Every second German knows the painful feeling that comes with heartburn (reflux disease), when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. Here, the active ingredient pantoprazole can remedy this, as it causes a reduction in acid production in the stomach. Therefore, pantoprazole is also used in ulcers in the stomach and duodenum and in a pathological overproduction of gastric acid, the so-called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. As with other medicines, taking pantoprazole is associated with side effects.
This is how Pantoprazole works
Pantoprazole belongs to the group of proton pump inhibitors, which also include the active substances esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole and rabeprazole. Proton pump inhibitors reduce gastric acid production.
Chemically, gastric acid is hydrochloric acid, which is composed of positively charged hydrogen protons and negatively charged chloride ions. However, only the hydrogen protons are important for the acidic properties of the gastric juice. As the name implies, the proton pump inhibitors hinder the work of the proton pumps and thus ensure that fewer protons get into the stomach. As a result, the concentration of stomach acid decreases and the pH in the stomach increases.
Compared to the other proton pump inhibitors, pantoprazole is characterized by rapid onset of action and long-term efficacy. Because of its rapid action, pantoprazole can also be used spontaneously for heartburn on the appearance of the symptoms.
Treat with pantoprazole ulcers
However, pantoprazole is not only effective for heartburn, but also helps patients suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers. In the affected areas, the mucous membrane is often severely damaged by stomach acid. Because of this, the tissue layers lying under the mucosa are open and usually also damaged. Pantoprazole accelerates the healing of ulcers by eliminating the cause of the injury, the stomach acid. It also helps to relieve cramping pain that occurs especially when the digestive tract is active.
Proton pump inhibitors such as pantoprazole are also used when taking medications that may cause gastrointestinal damage. In such cases, pantoprazole can prevent the development of ulcers or heal ulcers that have already developed.
The trigger of ulcers is often the bacterium Heliobacter pylori, which is present in over 80% of all patients who suffer from an ulcer. To combat this germ, pantoprazole is often taken with antibiotics. This treatment method is called eradication therapy.
Dosage of pantoprazole
This must be taken into account when dosing pantoprazole:
- In acute conditions, a dose of 40 milligrams of pantoprazole can be taken over a longer period of time.
- If it is only used preventively, on the other hand, a dose of 20 milligrams is sufficient. Pantoprazole is used as a preventive measure to prevent inflammation in the stomach, duodenum and esophagus.
- From a dose of 80 milligrams, pantoprazole should be taken twice a day.
Low-dose drugs with the active ingredient pantoprazole are now available without prescription in the pharmacy. Generally, however, that the dosage of pantoprazole should always be coordinated with the attending physician.
Side effects of pantoprazole
As with other medicines, pantoprazole may also be associated with side effects. In general, pantoprazole is considered to be well tolerated.
These side effects may occur when you take pantoprazole:
- The most common side effects include headache as well as constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
- Occasionally you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness and allergic skin reactions.
- The more rare side effects of pantoprazole include joint pain, dry mouth, and nephritis.
However, especially the kidney inflammation should be given special attention. This side effect is particularly treacherous, as its symptoms are similar to those that have led to the use of pantoprazole. If nausea and vomiting continue to occur during treatment, it is important to consider nephritis as a possible cause. Because only if the intake of pantoprazole is stopped in time and the kidneys are subsequently treated, permanent damage to the kidneys can be avoided.
Very rarely, pantoprazole may cause other serious side effects such as liver damage or severe skin reactions. For a detailed list of the side effects of pantoprazole, please refer to the package leaflet.
So far, few interactions of pantoprazole with other drugs have been found. By taking pantoprazole, the acidity in the stomach changes. This may affect the uptake of certain active substances into the bloodstream. These drugs include, for example, the AIDS drug atazanavir and the active ingredients ketoconazole and itraconazole, which are used in fungal diseases.
Interaction with pantoprazole may also be associated with blood coagulation medicines: For example, when taking anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin, ensure that blood clotting is regularly monitored by a physician. Likewise, pantoprazole interferes with the effectiveness of the blood thinner clopidogrel, as does all other proton pump inhibitors. Therefore, these two drugs should preferably not be taken together.
Pantoprazole: Contraindications and Precautions
As with other medicines, pantoprazole must not be taken in cases of hypersensitivity to the drug. Patients who have severely impaired liver function require regular monitoring of liver enzyme levels. If the attending physician detects an increase in the values, treatment with pantoprazole must be discontinued.
The effects of taking Pantoprazole during pregnancy and lactation have so far been poorly understood. In an animal experiment, however, it was found that a high pantoprazole dosage can cause damage to the unborn child. Therefore, the drug should only be used in urgent cases. Even in children, the drug should not be used if possible, because even here, not enough knowledge about possible side effects.
In general, when taking pantoprazole, it should be noted that the active ingredient may obscure the symptoms of stomach cancer. Therefore, this diagnosis must first be ruled out by a physician before therapy with pantoprazole can begin. When taking a long-term dose, it should also be remembered that the decreased acidity of the gastric juice can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.