What is Prilosec?

Prilosec is a best-selling medication used to treat heartburn and other esophagus and acid-related problems affecting the stomach. An over-the-counter drug, Prilosec was first launched in 1990 for relieving symptoms from ulcers, gastric reflux disease and esophagitis. The drug is also effective in helping to heal a damaged esophagus from stomach acid, a condition known as esophagitis.

How Acid Problems Occur

There are millions of tiny pumps that line your stomach. Whenever you eat, they produce acid that breaks down food. Under normal conditions the apparatus known as the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, serves as a door that opens and closes, allowing food from the esophagus and then into the stomach. However, when the LES isn't functioning properly or relaxing, too much acid flows into the esophagus. When this happens, the acid can "reflux," which creates painful heartburn symptoms.

Protein Pump Inhibitors

Prilosec works as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). A collection of drugs designed to lower the production of gastric acids, PPIs are known for their effectiveness, safety and for being the most powerful restrainers of acid secretion on the market. Capable of transporting protons over a cell's membrane, as well as mitochondrions or other subcell sections, PPIs are vital drugs.

How Prilosec Works

Even before the stomach pumps start producing acid, Prilosec starts to directly block them. When active pumps are reduced, the stomach can make enough acid for breaking down food, while preventing a surplus of acid causing heartburn pain. Prilosec contains omeprazole, which is an active ingredient designed to stop producing acid by blocking the enzymes in the stomach walls that make acid. This stops gastric cells from discharging hydrochloric acid, which lessens the acidity of the stomach cavity. When the acid declines, the stomach and esophagus can heal.

Prilosec's Delayed-Release Function

Prilosec doesn't work immediately, as it can take from one to four days before it's entirely effective. On the other hand, some people find total relief of heartburn symptoms within 24 hours. The drug shouldn't be taken for longer than two weeks out of a four-month period. If you notice returning symptoms soon after ending treatment or during the four-month time frame, consult your doctor or health care provider.