Omeprazole is used to treat certain stomach and esophagus problems (such as acid reflux, ulcers). It works by decreasing the amount of acid your stomach makes. It relieves symptoms such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and persistent cough. This medication helps heal acid damage to the stomach and esophagus, helps prevent ulcers, and may help prevent cancer of the esophagus. Omeprazole belongs to a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
If you are self-treating with this medication, over-the-counter omeprazole products are used to treat frequent heartburn (occurring 2 or more days a week). Since it may take 1 to 4 days to have full effect, these products do not relieve heartburn right away.
For over-the-counter products, carefully read the package instructions to make sure the product is right for you. Check the ingredients on the label even if you have used the product before. The manufacturer may have changed the ingredients. Also, products with similar brand names may contain different ingredients meant for different purposes. Taking the wrong product could harm you.
How to Use This Medication
If your doctor has prescribed this medication for you, read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking omeprazole and each time you get a refill. If you are taking the over-the-counter product to self-treat, read and follow all directions on the product package before taking this medication.
Take this medication by mouth as directed, usually once daily before a meal. The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. In children, the dosage is also based on weight. Do not increase your dose or take this drug more often than directed. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not crush, break, or chew delayed release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects.
If you are using the disintegrating delayed release tablets, use dry hands to handle the tablets. Place the tablet on your tongue and let it dissolve. After the tablet has dissolved, it can be swallowed with or without water. The tablets can also be swallowed whole with water.
If needed, antacids may be taken along with this medication. If you are also taking sucralfate, take omeprazole at least 30 minutes before sucralfate.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. Continue to take this medication for the prescribed length of treatment even if you are feeling better. If you are self-treating with the over-the-counter product, do not take it for more than 14 days unless directed by your doctor.
Tell your doctor if your condition lasts or gets worse. If you are self-treating, tell your doctor if your heartburn lasts after 14 days or if you need to use this medication more than once every 4 months. The risk of side effects goes up over time. Ask your doctor how long you should take this medication. If you think you may have a serious medical problem, get medical help right away.