What is Losec?
Losec is the branded version of Omeprazole. Omeprazole is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the UK. It is used for the treatment of acid reflux. Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid entering the oesophagus (the food pipe). The oesophagus is not designed for contact with acid, so this can cause irritation and damage to the tissues of the oesophagus producing painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn. Losec works by blocking part of the mechanism needed for the production of stomach acid, this reduces the amount of acid produced. In this way, Losec effectively decreases the chance of acid reflux.
Can you buy Losec over the counter in the UK?
Losec is not available over the counter in the UK, it is only available on prescription. However, 20mg tablets of Omeprazole are available over the counter. If you want Losec specifically or a higher dose of Omeprazole, you will need to obtain a prescription. It is recommended that you try over the counter treatments before seeking prescription medication.
Losec is a type of PPI. Other PPIs are also available on prescription including:
Esomeprazole is also available over the counter in 20mg tablets.
H2 antagonists are available on prescription for the treatment of acid reflux, but Ranitidine is now available at low-doses (75mg) over the counter.
More common over the counter acid reflux treatments include antacids, such as Rennies, and alginates, such as Gaviscon. Antacids work by neutralising the stomach acid, whereas alginates form a gel-like layer on top of the stomach acid, which helps to protect the oesophagus.
A range of herbal treatments and alternative medicines may claim to alleviate acid reflux, but these substances do not have the same evidence-base as conventional medicine, so should be used with caution. It is recommended that you use conventional medicine where possible. If you are concerned about side effects, you can speak to your pharmacist or doctor who may be able to recommend some alternatives.
It is recommended that everyone with acid reflux considers making lifestyle changes. Acid reflux may seem like a mild condition that only causes a bit of discomfort. However, the damage to your oesophagus makes you much more likely to suffer from oesophageal cancer. Medications can help to protect against this, but often the underlying cause of your acid reflux can be resolved (at least partially) through lifestyle changes, further reducing your risk. Making the following changes may help to resolve or reduce your acid reflux:
- Avoid eating late at night or lying down soon after eating – after a meal, the muscle that closes the top of your stomach may be more relaxed, and lying down allows stomach acid to leak out.
- Avoid eating large meals – large meals increase the pressure inside your stomach, which can push stomach acid upwards towards the oesophagus
- Stop smoking, or reduce the amount you smoke – smoking causes the muscle that seals the top of your stomach to relax, meaning that stomach acid is able to escape
- Lose weight – carrying excess body fat – particularly around the abdomen, increases the pressure inside your abdominal cavity. This encourages stomach acid to move upwards into the oesophagus.
- Avoid alcohol or reduce alcohol intake – like smoking, alcohol also causes the sealing muscle at the top of your stomach to relax, making acid reflux much more likely.
Making these changes may help to reduce your acid reflux and your need for medications.