Is Omeprazole bad for you? Find out if there are adverse effects

Omeprazole does not hurt. The continued use of proton pump inhibiting drugs (therapeutic class of which omeprazole is a part) is relatively safe. However, it requires detailed monitoring by qualified professionals such as doctors and pharmacists.

The need for these drugs must be carefully evaluated, as well as the time of use indicated for each pathology.

However, much is said about the risks of using these drugs.

This came about because a study by a group of Hong Kong researchers raised a controversy related to the use of proton pump inhibitors and the increased risk of stomach cancer .

In the group studied, there was a 2.4-fold increase in the risk of developing stomach cancer.

However, several bodies related to gastroenterology worldwide classified the research as inconclusive. Mainly, for not having a broad profile of patients, but for a specific group from a single location.

So, the study may not reflect, for example, the profile of Brazilian patients and their relationship with gastric cancer.

Omeprazole, like other proton pump inhibitors, is of great importance in the treatment of gastroesophageal diseases. The most common are gastritis , gastroesophageal reflux, peptic ulcers, and more rare diseases related to hypersecretion such as Zollinger Ellison syndrome and also in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori .

What is Omeprazole for?

Omeprazole was the first proton pump inhibitor, launched in the late 1980s, in Europe, and the first to be used in clinical practice. Thus, it brought a new perspective for the treatment of gastric disorders related to acidity. Showing itself superior to the drugs used for this purpose before its launch.

The drug acts directly in decreasing gastric juice in the stomach. For this reason, it is used in the improvement of gastric diseases, by decreasing the acidity of stomach juice, in addition to healing gastric ulcers.

It works by effectively blocking the release of acid made by cells located in the stomach wall.

In general, it should be taken in the morning. Doses range from 20mg to 80mg per day, depending on medical advice. Its action begins approximately thirty minutes after ingestion.

The treatment usually lasts a few weeks, or months, until an improvement in the patient’s condition is noticed. In more specific cases, the gastroenterologist may recommend that this medication be used continuously.

What are the side effects of the medication?

Proton pump inhibitors are well tolerated and, in general, their side effects are rare. However, prolonged use can favor the appearance of unwanted effects. Between 1% and 10% of patients using it are reported. Reactions can appear in several ways.

Among the most common we can mention headaches, diarrhea , abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, skin rash, constipation and back pain.

Other more rare reactions can be found in the literature, but they only appear in less than 1% of patients. The unwanted reactions cease as soon as the drug is stopped.

The indiscriminate use, without prescription, beyond the time prescribed or associated with other medications can cause more intense adverse symptoms. it is a recurring problem associated with proton pump inhibitors.

For the liver

Omeprazole, as well as other medications must pass through the liver to be eliminated from the body in a timely manner, without causing harm to the patient. When you have some type of liver impairment, this process can be slower.

As a result, medications can stay in the bloodstream for longer than necessary, accumulating in the body. This can cause different levels of toxicity.

Omeprazole should be used with discretion in these cases, it is important to inform the doctor about pre-existing liver diseases.

The increase in liver enzymes is an adverse effect of omeprazole, reported among less than 1% of patients who used the drug.

For the kidneys

Although there is a lot of research related to the damage that proton pump inhibitors can cause in the kidneys, there is no definitive conclusion on the subject. It is known that the indiscriminate use of the medicine, as well as any other, can expose the patient to side effects of the medicine.

The organ is responsible for filtering the blood and eliminating unwanted or toxic substances through the urine. Despite being responsible for cleaning the body, contact with some substances can cause unwanted effects on the kidney itself.

Recent publications report the correlation of proton pump inhibitors and some kidney diseases, such as acute interstitial nephritis (NIA) and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The NIA starts with small kidney lesions, which can progress to the formation of scars, decreasing kidney function. She has symptoms such as weakness, malaise, body aches, fever and rashes.

When detected, the use of the drug should be discontinued and corticosteroid treatment should be carried out, which can stabilize the disease, without impairing renal function. In the most severe cases, it can progress to chronic kidney disease, requiring special monitoring.

To the heart

In 2015, a group of researchers led by Professor Nicholas Leeper of Stanford University published a study in which clinical data from more than 2.9 million patients were analyzed, correlating the use of proton pump inhibitors and the risk of suffer a heart attack.

Other previously published studies showed a link to the risk of cardiovascular events in patients who combined clopidogrel (a substance that prevents thrombus formation) and proton pump inhibitors.

For some time, using these two drugs together was strongly contraindicated. However, more recent studies have not reaffirmed this correlation.

Patients who use omeprazole and other medications concomitantly should always consult their doctor and follow up with a pharmacist.

How to replace the use of Omeprazole?

In terms of drugs, proton pump inhibitors are the most used for gastric problems and there are few alternatives of different classes capable of treating the same diseases.

Only your doctor is able to assess the possibility of replacing omeprazole with another class of medicines.

Antacids can be used as an alternative to treat heartburn symptoms , but are only recommended for sporadic use.

For patients with gastritis, reflux and even gastric ulcers, a change in lifestyle is critical. Thus, some important measures include:

  • Reduce foods such as junk foods and processed foods;
  • Reduce industrialized drinks rich in sugars;
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages;
  • Maintain healthy eating habits.

Always avoid self-medication and never take any medication without guidance. Only qualified professionals, such as doctors and pharmacists, are able to assist in the safe choice of medicines.


Omeprazole is a medication widely used to treat changes related to the stomach, such as ulcers and gastritis.

Many people have doubts about the safety of the medication, mainly because the treatment tends to be continuous or prolonged. However, whenever there is medical guidance and follow-up, the use is safe.

In case of doubt, you need to talk to the doctor. All symptoms and changes after starting treatment should be reported at the consultation.

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