Anti-ulcer drugs are medicines used to treat ulcers in the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine. Ulcers are sores or raw areas that form in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum (the upper part of the intestine). Those that form in the stomach are called gastric ulcers; and the ones that form in the duodenum are called duodenal ulcers. However, both are referred to as peptic ulcers.
As against the thought, ulcer is not the result of stress and certain foods. It is either due to the infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or by long-term use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. In either case, something damages the barrier of mucus that normally protects the stomach and duodenum from the powerful acids and enzymes that the body produces to digest food. When that happens, the acids and enzymes begin to eat away unprotected tissue, causing ulcers.
Anti-ulcer medications do not show immediate results, it takes time to relieve pain. Be patient and keep taking the medicine as directed, even if it does not seem to be working at first. Anatacids may also be used to relieve pains, however, check with your physician before taking them. If antacids and Anti-ulcer drugs are taken together, allow half an hour to an hour between taking the antacid and taking the Anti-ulcer drug.
Smoking cigarettes may slow the healing of ulcers and make them more likely to develop again after treatment. Ideally, avoid smoking completely while taking antiulcer drugs or at least, avoid smoking after taking the last dose of the day.
Anti-ulcer drugs may affect the results of certain medical tests. Let your physician know before having any skin tests or acid tests of stomach. Long-term use of the antiulcer drugs like omeprazole (Prilosec) can cause severe stomach inflammation.
The most common side effects are dizziness, drowsiness, gas, headache, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal or stomach pain, and inflammation of the nose. These problems usually go away as the body adjusts to the drug and do not require medical treatment. Less common side effects, such as blurred or dimmed vision, constipation, itching, rash, sleeplessness, abnormal dreams, breast swelling or tenderness and backache also may occur and do not need medical attention unless they do not go away or they interfere with normal activities.
More serious side effects are not common, but if occur may include:
- Fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Sore throat
- Tightness in chest
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
Other rare side effects may occur. Anyone who has unusual symptoms after taking antiulcer drugs should get in touch with his/her physician.
Anti-ulcer drugs may interact with a variety of other medicines. When this happens, the effects of one or both of the drugs may change or the risk of side effects may be greater. The drugs that may interact with certain antiulcer drugs are:
- Antacids such as Mylanta and Maalox
- Blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin)
- Other Anti-ulcer drugs
The list above does not include all the drugs that may interact with Anti-ulcer drugs. One has to be make sure to check with a physician or pharmacist before combining Anti-ulcer drugs with any other medicine.