Gastroesophageal reflux disease (in short, GERD) is known to show up when you have persistent spells of acid reflux. This condition makes gastric juices to move backwards i.e., into your food pipe. When acid reflux / heartburn remain untreated for long, it slowly leads to GERD. The typical signs of a heart burn are pain in your chest as well as throat. Meds such as Prilosec, Nexium, etc. are widely administered to treat such conditions. In this light, it becomes important to know the differences between these two GERD meds.

The signs of GERD are quite similar to those of acid reflux; you are likely to witness sour taste in your mouth, swallowing problems, frequent spells of hiccup, soreness of throat, oral / dental problems, etc. Medical studies show that a malfunctioning of a valve – known as lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – as main reason. A taut and properly functioning LES closes the top surface of stomach effectively; as a result, semi-digested food is unlikely to go past LES. So, when LES loses its ability to close tightly, partly digested foods can get into your food pipe. This soon causes heartburn or acid reflux.

This condition is quite common among the elderly and aged. Risk factors are fairly high among people who are obese (or overweight), women who are pregnant, those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. Also, people living with high / low blood sugar level or with autoimmune conditions such as diabetes mellitus may also develop GERD.

Differences between Prilosec and Nexium

Drugs belonging to a genre called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are commonly prescribed for the treatment of GERD. Most popular meds in this group are omeprazole, esomeprazole, etc. Prilosec is a branded version of omeprazole and Nexium is the branded form of esomeprazole. Meds grouped under PPIs work by controlling enzymes – called proton pumps, which makes acids in your gastric tract.

Both these drugs reduce the quantity of acids your body makes and thus decrease the severity of acid reflux. These meds are used for treating GERD, heartburns, swelling of the food pipe (due to its exposure to harsh acids), ulcers in the duodenum caused by excessive intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), etc.

There are however a few marginal difference between Prilosec and Nexium. On the number of isomers, Prilosec has two of them. On the other hand, Nexium has only one. Nexium’s isomer takes longer time for your system to process. Prilosec’s two isomers take a shorter time to get processed. A longer time taken for Nexium means a relatively longer protection from acids.

On the drug interactions front, the active ingredients of Nexium are processed in a different fashion by your liver. This approach makes way for lesser level of adverse interactions with other drugs. A series of research done a few years go indicates that Nexium may be more effective than Prilosec in treating gastric conditions like GERD.

Regardless of the type of proton pump inhibitors, it is a safe practice to talk to your treating doctor about what suits you best among these two meds. If you witness adverse side-effects such as lose / watery stools, nausea along with vomiting, migraines, etc., you are advised to seek medical support from your caregiving team as quickly as possible. Some studies also link fractures – especially in wrist or spine may occur, mainly among women who experience menopause. In some remote cases, a few users have reported swelling of colon. In all such instances, it becomes important to consult with your treating doctor about safer treatment of GERD, and take needful remedial actions as advised by your caregiver.

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