Since its introduction in 1980, omeprazole – known commercially as Prilosec among other brand names – has been widely used to treat heartburn, also known as, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and erosive esophagitis.
Omeprazole is generally well tolerated, with the most common side effects being headache, dizziness and diarrhea.
But studies conducted by specialists at the National Open University of Mexico show that long-term consumption of omeprazole has some adverse effects.
How does omeprazole act in our body?
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that acts by decreasing the production of gastric acid in the stomach. This acid helps digest food, but it also irritates the lining of the esophagus when it comes into contact with it. Omeprazole inhibits this acid production, which decreases irritation of the esophagus and allows you to eat more comfortably.
Despite its widespread usage, researchers say that prolonged use of omeprazole has been linked to several diseases, such as osteoporosis, hypomagnesemia (low blood magnesium levels), gastrointestinal bleeding and liver damage. All of these conditions can have serious consequences for overall health.
According to experts, long-term use of omeprazole can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency, which in turn can lead to anemia (a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells) in some cases.
Although the use of omeprazole has several advantages, such as reduced acid secretion in the stomach and rapid healing of ulcers, it should not be taken for a prolonged period of time without first consulting a doctor, as it can cause serious side effects, such as kidney problems or bone fractures, if taken for a long time without proper guidance from medical professionals.
Use with caution
To avoid any adverse effects on the body, it is important that the doctor who prescribes omeprazole takes into account what he intends to achieve in the patient, i.e. that he knows how long the treatment will last and that the patient also understands this so that he adheres to the treatment for as long as needed.