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What is Pantoprazole?

Pantoprazole (common brand name is Protonix®) belongs to a group of medications called proton-pump inhibitors (PPI). Other PPIs include lansoprazole, esomeprazole, and omeprazole.

Unlike antacids, which help neutralize the stomach’s acid, pantoprazole lowers the amount of acid produced in the gastrointestinal region. In other words, the drug inhibits gastric acidity to treat medical conditions, such as:

pantoprazole and alcohol
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) Individuals with this health problem experience a backward flow of acid from the stomach that results in heartburn. The acid reflux may damage the esophagus. Using pantoprazole helps the esophagus heal and prevent more damage to the area. 
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome Individuals develop this condition when tumors appear in the pancreas or upper area of the small intestine. These tumors release the hormone gastrin in large quantities, causing the stomach to make too much acid. Possible problems that arise due to this excess acid include peptic ulcers, diarrhea, and more. 

This drug is available only under prescription due to pantoprazole’s strength and potential side effects (both short and long term). 

A healthcare provider may not prescribe pantoprazole to treat mild, short-term heartburn. Instead, prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) antacid medication or H2 blockers (another type of medication for excess acid) may be more suitable. Pantoprazole, like other PPIs, takes more time to work optimally on acid secretion. 

What are The Side Effects of Pantoprazole?

Short-Term Effects

Individuals who take pantoprazole may experience the following side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating/gas
  • Pain in the joints
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dizziness 

Long-Term Effects

A healthcare professional may prescribe pantoprazole for short-term use because of the potential long-term side effects. It is always best to speak with a medical provider to determine if pantoprazole can be continued. 

The following list describes some of the side effects, which individuals may experience over time:

  • Fractures — The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) determined that the risk of fractures due to PPI use was valid because of evidence provided. In simple terms, low stomach acid levels could lessen calcium absorption in the small intestine, which could contribute to osteoporosis and a higher risk of breaking bones (especially the hip bone). 
  • Pneumonia — According to some studies, individuals who took PPIs were more likely to develop pneumonia than those who did not take the drug. Because PPIs reduce stomach acid (which makes the stomach environment more hospitable for bacteria), more bacteria may be present and could travel up the esophagus and be inhaled into the respiratory system. Bacteria in the lungs could cause pneumonia. 
  • Iron and B12 deficiency — Stomach acid helps draw iron and vitamin B12 from food for easier absorption. Lower stomach acid levels caused by PPIs could have a mild effect on absorption and lead to a possible deficiency of both the mineral and vitamin. 
  • C. difficile infection C. difficile refers to Clostridium difficile, a type of bacteria that affects the large intestine and can cause diarrhea or more severe health problems. While there is no direct cause and effect between PPI use and this type of infection, some experimental evidence has suggested that PPIs could alter conditions in the gut that favor the growth of C. difficile bacteria. 

Individuals should speak to their specialist about eating cranberries while taking this medication. There may be an increased risk of experiencing some side effects. 

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Is Pantoprazole Addictive? 

Long-term use of pantoprazole can lead to dependence. This means that if an individual has taken the drug for a long time, it is not recommendable to go cold turkey (or quit the drug suddenly). 

Doing just that may cause the stomach to produce much more acid and invite the return of symptoms. 

However, in most other short-term use cases, individuals can stop taking the drug without cutting back on the dose first. 

Can You Drink Alcohol With Pantoprazole?

Individuals can drink alcohol (moderate consumption) with pantoprazole, as it does not interfere with how the drug works. 

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that alcoholic beverages can cause the stomach to make more acid than usual. This acid production can irritate the stomach lining and worsen symptoms, like drowsiness.

Additionally, if individuals live with an alcohol use disorder or misuse alcohol, the risks of mixing pantoprazole and the beverage increase. 

It is best to consult medical advice to determine if alcohol consumption could affect how effective the drug is or present health risks. 

Risks of Mixing Pantoprazole and Alcohol

Alcohol use, especially if abused over long periods, can cause different symptoms in individuals. 

For example, individuals may suffer from nutritional deficiency, liver injury or scarring, dehydration, and more. 

Additionally, pantoprazole causes possible side effects and medical conditions such as liver disease, hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood), vitamin B12 deficiency, diarrhea, and more.   

That all said, consuming alcohol in excess worsens the severity of serious side effects associated with pantoprazole, and the risk of overdose and death increases.    

Treatment for Pantoprazole and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

If you or a loved one experience problems with pantoprazole and alcohol use disorder, you can take advantage of the many therapy options available, including:

  • Supervised detoxification or withdrawal process
  • Rehab and support groups 
  • Medical therapy
  • Counseling 
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment has shown great potential in lowering alcohol use among individuals who live with an alcohol use disorder. It could provide the support needed to refrain from drinking alcohol. Also, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions could give individuals the coping skills to help confront triggers or situations that may result in alcohol consumption. 

While recovery can be difficult, it is not impossible. With the right support and care, individuals could lead a more fulfilled, balanced life.

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Resources

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“Pantoprazole (Oral Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Jan. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/pantoprazole-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20071434.

“Pantoprazole.” NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/medicines/pantoprazole/.

“Pantoprazole: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 July 2020, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601246.html.

“Proton-Pump Inhibitors.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publishing, Apr. 2011, www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/proton-pump-inhibitors

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