Misoprostol is a synthetically prepared prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) methyl ester analog. It has a cytoprotective and anti-secretory effect on the mucosal lining of the stomach that makes it a very effective drug for the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers. This medicine is commonly prescribed for patients who have to use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)for a prolonged duration for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal disorders. It is known that the risk of peptic ulcers is very high in patients who use NSAIDs. Patients having endoscopically proven benign ulcers in the stomach should use this medicine so that the gastric mucosa is protected from the damaging effects caused by the NSAIDs. Patients should continue using Misoprostol as long as they are taking pain killers.
This medicine also helps in the healing of ulcers in patients in whom the damage has worsened due to excessive smoking or alcoholism. Patients may suffer from a dull aching or severe burning pain in the upper abdomen due to the ulcers. The pain is relieved temporarily after taking food or antacid drugs. It may last for few minutes to an hour.
The other common symptoms suffered by the stomach ulcer patients are given below:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bloating sensation in the abdomen
- Constant burping
- Nausea and vomiting
Patients may also complain of dark colored stools due to the trickling of the blood from the ulcers through the intestines. Peptic ulcers have to be treated with effective drugs like Misoprostol. If neglected, they may be aggravated, causing malignancy or perforation of the ulcers, and even posing a life threatening situation.
The diagnosis of this condition should be based on the clinical symptoms, the history of long term use of NSAIDs, history of alcoholism and the habit of eating very spicy food. The diagnosis can be confirmed by performing an endoscopy. A biopsy from the edge of the ulcer has to be taken during the endoscopy. A Histopathological examination of the biopsy tissue should be done to rule out malignant ulcers. Barium X-rays can also help in the detection of the ulcers.
Patients, who are at higher risk of developing peptic ulcers, or those in whom the stomach ulcers are confirmed after laboratory tests, must start taking Misoprostol. Misoprostol, the stomach ulcer medication, should be taken in a dose of 200 mcg, 4 times in a day. If patients can not tolerate this dose, it can be lowered to 100 mcg, 4 times per day. Patients should take this drug after food only.
Patients should note that they may suffer from some side effects due to this drug. It can lead to dermatitis, anemia, weakness, rigors, pain in the breasts and abnormal vision. They may also complain of bronchospasm, arrhythmia, tinnitus, pain in the ears, reduced hearing, epistaxis and polyuria. Anxiety, depression, dizziness, loss of libido, changes in the appetite and increased sweating can also occur in patients using this drug. It is very important to mention that the use of Misoprostol in pregnant females can cause fetal malformations, abortion and even fetal death. Hence, women should avoid conception when they are taking treatment with Misoprostol. They should use appropriate contraceptive methods for preventing pregnancy. Also, patients suffering from cardiac disorders should use this drug with caution.