The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea of what to expect from each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with a peptic ulcer caused by Helicobacter pylori, your doctor will use a combination of medications. You may be given one or two types of antibiotics, as well as medications that help control your stomach acid production. You might be advised to use antacids to help soothe uncomfortable symptoms.

During treatment, you will likely need to stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Once the ulcer is healed, you and your doctor will evaluate any future NSAID use.

Examples of prescription medications include:

Antibiotics

  • Tetracycline
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Amoxicillin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Levaquin

H-2 Blockers

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)

Proton Pump Inhibitors

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)

Sodium Sucralfate (Carafate)

Misoprostol (Cytotec)

Examples of over-the-counter medications include:

Antacids

  • Gaviscon
  • Di-Gel
  • Mylanta
  • Maalox Advanced Regular Strength
  • Tums

Common names include:

  • Tetracycline
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Amoxicillin
  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Levofloxacin

Antibiotics can clear up the bacteria H. pylori. You should always take all of the prescription, even if you begin to feel better before your medication is finished.

Tetracycline:

  • Always take with a full glass of water.
  • Don’t take tetracycline within two hours of drinking a milk product or using an antacid.
  • Be sure your doctor knows if there’s any chance you may be pregnant. Tetracycline can permanently stain the baby’s developing teeth.
  • Tetracycline may make you very sensitive to sunlight. Protect your skin appropriately.

Metronidazole:

  • Take with food to avoid stomach upset.
  • Don’t drink alcohol while you’re using this medication.
  • Your urine may appear darker and you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth while you’re taking metronidazole.
  • Some people feel lightheaded when they first start taking metronidazole. You should avoid driving, operating dangerous machinery, and participating in hazardous activities until you know how this drug will affect you.

Amoxicillin:

  • You can take this medication on either a full or an empty stomach.
  • If you are taking birth control pills, use an additional or backup form of contraception, such as a condom.
  • Contact your doctor if you develop diarrhea while taking this medication.

Clarithromycin:

  • Have your doctor and pharmacist check to make sure you’re not taking any other drugs that could interact with clarithromycin.

Any type of antibiotic can cause an allergic reaction. Discontinue the drug and contact your doctor immediately if you notice:

  • A new skin rash
  • Hives or welts on your skin
  • Puffiness of the face or around your eyes
  • Difficulty breathing

Common names include:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)

H-2 blockers help decrease acid production in the stomach. They may be given to help with heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, or other forms of excess acidity in the stomach. Some of these drugs have potential drug interactions with other medications, so consult your doctor and pharmacist.

Possible side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion (cimetidine, especially in the elderly)
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Common names include:

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)

Proton pump inhibitors decrease acid production in the stomach. They may be given to help with heartburn, indigestion, and difficulty swallowing.

Possible side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased risk of certain fractures in people who take proton pump inhibitors in high doses or for longer than a year
  • Carafate

Sucralfate coats your stomach and the ulcer. It helps protect it from further damage by stomach acid. This can help speed healing. It’s also useful to protect people taking NSAIDs against the development of peptic ulcers.

Do not take sucralfate within 30 minutes before or after taking antacids.

  • Cytotec

Misoprostol protects the stomach lining and decreases acid production. This helps peptic ulcers heal more quickly. It’s also useful to protect people taking NSAIDs against the development of peptic ulcers.

Do not take misoprostol if you are pregnant. It can cause miscarriage.

Some people develop nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea while using this medication. These side effects usually go away within a few days. However, if they don’t go away or if they seem severe, contact your doctor.

Common brand names include:

  • Gaviscon
  • Di-Gel
  • Mylanta
  • Maalox Advanced Regular Strength
  • Tums

Antacids work to neutralize acidity in the stomach. They’re given to improve symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Possible side effects include:

You will likely need to stop taking NSAIDs to allow the ulcers to heal. After healing is complete, your doctor may evaluate your use of NSAIDs during follow-up visits. If you need NSAIDs in the future, your doctor may recommend a substitute, or prescribe proton pump inhibitors or H-2 blockers to protect your stomach.

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medications as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Know what side effects could occur. Discuss them with your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking the medication.
  • Plan ahead for refills if you need them.
  • Do not share your medication with anyone.
  • Drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one drug, including over-the-counter products and supplements.