Esomeprazole reduces acid in your stomach. It's used to treat indigestion, heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
It can also prevent and treat stomach ulcers.
Esomeprazole comes as capsules, tablets, granules and a liquid.
You need a prescription for full strength esomeprazole. A lower strength version is available at pharmacies.
Brand names include:
- Nexium Control
Esomeprazole also comes in a mixed tablet with naproxen. Naproxen reduces pain in joints and muscles. The brand name for this is Vimovo. It is only available on prescription.
How esomeprazole works
Esomeprazole is a 'proton pump inhibitor'.
Proton pumps are tiny substances that make acid to digest food. Esomeprazole temporarily stops these pumps working.
Get emergency help
You might need medical help if you get serious side effects, have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or take too much.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare.
Emergency action required: Phone your GP straight away if you have:
- joint pain
- a rash on parts of your body exposed to the sun
- skin that's red, blistering or peeling
- yellow skin, dark pee and tiredness
- lose a lot of weight without trying
- dark pee or poo
- severe or constant diarrhoea
Serious allergic reaction
A serious allergic reaction after taking esomeprazole is rare.
Emergency action required: Call 112 or 999 or go to an emergency department (ED) if you:
- get a rash that's itchy, red, swollen or blistered
- are wheezing
- get tightness in your chest or throat
- have trouble breathing or talking
- have swelling in your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat
If you take too much
Urgent advice: Call your GP if you have taken too much and have any of these symptoms:
- flushed skin
- feeling sweaty
- a fast heartbeat
- feeling sleepy
- blurred vision
- feeling confused or agitated
When you start taking esomeprazole
You should start to feel better within 2 to 3 days.
It may take up to 4 weeks for esomeprazole to work properly. You may still have symptoms during this time.
The dose of your medicine depends on your condition. Your GP may increase or decrease your dose.
You might only take esomeprazole for a few weeks or months. But it will depend on your illness. You may need to take it for longer, even for many years.
You can get lower strength esomeprazole from a pharmacy. If you don't get any relief from heartburn and acid reflux symptoms after 2 weeks, talk to your GP.
Check if you can take esomeprazole
Esomeprazole can be taken by most adults. Children should only take it on prescription.
It may not be suitable if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to other medicines
- have liver problems
- have a glucose, sucrose or lactose intolerance
- are taking a medicine containing nelfinavir, for HIV infection
Esomeprazole isn't recommended during pregnancy as there's no firm evidence it's safe.
If you're pregnant it's better to treat your symptoms without taking a medicine.
Your GP or midwife may suggest eating smaller meals and avoiding fatty and spicy food. They may also suggest raising an end of your bed so that your chest and head are above your waist.
Your GP may recommend a different medicine if you are pregnant.
You should not take esomeprazole if you are breastfeeding.
Esomeprazole may pass into breast milk, but we don't know for sure.
Your GP may recommend a different medicine if you are breastfeeding.
Contraception and fertility
Esomeprazole doesn't affect any type of regular contraception including the combined pill.
It may reduce the effectiveness of one type of emergency contraception called ellaOne (ulipristal).
There is no reason to believe esomeprazole reduces fertility.
How and when to take it
Always take esomeprazole exactly as your GP has told you. It's usual to take it once a day in the morning.
You can take it with or without food.
If you take esomeprazole twice a day, take 1 dose in the morning and 1 dose in the evening.
Swallow tablets whole with a drink of water.
If you have problems swallowing tablets, you can put them in a glass of water. Stir until the tablet breaks up and drink straight away.
If your child is under 12, their GP will prescribe granules which come in sachets. Mix granules with some water and drink straight away.
If you forget to take it
If you take esomeprazole once a day, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do this unless it's less than 12 hours until your next dose. In that case skip the missed dose.
If you take it twice a day, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it's less than 4 hours until your next dose. In that case skip the missed dose.
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
Side effects of esomeprazole
Most people who take esomeprazole do not have any side effects.
If you do they are usually mild and go away when you stop taking it.
Talk to your GP or pharmacist if they get worse or do not go away after a few days.
Common side effects can include:
- feeling sick or vomiting
- stomach pain or wind
Read the patient information leaflet that came with your medicine for a full list of side effects.
Non-urgent advice: Find your patient information leaflet
Your patient information leaflet is the leaflet that comes with your medicine. You can find a digital version of the leaflet online.
Report side effects
You can report any suspected side effects to the the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA): report an issue - hrpa.ie
Levels of magnesium in your blood may fall if you take esomeprazole longer than 3 months.
This can make you feel tired, confused and dizzy. It can also cause muscle twitches and an irregular heartbeat.
Taking esomeprazole for more than 1 year can increase your chances of certain side effects, including:
- bone fractures, especially if you osteoporosis
- gut infections
- vitamin B12 deficiency
If you've taken esomeprazole for a long time speak to your GP before you stop.
Taking esomeprazole with other medications
Tell your GP or pharmacist if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines before you take esomeprazole.
Always tell your GP or pharmacist that you are on esomeprazole before taking new medicines.
Tell your GP if you're taking these medicines, or any other medicine:
- digoxin (a heart medicine)
- cilostazol (used to treat painful legs caused by poor circulation)
- anti-fungal medicines such as itraconazole, ketoconazole or posaconazole
- methotrexate (for cancer and conditions like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- HIV medicines
- phenytoin (for epilepsy)
- rifampicin (an antibiotic)
- blood thinners such as clopidogrel or warfarin
- antidepressants such as citalopram, escitalopram, clomipramine or imipramine
- tacrolimus (for eczema or to prevent organ rejection after a transplant)
- other medicines that reduce the amount of acid in your stomach
- medicines that reduce your immune system
- any medicines for cancer
For a full list of medicines to avoid mixing see the leaflet inside your esomeprazole packet.
Herbal remedies or supplements
St. John's Wort may stop esomeprazole working as well as it should.
Tell your pharmacist or GP if you're taking herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
Other heartburn medicines
You can take esomeprazole with an antacid, for example Gaviscon.
Take it 2 hours before or after your dose of esomeprazole.
It's safe to take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen at the same time as esomeprazole.
Talk to your GP or pharmacist or before using ibuprofen as it can upset your stomach.
Food and drink
Avoid foods that make your indigestion worse, such as spicy and fatty foods.
You should also try to limit acidic foods, caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
If you have symptoms at night, try not to eat for at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
This content was fact checked by a pharmacist, a GP, the National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).