What is Omeprazole?
Omeprazole reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes. It’s a widely-used treatment for indigestion and acid reflux. It’s also taken to prevent and treat stomach ulcers.
If you’re self-treating with omeprazole, don’t take it for longer than 2 weeks without checking with a doctor.
Some omeprazole capsules contain small amounts of lactose, so they may be unsuitable for people with a digestive problem called lactose intolerance.
To make sure omeprazole is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
had an allergic reaction to omeprazole or any other medicines in the past
How and when to take Omeprazole?
It’s usual to take omeprazole once a day, first thing in the morning. It doesn’t upset the stomach so you can take it with or without food.
If you take omeprazole twice a day, take one dose in the morning and one dose in the evening.
The usual dose to treat indigestion is 10mg to 20mg a day, acid reflux disease is 20mg to 40mg a day.
Swallow tablets and capsules whole with a glass of water or juice.
Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). If it keeps happening, it’s called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
Check if you have acid reflux
The main symptoms of acid reflux are:
heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid
You may also have:
a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
a hoarse voice
bloating and feeling sick
Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
Causes of heartburn and acid reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
certain food and drink – such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate, and fatty or spicy foods
stress and anxiety
some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers (like ibuprofen)
a hiatus hernia – when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
How you can ease heartburn and acid reflux yourself
Simple lifestyle changes can help stop or reduce heartburn.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Raise one end of your bed 10-20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress – to make it so your chest and head are above the level of your waist, so stomach acid doesn’t travel upwards towards your throat
Try to lose weight if you’re overweight
Try find ways to relax
Have food or drink that triggers your symptoms
Eat within 3 or 4 hours before bed
Wear clothes that are tight around your waist
Drink too much alcohol
Stop taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to a doctor first
A pharmacist can help with heartburn and acid reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
See a GP if:
Lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines aren’t helping
You have heartburn most days for 3 weeks or more
You have other symptoms, like food getting stuck in your throat, frequently being sick or losing weight for no reason
Your GP can provide stronger treatments and help rule out any more serious possible causes of your symptoms.
Most people who take omeprazole don’t have any side effects. If you do get a side effect, it’s usually mild and will go away when you stop taking omeprazole.
Common side effects
Common side effects, which happen in more than 1 in 100 people, include:
feeling sick or vomiting
Omeprazole may also make you feel dizzy or sleepy. Some people might find it difficult to fall asleep.
It may also cause an itchy or lumpy skin rash or make your feet or ankles swell.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects bother you or don’t go away.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
Tell a doctor straight away if you have:
joint pain along with a red skin rash, especially in parts of your body exposed to the sun, such as your arms, cheeks and nose – these can be signs of a rare condition called subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus that can happen weeks or even years after taking omeprazole
yellow skin, dark pee and tiredness – these can be signs of liver problems
reddening, blisters and peeling of the skin, there may also be severe blisters and bleeding in the lips, eyes, mouth, nose and genitals – these can be signs of Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction to omeprazole.
A serious allergic reaction is an emergency. Contact a doctor straight away if you think you or someone around you is having a serious allergic reaction.
These are not all the side effects of Losec/omeprazole. For a full list see the patient information leaflet.
Further information can be found on the manufacturers
patient information leaflet.