Acids in your stomach play a key role in digesting the foods you eat. But, these acids may jump up the food pipe. This condition is known as acid reflux, and it can injure the walls of your food pipe (also known as esophagus). You may treat this condition through self-medication; over the counter (OTC) drugs are available with ease. But, – at times – this condition may also require medical attention along with the intake of prescription drugs. A few forms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also need a surgery. Protonix is a drug used in the treatment of food pipe and stomach related disorders. This proton pump inhibiting drug can trigger a few side effects. It is essential to know the likely side effects of this drug before starting to take it.

The generic name of protonix is pantoprazole. This substance is widely used for the treatment of problems associated with the food pipe and stomach. Protonix is used for the case management of acid build-up in stomach, problems in the food pipe and for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, etc. It can offer relief from an excessive presence of acids in your stomach; its symptoms include swallowing problems, spells of coughing and heartburns.

Main functions of this medication include reduction of acidity levels in your gastrointestinal tract, decrease inflammation in stomach and food pipe. Protonix is also used as a prescription drug for treating cancerous growth in your food pipe. It is categorized under a family of drugs known as Proton Pump Inhibiting (PPI) drugs. Its normal dose is once per day. Strength of your dose and the duration of medication plan depend on various other factors – such as, how well your body responds to doses of protonix, severity of your medical condition, your bodyweight, etc.

Your treating doctor may recommend a regular dosage. You are advised to take protonix at the same timeslot every day; this practice will enhance the efficacy of this drug. It is a good practice to continue taking the medicine as per the treatment plan given to you. At times, it may also be recommended to take this medicine along with an antacid. However, if the symptoms of GERD persist without abating, it is highly recommended to talk to your doctor about it. You need to remember that the risks of side effects of this drug may only increase if you continue taking it for long.

Side effects of protonix

It is important to know that your caregiver has prescribed protonix as its benefits are known to outweigh its likely side effects as well as reactions. In general, protonix is unlikely to trigger any major side effects in people. However, the minor side effects this drug can trigger include indigestion, diarrhea and headaches. These reactions may go away on their own once your body is used to the drug. However, if these side effects persist for long, you are advised to talk to your treating physician without further delay.

Serious side effects

Some of the relatively serious side effects include formation of rashes on cheek or nose, pain in joints and a few other signs characteristic to incidence of lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune condition wherein your immunity cells attack your own healthy tissues. Lupus often leads to spells of tiredness, pains and rashes. A few people have reported a sign that indicates a low level of magnesium in blood. Its other symptoms include convulsions, seizures, twitching of muscles, spasms, arrhythmia or faster rate of heartbeats.

Rare side effects

As an extremely rare occurrence, you may experience diarrhea triggered by a bacterial strand. This bacterial strand is identified as Clostridium difficle – also known as C. diff. This strand may turn active a few days after the discontinuation of the intake of antibiotics. If you experience diarrhea after taking protonix, you are not advised to take opioids or other medicines to stop diarrhea. Always remember that intake of opioid drugs can only aggravate your abdominal condition. So, it is extremely important to inform your treating physician if you experience a persistent spell of diarrhea, cramping of abdominal muscles or if your stool has traces of mucus and / or blood in it.

Other uncommon side effects of protonix

As a very remote occurrence, protonix has led to deficiency of vitamin B – especially, B12. This effect has been observed in people who have taken proton pump inhibiting medications such as protonix for a longer term. Studies indicate that doses taken for more than 30 months or more are likely to trigger this vitamin deficiency.

The B12 vitamin plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells. It is also needed for the synthesis of DNA as well as for the proper functioning of your nervous system. Deficiency of this essential vitamin can lead to irreparable damages to your nerves as well as brain. It can also eventually lead to loss of control of bowel and bladder. People who have taken protonix for a relatively longer timespan have complained about persistent episodes of tiredness as well as numbing of limbs. These symptoms are often linked to the deficiency of B12 vitamin.

Allergies trigged by intake of protonix

Allergies caused by protonix are extremely rare. But, in truly rare instances, the drug may trigger a few serious conditions. These include swelling of your facial parts, itchiness, rashes on your skin, etc. A few people have also experienced – though very rarely – allergies like respiratory problems, altered quantity of urine discharge, acute levels of drowsiness, etc. Also, some of these side effects may indicate a likely incidence of a few other medical conditions. Hence, if you notice acid reflux along with drowsiness, sweating profusely or dizziness, you will need to seek medical attention immediately. Medical help is needed on an emergency basis if you experience an acute pain in your shoulder as well as an inexplicable loss of bodyweight.

Risks of a likely overdose of protonix

If you have missed a dose of protonix, you are advised to take it as soon as you can recall the forgotten dose. But, if the next dose is already coming up, you are advised to avoid taking the dose you skipped. Upon taking two doses in closer time intervals or together may result in an overdosed condition. If you need any further inputs about what to do upon missing a dose, consult your pharmacist for needful guidance. In the event of an overdose, you are likely to experience signs such as respiratory problems, faster heartbeats, gasping for breath, passing out, etc. You need to take medical help on an emergency basis if you develop any of these signs. If you are in Canada, the best thing to do is to call a local poison control center. If you are living in the US, you can get in touch with 911 immediately.

You need to know that all the above mentioned side effects and possible allergies do not form a complete list. So, if you experience any side effects that are not listed here, it is highly recommended to inform your treating doctor about the signs. If you are a resident of the US, you can contact the food and drug administration (FDA) or 911. On the other hand, if you are living in Canada, you need to talk to Health Canada. As an alternative, you can also contact a nearest poison control center to report the side effects and allergic reactions of this medication.

Safety measures to be taken prior to consuming protonix

Allergies and hypersensitivity

In general, you are advised to tell your doctor if you have any known allergies or hypersensitivity to protonix or other proton pump inhibiting medications. For example, if you have had prior allergies to drugs like omeprazole, lansoprazole, etc., the treating physician needs to be informed about such episodes. In some instances, people have turned allergic to a few inactive ingredients used in these medications. So, it becomes essential to tell your doctor about all the drugs that you are currently taking.

Intake of protonix by elderly people
Protonix (also, a few other proton pump inhibiting drugs) may trigger bone damages and fractures. This is often experienced by elderly people when they take doses of protonix for a fairly long time. In such instances, it is a good practice to consult your doctor or pharmacist about how to avoid likely loss of bones or prevent possible risks of fractures. Your doctor may administer vitamin D as well as calcium supplements to strengthen your bones. A few physicians may also prescribe supplements containing calcium-citrate to avoid possible risks of fractures among old patients.

Persistent spell of diarrhea

Elderly people may also be prone to risks of bacterial infections. As mentioned above, the strand named Clostridium difficile is likely to infect the gut leading to a persistent spell of diarrhea. Upon experiencing a continuous episode of diarrhea you are advised to talk to your doctor for needful alternatives. In this case, conventional anti-diarrhea drugs or antibiotic medications may be of limited use; such medicines may in fact maximise the discomforts and can worsen your medical condition.

Medical history and prior medical conditions

It is essential to share your medical history before starting a course of protonix; especially, if you have conditions like lupus, hepatic dysfunction, etc. If you intend having a dental procedure, you may need to tell your dentist about the intake of protonix. Similarly, if you have been advised to undergo a surgical intervention, it is important to tell about the medication plan – especially, the intake of protonix.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are planning to get pregnant or already pregnant, your doctor needs to know about it. In general, protonix is prescribed to pregnant women only if it is extremely essential. You are advised to strictly follow the dosages and duration of the course in such instances. This drug may pass through breast milk. Hence, if you are nursing a baby or breastfeeding, you must tell your doctor about it.

Likely interactions of protonix with other drugs

A few drugs may put stomach acids to use for effective absorption. As protonix reduces the amount of acids in your tummy, this drug can influence the absorption rates of such drugs. If you are taking medications such as nelfinavir, ampicillin or other antifungal drugs belonging to the azole genre (like ketoconazole, itraconazole, etc.) you need to keep your pharmacist informed about taking doses of protonix.

Protonix is known to interact with anti-rheumatic drugs – especially methotrexate and other similar antimetabolite medications, which are known to suppress your immunity levels. Also, if you are undergoing any lab tests, you need to tell your medical team at the lab about current intake of protonix. This is essential because of this drug’s ability to change your lab results – especially, tests done on urine samples as well as tumor marker tests done on blood samples.

In sum, protonix may very rarely trigger major side effects. Common side effects however are diarrhea, headaches and indigestion. These mild discomforts and side effects are generally experienced over a short term, and they may go away once your body gets familiar with this drug. You are advised to consult your treating doctor or pharmacist if any of these side effects persist for long.

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