Omeprazole capsules are a reliable treatment for stomach problems including heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. They ease these recurrent symptoms by suppressing the production of acid in the stomach for a period of up to 72 hours. These capsules are taken daily, and will take effect within one hour.
Stomach acids are necessary for the digestive process. They break down food before it reaches the intestines. Normally, the oesophagus is protected from these acids by a group of muscles called the oesophageal sphincter. These muscles are meant to form a one-way barrier: food can enter the stomach but acids and other substances remain down. However, sometimes, this sphincter weakens under excess pressure. As a result, stomach acid passes this barrier and enters the oesophagus. This is acid reflux. Heartburn is the name for the painful sensation of acid irritating, or burning, the tissues of the oesophagus. It has nothing to do with the heart – it gets its name because the pain is felt at the base of the chest.
Many will experience occasional heartburn. However, some people suffer from these symptoms very frequently – this may be due to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). Omeprazole is a prescription medicine for GORD and other similar stomach conditions. It works by suppressing the activity of proton pumps, the proteins which produce acids in the stomach. This decreases the amount of acid in the stomach, relieving the symptoms of acid reflux. This effect can last for a period of up to 72 hours; your acid levels will return to their previous level three to five days after you stop taking the medication.
GORD is fairly common – it is thought to affect 20% of people. Anyone can suffer from GORD, though it is most common in men over 40. Along with the pain of heartburn, acid reflux can leave a very unpleasant taste if acid reaches the mouth. These symptoms are likely to be much worse if you are lying down horizontally. Consider sleeping on an incline, and avoid lying down after eating.
Obesity is the primary cause of GORD. This is because excess stomach fat puts pressure on organs such as the stomach. This forces stomach acids past the oesophagal sphincter and into the oesophagus. Large meals that fill the stomach have the same effect, so consider eating smaller meals. Along with fatty foods, try to avoid foods that are acidic themselves or spicy. Onions, chocolate, and gluten, as well as carbonated or caffeinated drinks, can also lead to heartburn.
Studies have shown that both alcohol and nicotine can weaken the muscles of the oesophagal sphincter, leading to acid reflux. There are also several medications that interfere with digestion or the oesophagus in a way that might increase your risk of GORD. Talk to your GP about whether your medication might be causing your acid reflux, and if other treatments are available.
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