Esomeprazole is a medication used in the treatment of heartburn and stomach ulcers. It is also used to protect your stomach lining from medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. It works by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Esomeprazole can come in many different formulations; however, tablets are the most common and small amounts can be purchased from a pharmacy, as well as shops and supermarkets.
Esomeprazole is for use by adults over the age of 18. When used for the treatment of a stomach ulcer, it may be combined with antibiotic medication to treat a bacteria called H-pylori. Esomeprazole is also used for other conditions where stomach acid suppression is necessary. It can also be prescribed for children to treat these conditions however, this is only ever done under the close supervision of a doctor.
Esomeprazole belongs to a class of medication called proton pump inhibitors (PPI) and works by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. The medication switches off the stomach acid-producing cells, meaning there is less acid in the stomach to irritate the stomach lining and food pipe (oesophagus).
You should speak to your doctor before starting taking this medication if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. A discussion with your doctor would also be sensible if you are known to have low levels of magnesium, or have recently been suffering from diarrhoea. You should speak to your doctor if you are at risk of osteoporosis (weakened bones), as the medication can interfere with calcium absorption which may in turn further weaken your bones.
As with any medications, some people are bound to get some unwanted side effects. Some of the common ones include headaches, nausea and vomiting, constipation, wind and stomach pain.
If you develop severe muscle cramps, you should speak to your doctor about whether low magnesium levels could be linked to your symptoms. Esomeprazole can also increase your risk of diarrhoea and associated infections (C. difficile). If you do get diarrhoea that does not resolve after a few days, you should let your doctor know.
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