Omeprazole Side Effects: Calcium Depletion

Omeprazole, which is sold under the commercial name Prilosec, is a proton pump inhibitor used to suppress the production of stomach acid. This product is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition in which a backward flow of stomach acid causes heartburn and sores in the lining of the esophagus. Other conditions omeprazole may treat include stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Long-term use of omeprazole can cause calcium depletion in the body, according to Food and Drug Administration.

Long-term use of omeprazole may cause osteoporosis (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Omeprazole and Calcium Depletion

People who take omeprazole and other proton pump inhibitors for a year or longer are more likely to develop fractures of the spine, hips and wrists, according to the FDA. Calcium is necessary to help build and maintain healthy bones and strong teeth. Omeprazole causes decreased production of stomach acid. The body requires stomach acid to absorb calcium from foods. Low levels of calcium in the blood leads to calcium depletion from bones.

Age Group at Risk for Calcium Depletion

People over 50 are more likely to suffer from increased fractures after taking omeprazole, according to the FDA. People in this age group are more prone to fractures because of age-related changes in bone density. Older people are also not able to absorb enough calcium from foods due to age-related changes in the stomach. As well, people with osteoporosis and other bone diseases should consult with their doctor before taking over-the-counter omeprazole.

Symptoms of Calcium Depletion

Patients who experience calcium depletion after chronic omeprazole use may notice symptoms such as weakness, lack of energy, loss of appetite and constipation. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, bone pain, increased urination. muscle cramps, twitching, tingling of fingers, muscle spasms, depression, confusion, convulsions, lethargy and abnormal heart rhythms.

Omeprazole Administration

Patients at high risk for bone diseases should be careful when they take omeprazole and other proton pump inhibitors. Omeprazole should not be taken with calcium rich foods. Take omeprazole one hour before meals. Do not take over-the-counter omeprazole for longer than two weeks or use it for more than three 14-day treatments in one year. Patients who continue to experience heartburn symptoms after taking omeprazole for two weeks should consult with a doctor. The doctor may prescribe omeprazole to patients with severe heartburn symptoms. Follow-up tests are necessary for patients taking omeprazole prescriptions so as to monitor calcium depletion.

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