What is lansoprazole? Facts on its uses, benefits and side effects
What is lansoprazole?
Lansoprazole (lan-SOP-pra-zole) is a medicine that reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes. It is used to treat indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and in combination with certain antibiotics to treat Helicobacter pylori infections. The medicine is also sometimes used to treat a rare illness called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, which is caused by an ulcer in the pancreas or gut.
Lansoprazole is only available on prescription and comes as tablets, capsules or liquid that you can swallow.
- Lansoprazole was originally synthesised at Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda. It was patented in 1984 and the drug was launched in 1991.
- It is also known by the brand name Zoton (among others).
- A massive 24.6 million items of lansoprazole were prescribed by GP surgeries in England in 2017. That’s roughly equivalent to an item for every person in Northern England and the Midlands combined!
How does lansoprazole work?
Lansoprazole belongs to a group of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs stop the secretion of gastric acid by blocking the ‘proton pump’. Proton pumps are found on cells that line the stomach and are used by these cells to produce stomach acid. Omeprazole is another commonly prescribed PPI.
By reducing the amount of acid that the stomach produces, lansoprazole helps to relieve the symptoms of indigestion. It prevents excess acid from flowing back into the oesophagus - relieving the painful heartburn symptoms associated with acid reflux. This allows the oesophagus to heal if it has been damaged by the acid.
But how long does lansoprazole take to work?
This depends on which condition the medicine is treating. If you have heartburn or indigestion you should feel relief straight away (or at least in the first few days of your course). For other conditions, such as a peptic ulcer, it may take weeks to feel the benefits of the treatment.
If you have any concerns about the length and/or effectiveness of your lansoprazole treatment, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Lansoprazole dosage information
According to the NHS, these are the usual doses for certain conditions:
- Indigestion: 15mg to 30mg a day
- Acid reflux disease: 15mg to 30mg a day
- Stomach ulcers: 15mg to 30mg a day
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: 60mg a day, which can increase to 120mg a day depending on how well it works for you.
Doses are usually lower for children, elderly people and people with liver problems.
How to take lansoprazole
Lansoprazole is usually taken once a day, first thing in the morning. If you’ve been told to take lansoprazole twice a day, take one dose in the morning and one dose in the evening.
Lansoprazole is taken orally, and comes in the form of a tablet, orodispersible tablet, capsule or liquid that you can swallow. Do not crush, break or chew the tablets or capsules - take them whole with a glass of water. Liquid lansoprazole comes with a syringe or spoon to help you take the right amount.
Orodispersible tablets should be placed on the tongue, allowed to disperse and swallowed, or swallowed whole with a glass of water. Alternatively, tablets can be dispersed in a small amount of water and administered by an oral syringe or nasogastric tube.
Food slows down lansoprazole getting into your system, so it’s best to take it half an hour before a meal or snack. Using Echo’s reminders helps you to remember when to take lansoprazole every day.
If you feel like the lansoprazole is not having the desired effect, speak to your GP. Do not abandon the course without your doctor’s consent, as this may intensify side effects.
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Lansoprazole side effects
Most people who take lansoprazole won’t experience any side effects. If you do, they will usually be mild and go away once you stop taking the medicine.
Common side effects may happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you any of these side effects persist:
- stomach pain
- feeling sick or vomiting
- itchy skin rashes
- dry mouth
- sore throat
- swelling in the feet or ankles.
Stomach pain is a common side effect of lansoprazole.
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people. Inform a GP straight away if you have:
- joint pain that’s accompanied by a red skin rash - especially in parts of your body exposed to the sun (e.g. your arms, cheeks and nose - these can be signs of a rare condition called subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus that can happen weeks or even years after taking lansoprazole).
- stomach pain that seems to be getting worse - this can be a sign of an inflamed liver or pancreas.
- skin reddening, blisters and peeling of the skin. If you experience these side effects, keep an eye open for severe blisters and bleeding in the lips, eyes, mouth, nose and genitals, as these can be signs of Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis.
- frequent diarrhoea that doesn't seem to be improving - this can indicate ulcerative colitis
Lansoprazole can interact with some common medicines such as itraconazole, methotrexate and digoxin.
If you are taking rilpivirine or atazanavir (types of HIV medication), speak to your specialist about an alternative to lansoprazole.
Herbal remedies such as St John’s wort can reduce the amount of lansoprazole in your blood and make the medicine less effective.
A comprehensive list of lansoprazole interactions can be found on the NICE website. For further advice, ask your GP or pharmacist.
Who can and can’t take lansoprazole?
Lansoprazole can be taken by adults, and sometimes by children when prescribed by a GP.
There are some instances where lansoprazole may not be suitable to take.
Before taking lansoprazole, you should tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to lansoprazole or another medicine in the past
- have liver problem
- are allergic to proton pump inhibitors.
Some types of lansoprazole capsules may contain gelatin, meaning they are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Likewise, some capsules may contain traces of lactose, so tell your GP if you are lactose intolerant prior to taking lansoprazole.
If you are unsure about your own suitability to take lansoprazole, speak to your GP or pharmacist and they will be able to advise you
Taking lansoprazole during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
Lansoprazole is generally not recommended for pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.
Let your GP know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there are similar medicines with a more established profile for women to take in either case.
You should also tell your GP if you have become pregnant while taking lansoprazole. The GP may opt to put you on a different medication.
What’s the easiest way to get lansoprazole?
If you’ve been authorised by your GP to take lansoprazole on repeat prescription, cut out the stress of the last-minute pharmacy run and manage your medication with Echo today.