Acid reflux occurs when acids present in your stomach travel upwards in your food pipe or esophagus. If you have such heartburns once in a while it is not considered as a medical condition. But, if you are experiencing this condition more frequently, i.e., more than once every week, it is termed as a gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. It is often characterised by a pain in the bottom part of your chest region. This is however considered as a common condition. More than 55 million people in the US complain about heartburns each month. Also, millions of people report about such discomforts on a daily basis. If left untreated, GERD can lead to various acute conditions. Drugs such as pantoprazole are used for the treatment of this medical condition. This drug may however trigger a few adverse side effects; you are hence advised to talk to your physician prior to starting the medication plan.
Your stomach is home to concentrated acids, such a hydrochloric acid (HCL). This gastric acid helps food you consume to be broken down. These acids also offer needful protection against bacteria living in the digestive tract. So, how is your stomach protected from such strong gastric juices / acids? The walls of your stomach have a unique layer of lining; this lining offers needful protection from the harsh gastric acids. This protection is however not available for your food pipe. Moreover, a valve – in the form of a muscular ring – lets food to enter inside your stomach. This is a one-way valve; it never allows food to re-enter the food pipe. But, when the valve weakens, foods from the stomach may start re-entering the food pipe. These action leads to acid reflux or heartburn.
Many factors are believed to cause heartburns. Major reasons for this condition include formation of an opening in the diaphragm, letting contents of the stomach to get inside the chamber of the chest; being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle or smoking. People who take medications to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or bronchial-asthma, painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cardiac drugs such as calcium channel blockers, etc. are also likely to experience heartburns or acid reflux. Other reasons include frequent intake of larger-meals, intake of foods low on fiber, lying-down or sleeping immediately after a meal, eating a large bar of chocolate or drinking acidic or carbonated fluids / juices.
Safe use of pantoprazole
Pantoprazole is used for the treatment of problems and discomforts in your food pipe or stomach, triggered by heartburn, reflux (GERD), etc. The main function of this drug is to reduce acid levels in your stomach, by enabling lesser secretion of these gastric acids. Once there are lesser amounts of acids in the gastric tract, you are likely to be relieved from acid reflux, heartburns, coughing or swallowing problems. Pantoprazole belongs to a family of medications called proton pump inhibiting drugs or simply, PPIs. This class of meds is also used for the prevention of ulcers, limit damages caused by acids in your food pipe or stomach, prevent cancers in food pipe as well as upper abdomen, etc.
This drug is taken orally, and your doctor may advise you to take a single dose each day. However, the dosage level may vary based on multiple factors such as your age, gender, seriousness of your medical condition as well as how well your body responds to regular dosages of pantoprazole. Your doctor or pharmacist may tell you to swallow the pill by drinking needful amounts of water. It is hence not a good practice to crush or chew it; when you consume this drug using such methods, you are likely to undermine its efficacy.
In some instances, your treating physician may have prescribed a granular form of pantoprazole. Such forms are taken at least half hour prior to a meal. The granular form of pantoprazole is taken by mixing it with fluids like apple juices or other such fluids. Regardless of the form of this drug, it must be taken regularly to make the most of its capabilities. Also, ensure to take this drug at the same timeslot each day to enhance its efficacy.
Above all, it is strongly recommended to read the dosage instructions listed in the drug guide or medication booklet, which is generally available with the pharmacist. For added safety, you are advised to read the instructions and guidelines for the safe use of pantoprazole every time you opt for a refill. Despite a regular intake of the doses, if your condition remains unchanged or gets aggravated, you need to talk to your treating physician immediately.
Side effects of pantoprazole
This acid-reducing drug is likely to trigger a few undesired side effects. The most commonly experienced side effects include abdominal problems such as indigestion or diarrhea as well as headaches. These minor discomforts may however disappear as soon as your system gets used to this drug and its active ingredients. But, if these adverse side effects do not go away naturally after sometime, you need to talk to your doctor immediately.
A few rare side effects
In some very rare instances, this drug may activate a bacterial strand known as C. difficile. This strand is likely to trigger a few abdominal discomforts such as a persistent spell of diarrhea, pain in abdomen, traces of mucus or blood in the stools, increase in body temperature, cramping of muscles in the abdomen or muscular pains. These symptoms may arise in a few weeks (at times, even after a few months) after you stop taking doses of pantoprazole. You need to note that self-treatments with opioid based drugs or anti-diarrheal meds taken to treat any of the aforesaid discomforts may only make your abdominal condition worse.
You also need to know that a few side effects of pantoprazole may turn into acute medical conditions. It is hence recommended to watch the adverse reactions you experience – especially, during the first few days of starting your medication plan. If you encounter adverse side effects or allergic reactions such as gasping for breath along with sweating profusely, pain in the joints combined with a severe spell of drowsiness, inexplicable loss of body weight, acid reflux with dizziness or being lightheaded, etc., your doctor needs to be promptly informed of these symptoms.
Deficiency of vitamin
In equally rare circumstances, pantoprazole may result in deficiency of vitamin B-12. The key symptoms to watch-out for are tingling sensation – especially on your limbs, soreness of oral parts, numbed feeling in your legs or hands, persistent spells of weariness, etc. You are also advised to remain conscious of possible allergies pantoprazole may cause. The likely allergic reactions this drug may trigger are persistent spells of drowsiness, itchiness, rashes on skin, inflammation of oral or facial parts, respiratory problems and a few symptoms of renal dysfunction (such as discoloration of urine, swelling of feet, altered discharge of urine, etc.).
Risks of fractures or bone losses
Intake of proton pump inhibitors – such as omeprazole or pantoprazole – may sometimes lead to bone related disorders. These serious side effects are more pronounced among people who take proton pump inhibiting drugs (PPIs) for a fairly long time of say, more than a year or two. In case of such long term use, you are likely to experience fractures as well as loss of bones. You are advised to tell your physician about such bone conditions as soon as possible. Your doctor will prescribe supplements of vitamin D as well as calcium supplements. Regular intake of these supplements is advised to minimise or prevent likely damages to bones, fractures or loss of bones.
Those who are already living with bone related disorders need to pay a closer attention to likely changes in their motor functions. In order to avoid an acute loss of bones, you are advised to seek more information from your treating physician before stating the medication plan. In this light, you need to remember that bone losses or fractures are more likely to occur when pantoprazole is administered to elders or older patients. On a related note, elders may also witness additional risks of an onset of abdominal discomforts triggered by strands of C. difficile – as mentioned above.
Other medical conditions
You also need to stay cautious of other acute side effects such as symptoms of lupus or signs of a marked drop in magnesium levels in your blood. Common symptoms associated with the onset of lupus include pain in joints, rashes on the skin – especially, on your face (cheeks, nose, chin, etc.). The signs linked to a reduction in magnesium of blood are muscular twitches, fits, convulsions, erratic heartbeats, rapid pulse rates, etc.
Interactions with other drugs
Pantoprazole is likely to work adversely with some drugs, especially while they are co-administered. Intake of sucralfate and pantoprazole at the same time is not recommended. You are advised to take sucralfate at least half hour after consuming your daily dose of pantoprazole. A few other drugs with which pantoprazole may interact include azole-genre of antifungals (such as ketoconazole and other similar drugs), drugs to treat autoimmune conditions like cancers (such as methotrexate) as well as with reagents used for a few lab tests; especially, urine-based diagnostic tests or some blood tests.
Pantoprazole works very similar to a few other proton pump inhibiting drugs like omeprazole, lansoprazole, etc. So, if you have any known allergies to such drugs, your medical team must be told about the side effects or discomforts you experienced earlier. More importantly, tell your physician if you are taking drugs to treat conditions like lupus or hepatic disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding women
Pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant are advised to exert needful caution before consuming this drug. In general, the use of this drug on pregnant women is recommended only when there is a pressing need for it. Also, women who are nursing their baby need to know that this drug may get into mother’s milk. So, it is advised to keep away from this drug while you are nursing a baby.
Always remember that the abovementioned side effects, allergic reactions and discomforts do not represent a full list. It is possible that this drug may trigger a few unknown or unlisted discomforts and side effects. In such instances, it is highly recommended to talk to your treating physician promptly or call 911 to seek immediate medical help. If the side effects are severe, call a local poison control center located closer to where you are living. If you are living in any of the Canadian provinces, it is recommended to call Health Canada quickly or reach out to a poison control unit in your province.