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All You Need to Know About Taking the Purple Pill For GERD, Acid Reflux Or Heartburn - FAQ
Is Nexium or the "purple pill" really safe for my acid reflux? Does it actually do what it claims to do? Are there any better alternatives?
After reading this article, you will be more knowledgeable and gain a deeper insight on the main concerns and questions that patients often ask when taking Nexium for their GERD, acid reflux or heartburn.
What is the main purpose of Nexium and how is it supposed to help?
The generic name of this drug is esomeprazole (pronounced ee so MEP ra zol). belongs to that group of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, with its main purpose of decreasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Its common use is to treat the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and duodenal ulcers (caused by helicobacter pylori or H.pylori), but it's also prescribed for those undergoing NSAID therapy for gastric ulcer prevention and for the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers linked with Crohn's disease.
Doctors often prescribe this drug as well for those with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and healing erosive esophagitis (damage to one's esophagus caused by stomach acid - often a result of continuous reflux attacks for years).
What are the main precautions before I take this drug?
1. Although it is an over the counter (OTC) drug which you can easily get in most drugstores, it is best to get a doctor's recommendation. Especially if you are a pregnant or breast-feeding mother. Be careful that you are not allergic to esomeprazole or to any other benzimidazole medication (albendazole - Albenza, or mebendazole - Vermox).
2. Inform the doctor if you or any member of your family had or has liver disease or low levels of magnesium in your blood.
3. Remember that Nexium is not for immediate relief of heartburn symptoms. A regular antacid is normally enough.
4. This drug might change the effects on some other medication that you are taking and in some cases, should not be used together. Some of these include cilostazol, citalopram, clopidogrel, diazepam, digoxin, dexamethasone, methotrexate, rifampin, tacrolimus, st. john's wort, and voriconazole. Also HIV/AIDS medications such as, but not limited to rilpivirine, saquinavir and etravirine. This list is not complete as other drugs could still interact and cause further problems. And even if these other meds are non-prescribed or consist of vitamins or food supplements, you still need your doctor's advice.
5. If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, and ages 50 and above, tell your physician as taking proton pump inhibitors may increase one's risk of bone fracture specifically in the hip, wrist or spine. This effect occurs mostly to those who take it long-term or at high doses.
What are the complications or side effects that I should be well aware of?
Less serious side effects include mild diarrhea, nausea, gas, stomach pain, constipation, drowsiness or dry mouth.
Stop using this drug and call your doctor if you experience symptoms of low magnesium such as dizziness and confusion, jerking muscle movements, fast or uneven heart rate, feeling jittery, muscle cramps or weakness (limp feeling), cough or choking feeling, seizure (convulsions), or diarrhea that is bloody or watery. Diarrhea can also be a sign of a new infection but do not take anti-diarrhea medicine unless you have a go signal from your physician.
Get emergency help if you encounter signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of one's face, lips, tongue or throat, and difficulty breathing.
Is there an overdose to this?
Definitely, just like all drugs do. Use only the recommended dosage and if you think you had an overdose, seek emergency attention immediately. Overdose symptoms include headache, drowsiness, confusion, fast heartbeat, blurred vision, dry mouth, sweating, flushing, tremor, shortness of breath, seizure (convulsions) or loss of coordination. Never take a double dose at a time unless prescribed.
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Community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public. They supply medicines in accordance with a prescription or, when legally permitted, sell them without a prescription. In addition to ensuring an accurate supply of appropriate products, their professional activities also cover counselling of patients at the time of dispensing of prescription and non-prescription drugs, drug information to health professionals, patients and the general public, and participation in health-promotion programmes. They maintain links with other health professionals in primary health care.