What you need to know about omeprazole: Inside the pouch

Are you taking omeprazole? We’re taking a look inside the pouch to tell you more about this common medication.

Omeprazole was first discovered in 1979 by a Swedish pharmaceutical company. These days, it’s one of the UK’s most prescribed drugs. It features on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines.

The uses of omeprazole

Omeprazole is a medication that treats stomach and digestive issues. These are issues such as heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux. Omeprazole can also be used to treat stomach ulcers. It is also less commonly used for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. This is a rare illness caused by a pancreas or gut tumour.

Omeprazole is one of the PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitor). Like other PPIs, omeprazole reduces the amount of acid your gut produces. It blocks the ‘proton pump’, which secretes gastric acid. An abundance of gastric acid can cause several health issues.

How to take omeprazole

Most people take omeprazole once a day, in the morning. This is usually sufficient. However, for more serious illnesses, doctors may prescribe omeprazole twice a day. In this case, it is taken once in the morning and once in the evening. Check your prescription for omeprazole carefully to check your doctor’s instructions. Or, better still, get PillTime to organise your doses for you. You do not need to take Omeprazole on a full stomach. It’s actually best to take it just before food.

Omeprazole is an oral medication. It’s available in tablet, capsule and liquid forms. Liquid forms may be provided for children and come with a syringe or spoon to help you measure the dose.


Who can take omeprazole?

All adults can take omeprazole. It is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take. However, it’s best to try and treat indigestion without medication first, when pregnant. More advice can be found here.

Children and babies can also take omeprazole, if prescribed by a doctor. Always consult your doctor before taking a new medication. You should let your doctor know of any allergies you may have.

Note: You must also tell your doctor if you have liver problems or have an endoscopy scheduled. Taking omeprazole can distort the results of an endoscopy.

Are there any side-effects of taking omeprazole?

Most people won’t suffer any side effects, or experience some mild symptoms. Any side-effects will usually go away in a couple of weeks, or when you stop taking omeprazole. If you have any persistent or severe symptoms, you should speak to your doctor immediately.

Common side effects include:

  • headaches
  • feeling sick
  • being sick (vomiting) or diarrhoea
  • stomach pain
  • gastrointestinal disturbances
  • constipation
  • wind

Less commonly, omeprazole may cause dizziness. It could also cause difficulty sleeping. It may also cause an itchy or lumpy skin rash, or make your feet or ankles swell. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if these symptoms persist.

Possible interactions

Omeprazole can interact with other common medications. You should always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking a new medication. Common omeprazole interactions include citalopram and clopidogrel. You can view the full list of interactions on the NICE website.

You should not take St. John’s wort with omeprazole, as it can reduce how well it works.

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