Ulcer-healing Drugs

Drugs that reduce the secretion of acid by the stomach, helping peptic ulcers to heal

Common drugs

    Proton pump inhibitors

  • Lansoprazole

  • Omeprazole

  • Pantoprazole

  • Rabeprazole

    H2-receptor antagonists

  • Cimetidine

  • Famotidine

  • Nizatidine

  • Ranitidine

    Other drugs

  • Bismuth

  • Misoprostol

  • Sucralfate

Ulcer-healing drugs are used to treat peptic ulcers, which are eroded areas in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. One group of these drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, is used in combination with two antibiotics to heal ulcers that are caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (see Helicobacter pylori infection). Ulcer-healing drugs may also be given without antibiotics to treat peptic ulcers and other digestive disorders that are not due to H. pylori, such as nonulcer dyspepsia and gastro-oesphageal reflux disease.

What are the types?

The two main groups of ulcer-healing drugs are proton pump inhibitors and H2-receptor antagonists. Both of these types of drugs work by reducing production of acid in the stomach, although proton pump inhibitors do so more effectively than H2-receptor antagonists. Other drugs used to treat ulcers include misoprostol, sucralfate, and bismuth, which work by protecting the stomach lining from stomach acids. Ulcer-healing drugs are usually taken orally.

Proton pump inhibitors

Drugs in this group may be given as a 4–8 week course, although some people may need to take them for longer periods. Proton pump inhibitors are usually used to reduce stomach acid. Omeprazole is available over the counter for the short-term relief of heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors may also be given with a 1- or 2-week course of antibiotics as part of the treatment for ulcers caused by H. pylori. The drugs do not usually cause serious side effects, but you may have headaches, constipation, diarrhoea, or other side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, rashes, and muscle aches.

H2-receptor antagonists

These drugs are usually given as an initial course of 4–6 weeks to reduce stomach acid. You may then have to continue taking a lower dose to prevent ulcers from recurring. Some of these drugs can be bought over the counter for the short-term relief of heartburn and indigestion. Side effects are rare, but you may experience dizziness, tiredness, and rashes. In elderly people, the drugs can cause confusion.

Other drugs

Your doctor may prescribe misoprostol if you need to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, long term. These drugs may cause peptic ulcers if taken for a long time, and misoprostol can help prevent ulceration by protecting the stomach lining. It can cause diarrhoea, which may be severe; other side effects may include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and flatulence. Do not take misoprostol if you are or may be pregnant; it can cause uterine contractions and may cause fetal abnormalities. Sucralfate coats the ulcer, providing a barrier against stomach acid. This drug can cause side effects such as constipation, indigestion, diarrhoea, nausea, and dizziness.

Bismuth seems to combat bacteria and protect ulcers from stomach acids. Side effects include a darkened tongue, black faeces, nausea, and vomiting.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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