I suffer from severe gastroesophogeal reflux disease, or GERD. Although I’ve learned to keep my condition fairly well controlled using a combination of home remedies and naturopathic treatments, I often have to resort to treatment with the drug omeprazole (Prilosec) when these measures prove insufficient. My doctor recommends that I take this medication regularly to prevent further narrowing of my esophagus and respiratory complications of the condition. I’ll gladly take omeprazole when necessary, since it is a safe medication associated with few serious side effects. However, omeprazole users like me need to be aware of some of the more rare side effects of this very common medication.
According to the National Institutes of Health, omeprazole can cause rare but serious side effects in a few sensitive individuals. If you experience any of these rare side effects after taking omeprazole, it’s critical that you discontinue your use of the medicine and seek prompt medical help.
Skin reactions including hives, itching, and rashes are a rare side effect of omeprazole. Although they are not serious in and of themselves, they are a sign of systemic allergic reaction to the drug. If you have just started using omeprazole and you’re experiencing unexplained rashes or itchiness, tell your doctor immediately.
Very rarely, omeprazole can cause users to feel weak, light-headed, and dizzy. Alone, these symptoms may not be cause for serious concern. However, when severe or accompanied by other symptoms, these rare side effects might be a sign of a serious reaction. Vision problems and unusual tiredness may also be present. Talk to your doctor if you feel “woozy” after taking any new medication; she can evaluate your condition to determine whether it’s safe for you to continue using the drug.
Some people experience difficulty breathing after using omeprazole. This is a rare sign of a serious allergic reaction. You may find that you develop hoarseness, pain while breathing, or tightness in the chest after taking omeprazole. Contact your doctor immediately or call 911 if you experience these symptoms, since they are a sign of a serious reaction.
Serious, rare side effects of omeprazole sometimes include swelling. This may affect the throat, face, eyelids, tongue, or lips– possibly causing, or accompanying, breathing difficulties. Omeprazole can also cause swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles. Occasionally, people experiencing severe reactions to omeprazole will experience sudden weight gain and reduced urine production, leading to swelling all over the body.
Mild digestive upsets are a common side effect of omeprazole, but serious adverse reactions are rare. It is very uncommon for patients to suffer from serious digestive side effects, such as persistent diarrhea, bloody stool, and intense abdominal pain. However, these side effects can become very serious if left untreated, so it’s important to seek prompt medical attention if you are displaying these signs.
People experiencing serious adverse reactions to omeprazole might develop neurological symptoms like uncontrollable shaking, twitching, and muscle spasms. Even more rarely, some patients may experience seizures. These can range in severity from mild “absence” seizures to full grand mal seizures. In any case, these serious side effects must be reported and addressed quickly to prevent long-term damage.
Omeprazole is essentially a safe medication, and it is effective in the treatment and management of GERD. For this reason, it is one of the most widely prescribed and recommended treatments for reflux disease. Nevertheless, patients should be wary of the potential rare side effects that the drug may cause. If you have concerns about the safety of omeprazole or any other prescription medication, get in touch with your health care provider for a consultation and risk-benefit analysis.