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Jul 26, 2022

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The Ultimate Guide to Omeprazole: 7 Key Facts You Shouldn't Miss

What is omeprazole and how does it work?

Omeprazole is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the US. It is typically prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but is also commonly used to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, as well as other throat and digestive system conditions.

Here are 7 things you should know about omeprazole

1. Omeprazole works by stopping acid from being released into your stomach.

When you eat a meal, as the food enters your stomach, your stomach responds by producing a liquid called stomach acid. This acid gets produced, in part, by something called a “proton pump”. The resulting liquid is extremely acidic, as the name suggests. For comparison, stomach acid is even more acidic than either vinegar or lemon juice! This acidity is great for breaking down food but can cause problems if the acid gets anywhere it shouldn’t. Your stomach is protected by a thick layer of mucus so the tissue there doesn’t get damaged by the acid. However, other places like your throat do not have this thick lining, so they can get damaged when they come into contact with the acid.

Omeprazole is a medication in a class of drugs called “proton pumps inhibitors” (PPIs). These medications work by blocking the pump that usually pushes acid into the stomach after you eat a meal. This then decreases the amount of acid in your stomach which helps treat a number of digestive system conditions.

2. Omeprazole can be used to treat multiple conditions

Sometimes the acid in your stomach gets overproduced or can start travelling to places it shouldn’t, like back up your throat. This can cause a range of problems from mild issues, such as acid reflux, to more serious conditions, like ulcers.

Omeprazole has been approved to treat many conditions that come from issues with your stomach acid. This includes gastroesophageal reflux disease, or “GERD” which is a condition where the acid in your stomach comes back up into your throat and causes discomfort and potentially long-term damage.

Another condition that omeprazole treats is called “erosive esophagitis”. This is a condition that usually manifests after GERD has been left untreated for an extended period of time. It’s characterized by damage to the sensitive lining of your throat from repeated exposure to stomach acid.

Both stomach and duodenal ulcers are also treated by a course of omeprazole. An ulcer is a spot, usually in your stomach or duodenum (part of your intestines), where the mucus lining has been worn down and the acid has damaged the sensitive tissue underneath. This is painful and can be very serious if left untreated. Depending on the location and cause of the ulcer, omeprazole could be prescribed alone or in combination with antibiotics.

3. The 7 most common side effects of omeprazole

Although not every person experiences side effects while taking omeprazole, it’s good to know what to look out for. In adults, the 7 most common side effects you may experience while on omeprazole are:

  1. • Headache
  2. • Upset stomach
  3. • Nausea
  4. • Diarrhea
  5. • Vomiting
  6. • Flatulence (gas)
  7. • Respiratory symptoms (most commonly in children)

While these side effects are uncommon, it’s still important to speak with your healthcare provider about any side effects you experience while taking omeprazole. These are also not the only possible side effects of omeprazole, as everyone responds slightly differently to each medication. If you experience any symptoms outside of normal when you are taking this omeprazole, speak with your healthcare provider and they will decide if it’s still in your best interest to continue taking the medication.

4. Who should not take omeprazole?

There is a very long list of medications that you can’t take while on omeprazole. These include many common antidepressants, antibiotics, HIV medications (such as nelfinavir and atazanavir), and many more. One of the most important medications to be aware of when being prescribed PPIs is antiplatelet medications, such as clopidogrel. Using an antiplatelet drug alongside a PPI can lead to major heart problems.

Speak with your healthcare provider before taking omeprazole if you are on any other medications to make sure that they do not interact. This also includes non-prescription medications including natural health products. It’s very important for your healthcare provider to have a full picture of the medications you’re taking in order for them to make sure the combinations are safe and remain effective.

There are also a number of medical conditions that may respond negatively to the use of omeprazole. Because of this, it’s important to discuss any and all medical conditions you have with your healthcare provider before taking omeprazole.

5. You may have to change your diet if you take omeprazole long-term

Long-term use of omeprazole can lead to less absorption of some necessary vitamins and minerals. That is because some vitamins and minerals need the acidity of the stomach acid to get absorbed. The most significant changes are to your levels of:

  1. • Vitamin B12
  2. • Calcium
  3. • Magnesium

Because of this, if you are on long-term omeprazole therapy you should speak with your healthcare provider about potentially taking supplements for vitamin 12, calcium, and magnesium.

To learn more about these risks, read our article about Risks of long-term PPI use.

6. Omeprazole is available both over-the-counter and by prescription

Omeprazole is also available as an over-the-counter medication! The over-the-counter, or “OTC” medication goes by the brand name Prilosec OTC. Both medications have the same active ingredient, but they have different purposes. While the prescription omeprazole is used to treat serious medical conditions, OTC Prilosec is used for patients who have very occasional heartburn. Prescription omeprazole can also be taken long-term, but the OTC version should only be taken for a maximum of 3, 14-day courses per each year.

Since the OTC drug has the same ingredients, it has the same possible interactions and long-term risks, so make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are taking the OTC drug.

Learn more about OTC medications for managing stomach acid and heartburn.

7. You can get omeprazole for a price as low as $6 per month

Marley Drug offers generic omeprazole at a lower price as part of our Wholesale Price List. A 6-month supply costs you $37, and a full 12-month supply only $70. That’s less than $6 a month. We also provide free shipping with our 6- and 12- month supplies, so your medication gets delivered right to your door in 2–3 business days for no extra cost.

Why are our prices so low? We provide wholesale prices, which means our medications are priced based on what it costs us to buy them, not based on the arbitrary price decided by your insurance.

By purchasing our medications directly from accredited wholesalers, we can cut out the insurance company middlemen who usually drive up the costs of drugs with their unpredictable “service fees”. Because of this, by not involving any insurance companies, our prices are competitive and often better than most insurance plans.

To learn more about the pricing of omeprazole, visit our blog post on how to save money by buying more omeprazole.

  1. Omeprazole: generic Prilosec – GoodRx ( Accessed 2022-06-25
  2. Prilosec (omeprazole) – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. [amended 09/2012; accessed 06/2022]
  3. Koyyada, A. (2021). Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors as a risk factor for various adverse manifestations. Therapies, 76(1), 13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.therap.2020.06.019

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