Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition is characterized by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus that causes heartburn and irritation. Omeprazole is also used to treat stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers and Zollinger-Ellison disorder. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms similar to bacteria found in the human gut. Some people use probiotics to combat the effects of stomach problems such as GERD and ulcers.
Probiotics and Omeprazole
Probiotics cannot be used in place of omeprazole because the two perform different functions in the body. Omeprazole suppresses acid production in the stomach to prevent injury to the walls of the stomach and esophagus while probiotics help prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the body. Probiotic beneficial bacteria also helps protect the stomach from infection and other conditions, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Treatment of Helicobacter Pylori
Probiotics and omeprazole are useful in the eradication of helicobacter pylori, which are bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and also contribute to acid reflux. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises patients with stomach ulcers and acid reflux to daily take lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic supplements containing 5 to 10 billion colon forming units. Probiotic supplements suppress the growth of pylori and also help maintain a balance in the stomach between good and harmful bacteria. Omeprazole is given together with antibiotics to treat helicobacter pylori infection.
Omeprazole is available as delayed-release capsules and granules for suspension that are taken orally. Over-the-counter omeprazole is available as delayed-release tablets. It should be taken one hour before meals. The delayed-release capsules or tablets should be swallowed whole without chewing. OTC omeprazole should be taken for only 14 days. Additional 14-day treatment may be repeated once every four months. Omeprazole should not be used for immediate heartburn relief. It may take up to four days to notice relief of heartburn symptoms.
Probiotics are available in food and dietary supplements. Examples of foods containing probiotics include buttermilk, yogurt, acidophilus milk, fermented milk, miso, soy beverages, tempeh, kefir, kim chi and sauerkraut. Probiotics should not be used by patients with lowered immune systems -- such as in the case of AIDS patients -- because they can cause serious infections, according to National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.