hives, or any difficulty in breathing, or visible swelling in the face. Swelling could also extend to the lips or the tongue. Other possible undesirable effects include bouts of constipation or diarrhea, apart from feelings of nausea and vomiting sensations. The patient may sometimes end up with flatulence and indigestion.

Instructions for intake of Carafate

The medication, as mentioned earlier, is available as a tablet and also as suspension. In the event of the medication being prescribed for treatment of ulcers, it is typically taken four times daily. When prescribed for prevention of recurrence of ulcers after treatment, the dose is usually twice a day. Ideally, the medication is to be taken on an empty stomach. Therefore, Carafate is to be taken either one hour before a meal or two hours after a meal. The dosage typically extends for two months for the desired results.

What are the symptoms of overdose of Carafate

There are tell-tale symptoms that can help identify overdose of Carafate. This includes possible indigestion, feelings of nausea and vomiting. The patient may also experience pain in the abdomen as a result of an excessive dose. It is important to stick to the prescribed dosages. When symptoms are intensive or extended, it may be necessary to seek medical intervention.

Leave a Reply