Sucralfate for ulcers - Antepsin

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Sucralfate protects the lining of your stomach and upper intestines from acid attack.

A course of treatment usually lasts for 4-6 weeks.

Do not take sucralfate at the same time as other medicines.

The most common side-effect is constipation.

Type of medicine An ulcer-healing medicine which protects against stomach acid
Used for Ulcers in the stomach or upper intestine, and also gastritis
Also called Antepsin®
Available as Tablets and oral liquid medicine

Your stomach normally produces acid to help with the digestion of food and to kill bacteria. This acid could cause damage to body tissues, so some cells on the inside lining of your digestive system produce a natural barrier to protect the lining of your stomach and the upper part of your intestines (duodenum) from the acid. There is normally a balance between the amount of acid that you make and the mucous defence barrier. If there is an alteration in this balance, the stomach lining can become inflamed (called gastritis) or an ulcer may develop. Sucralfate works by forming a protective barrier over the lining of your stomach and duodenum. This prevents further damage, helps to relieve pain, and allows the area to repair itself.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking sucralfate it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding (although sucralfate is not known to be harmful to an unborn baby or during breast-feeding).
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you are taking other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about sucralfate and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take sucralfate exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to take either two tablets/10 ml twice-daily (taken first thing in the morning and at bedtime), or one tablet/5 ml four times daily (taken one hour before meals and at bedtime). Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you which is right for you and your dose will also be printed on the label of the pack to remind you.
  • If you have difficulty swallowing the tablets, they can be crushed and stirred into a small glass of water to make taking your doses easier. Alternatively, ask your doctor about prescribing the liquid medicine for you to take.
  • Your treatment with sucralfate is likely to last for around 4-6 weeks, although for some people it may be needed for up to 12 weeks.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Sucralfate may prevent other medicines from working properly, so if you buy any 'over-the-counter' medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. If you are taking an antacid medicine, leave a gap of at least half an hour between taking sucralfate and the antacid. For any other medicine, the gap between taking sucralfate and the other medicine should be at least two hours. If you supplement your diet with sip feeds or bottle feeds prescribed by a dietician or doctor, leave at least one hour between the supplementary feed and your dose of sucralfate.
  • Try to avoid eating and drinking things that you know make your symptoms worse. Foods and drinks that have been suspected of this include fruit juices, tomatoes, chocolate, spicy foods, hot drinks, coffee, and alcoholic drinks. If it seems that a food is aggravating your symptoms, try avoiding it for a while to see if your symptoms improve.
  • Smoking increases the amount of acid produced by your stomach and may make your symptoms worse. If you are a smoker, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice on quitting.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking sucralfate.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common sucralfate side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Constipation Try to eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fibre and drink several glasses of water each day
Less frequent side-effects include: diarrhoea, feeling sick, indigestion, wind, back pain, feeling dizzy or sleepy, headache, dry mouth and rash If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
3814 (v23)
Last Checked:
31/07/2013
Next Review:
30/07/2016
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