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What Is Esomeprazole Magnesium?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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Esomeprazole magnesium is a proton pump inhibitor medication, which reduces acid levels in the stomach and treats conditions like gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers, Zollinger-Ellis syndrome, and GI reflux disease. This formulation of the drug is only one type of esomeprazole and is available in just a few countries. All forms of this acid reducer have similar warnings, medical condition and drug interactions, and benign and serious side effects.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) stop certain enzymes in the GI tract from producing acid. They are different from faster-acting acid blockers called H2 inhibitors, which work within an hour or two of administration. In contrast, PPIs take longer to work, usually at least a couple of days. When they start to produce benefits, they are typically stronger than H2 inhibitors and only require a dose once or twice a day. Nevertheless, the way PPIs work means they aren’t intended for occasional use.

As mentioned, esomeprazole magnesium is only one of the available preparations of this PPI, and it isn’t obtainable in that many regions. Other types of this drug include esomeprazole sodium, which is often used for intravenous delivery. Alternately, the medication may simply be sold as esomeprazole or under a variety of trade names. Each preparation is relatively equal in effectiveness and action.

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Important warnings now accompany this drug. It can lower magnesium levels significantly, which can cause seizures, dangerous changes in heart rhythm, and muscle spasms. This adverse effect tends to occur only with prolonged use of a year or more, but it’s now recommended that patients taking esomeprazole magnesium have a regular evaluation of magnesium blood levels.

Using esomeprazole magnesium is contraindicated in those with certain medical conditions or in patients of certain ages. The medication hasn’t been determined safe for children or for pregnant and nursing patients. There is evidence that people over the age of 50, especially those with osteoporosis, may be at higher risk for fractures if they use this drug. Also, patients with liver disease require adjustments to dosage.

Esomeprazole magnesium has many drug interactions, too, which may either contraindicate its use or necessitate an adjustment in dose. Some known interactions occur with tranquilizers like diazepam, heart medications such as digoxin and warfarin, and certain antibiotics. Patients should thoroughly review with a doctor all medications they use prior to accepting prescriptions for new drugs to avoid complications.

The side effects of esomeprazole magnesium could be benign or serious. Less severe reactions include a variety of abdominal symptoms like gas, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Some patients also have headaches or experience dry mouth. Many of these symptoms recede with time, but if they remain and are bothersome, patients should consult their doctors.

In other instances, side effects warrant immediate medical attention. Patients should get help right away if they experience extreme allergy with hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, and tongue. Other serious side effects are any form of rash or peeling skin, and swelling of the legs, ankles, or wrists.

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