When there is a build-up of acids in your stomach, it is likely to lead to acidity or may result in the formation of ulcers. At times, these gastric acids may climb up the food pipe causing a disorder called gastroesophageal reflux. This can become a persistent condition if left untreated. It may also lead to erosion of teeth, foul-smelling breath, pain in chest, respiratory troubles, etc. Proton pump inhibiting (PPIs) drugs are often prescribed to treat an excessive formation of acids. Omeprazole is a widely used PPI medication. One of the OTC equivalents is Prilosec; it is a good practice to know its likely side effects before stating to use this drug.

Of the different types of proton pump inhibiting (PPI) drugs, Prilosec is used to treat chronic heartburns. It is consumed to prevent the formation of stomach-ulcers. It is also believed to help avoid autoimmune conditions such as cancers of the food pipe (or, esophagus). As this drug is also sold as an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, you are advised to study the instructions carefully if you are self-medicating. It may take at least 2 days for the drug to start functioning. However, it is not a good practice to take the drug for more than 2 weeks. If your condition does not improve after taking it for, say – 7 days, you are advised to consult a qualified medical practitioner.

Prilosec is taken orally and is generally administered once per day. You are advised to take it before food. The frequency of dosages as well as duration of intake is based on the severity of your gastric condition, your gender, body weight and age. Moreover, how well your body responds to this drug also determines the strength and frequency of dosages. In case of younger adults or children, this drug is administered based on their age. It is not recommended to enhance the strength of this drug or increase the frequency of its doses; neither practice can lead to a faster cure. Instead, such practices can lead to aggravating your present medical condition.

Side effects of Prilosec

Prilosec may cause a few side effects. Some of its side effects include pain in the abdomen, chronic headaches, etc. If you are taking the tablet-form of this drug, it is not safe to crush or chew it; such practices may enhance the drug’s actions to start all of a sudden, which can lead to adverse reactions. You hence need to always swallow the pill. Also, you need to note that your doctor has weighed the pros and cons prior to prescribing this drug. You are advised to consume it, since the benefits of this drug clearly outweigh the risks associated with its side effects.

Serious side effects of this drug

In general, Prilosec is unlikely to cause any serious side effects. But, in some remote instances, people have developed some adverse side effects such as likely onset of lupus – characterised by pain in the joints or rashes on your facial parts like cheeks, etc. In a few people, Prilosec has triggered signs of a likely drop of magnesium in blood; this condition can be detected by its distinctive signs such as epileptic fits, convulsions, erratic heartbeats – either too slow or very rapid heartbeats, etc.

Deficiency of essential vitamins

In equally remote cases, Prilosec or other variants of omeprazole may lead to a deficiency of vitamins – especially, vitamin B 12. The typical symptoms of this deficiency are a numbing sensation in your limbs, weariness, soreness of oral parts such as tongue, etc. People who took Prilosec for a fairly long time – i.e., for 24 months or more – are likely to develop such deficiencies. So, if you develop any of these aforesaid signs, you are advised to talk to your doctor immediately.

Allergies or hypersensitivity associated with the consumption of Prilosec

It is uncommon for Prilosec to trigger allergic reactions. But, if you have experienced prior allergies or if you have witnessed possible episodes of hypersensitivity, you need to share needful details about such discomforts with your medical team. It is crucial to share such information before starting to take Prilosec. Though allergies triggered by Prilosec are very uncommon, in some one-off cases, a few people have noticed allergies such as a severe spell of itchiness, rashes on skin, inflammation of oral parts or swelling of facial-organs, acute spells of drowsiness, feeling dizzy, symptoms of renal problems and respiratory conditions such as gasping or wheezing.

Rare but acute side effects of Prilosec

In highly remote instances, this drug may cause an acute gastric condition caused by a bacterial strand called Clostridium difficile or C. difficile. The most important aspect to remember is – the onset of this strand may occur after some weeks of stopping the medication. The most common signs of this condition include cramps, increase in body temperature, traces of mucus or blood in stools, chronic spell of diarrhea, etc. In such instances, intake of anti-diarrheal medicines can only worsen your abdominal discomforts. It is strongly recommended to take medical help at the earliest possible time. Upon experiencing any such acute discomforts, you need to talk to your treating physician on an emergency basis. It is also a good practice to call 911 or reach out to a local poison control center as soon as possible.

Precautions taken to avoid or minimise likely side effects of Prilosec

There are a few ways and means by which you can reduce or decrease the possible side effects of Prilosec. Most importantly, you need to tell the treating physician or your pharmacist about known allergies or hypersensitivity – if any, that you have experienced earlier. Also, if you have had prior allergies to drugs such as pantoprazole, esomeprazole or similar drugs (belonging to the “azole” family), your medical team needs to know about this history.

Despite all these precautions, Prilosec may have a few passive or not-so-active ingredients which may trigger some side effects. If you are witnessing some discomforts soon after starting the medication plan, it is a good practice to report to your treating doctor immediately. Some signs can also be pertaining to acute medical conditions. You need to stay cautious of initial symptoms such as dizziness, pain in limbs or jaw, drowsiness along with heartburns, respiratory problems such as gasping coupled with excessive spells of sweating, etc. In some people, these signs may show up as loss of body weight, traces of blood in vomit, chronic pains – especially in the chest, discomforts experienced while eating or swallowing, abdominal discomforts such as pain in lower abdomen, nausea, etc.

Prior medical conditions and risks of taking Prilosec

It is a very good practice to share your medical history as well as the health history of your family members. People with prior medical conditions such as lupus, hepatic disorders like inflammation of liver, cirrhosis, etc. need to ensure that your medical team is aware of such conditions. Added caution is required if you are taking Prilosec on your own – i.e., self-medicating. Those who self-medicate need to know how to identify serious signs from not-so-serious symptoms; for example, if you vomit frequently, suffer from persistent spells of heartburn, etc. you need to talk to a qualified medical practitioner immediately.

Risks of co-administering a few drugs along with Prilosec

Foremost of all, it is difficult to list all possible risks of interactions between Prilosec and other co-administered drugs. It is a good practice to prepare a list of all the drugs that you are currently taking. Include all drugs you currently take in this list – i.e., prescription meds, over the counter (OTC) drugs as well as dietary or herbal aids. Once you have shared the list, never change the drugs or start taking new drugs; if such changes are made, ensure to tell your treating doctor about them without delay.

Prilosec is known to work adversely with drugs like rifampin (used for bacterial infections in the respiratory tract), methotrexate (an antimetabolite drug – used for the treatment of autoimmune conditions such as arthritis), clopidogrel (administered after a stroke or a cardiac arrest), etc. Exercise caution while taking drugs which need gastric acids to work on them; as Prilosec may reduce these acids, intake of such drugs along with Prilosec can often be counterproductive. Such medications include drugs used for treating fungal infections – especially those belonging to the “azole” category of antifungals.

Elders and the likely risks of bone loss

Long-term use of this drug may lead to weakening or fracturing of bones. This risk is more pronounced among elderly people. So, if this drug is administered to older people, you need to talk to the doctor about risks of possible loss of bones or fracturing; your doctor may recommend calcium supplements to limit or avoid such side effects. As this drug may also cause drowsiness, you need to tell your surgeon about its intake prior to a surgery. In most cases, your surgeon may advise you to stop taking Prilosec for at least a few days prior to a surgery. The same precaution holds good for dental interventions; your dentist may tell you to discontinue Prilosec for some time during the run-up period of your dental surgery or intervention.

Pregnancy and women who are breastfeeding

Women who are pregnant must consume Prilosec only if it is essential. Women must talk to their treating doctor to explore other possible ways to treat an abdominal condition. You must also talk and understand about the possible risks to your fetus; this drug must be taken only if the doctor gives an explicit approval. Similarly, women who are breastfeeding need to know that Prilosec may pass through mother’s milk. But, the side effects it can cause on feeding infants remain undocumented, and are not clinically evidenced. Hence, women who are nursing their baby need to check with their doctor before starting to consume Prilosec.

Administration of Prilosec to children or younger adults

Like elderly people, very young children or those in adolescence may turn more sensitive to Prilosec. This drug must be administered to children only after consulting a pediatrician or a qualified doctor who specialises in treating children. The dosages to children are based on their body weight. The strength of doses is kept at a bare minimal level to avoid incidence of any major side effects. The typical side effects experienced among children include chronic coughs, increase in body temperature, etc. In some children, allergies may show up in the form of discomforts in the air pathways – especially, nasal passages.

In sum, the aforesaid allergies, discomforts and side effects do not represent a complete list. So, it is possible that you may notice new side effects or discomforts after starting to take Prilosec. If you notice such unknown discomforts, you must talk to your treating doctor without any delay. If these new discomforts are becoming acute, you need to call 911 for quick medical help; you may also consider calling the nearest poison control center for needful medical attention on an emergency basis. If you are a resident of any of the provinces in Canada, you can get in touch with Health Canada or a poison control unit located closer home, i.e., in the province where you are living. If you notice any side effects not experienced / known earlier, you can also reach out to the emergency helpline number of the food and drug administration (FDA) in the US.

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