Carafate isn’t a first-line GERD treatment, but it may help relieve symptoms. Some experts recommend it during pregnancy, though it may not be safe for people with diabetes or kidney disease.
Sucralfate is an antiulcer drug sold under the brand name Carafate. In addition to using it to treat ulcers, doctors sometimes prescribe Carafate to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you should know about Carafate if you have GERD, including how it works and the side effects it may cause.
GERD is a condition that causes stomach acid and digestive juices to flow back up into your esophagus from your stomach. This often happens at night when you’re lying down after eating a late or large meal.
Your esophagus contains sensitive tissues that can become irritated or damaged by the backward flow of stomach acid. This can lead to GERD symptoms such as intense heartburn, persistent cough, and a hoarse voice.
Carafate works against the corrosive effects of stomach acid by forming a gel-like protective coating over the mucous membrane (mucosa) of your esophagus and stomach lining. This coating action protects these areas from the burning, potentially damaging effects of GERD.
Carafate further protects these areas by increasing the production of fatty compounds, called prostaglandins, in your body tissue. Prostaglandins stimulate increased production of protective mucosa in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Carafate is a prescription medication available in pill form or as an oral suspension liquid to be taken by mouth. You should only take it as prescribed.
The most common side effect is constipation, which affects
- flatulence (gas)
- dry mouth
- itchy skin or a skin rash
- formation of an indigestible mass in your GI tract (gastric bezoar)
- aluminum toxicity in people on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease
- reduced blood phosphate levels (hypophosphatemia)
- hyperglycemia in people with diabetes
- allergic reaction that may include symptoms of anaphylaxis
If you have an allergic reaction to Carafate, let a healthcare professional know and stop taking it immediately. Also, let them know of any other side effects that don’t go away within a few days.
Heartburn and GERD are common during pregnancy, so you may be looking for a medication you can safely use. The aluminum content in Carafate makes it concerning for some pregnant or nursing people.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Carafate as a pregnancy category B drug, meaning it’s safe for use during pregnancy and lactation. The
If you have concerns, talk with a healthcare professional about alternatives you can use to relieve your symptoms.
Carafate suspension liquid contains glucose. If you have diabetes, a healthcare professional may recommend taking another drug or getting glucose testing while you take Carafate.
Due to its aluminum content, this drug may not be appropriate for people with chronic renal failure or kidney disease.
Carafate can reduce the effect of other medications you may be taking. Before taking Carafate, ensure you have a
- antiretrovirals, such as raltegravir (Isentress)
- bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (Fosamax)
- digoxin (Lanoxin)
- furosemide (Lasix)
- oral phosphate supplements
- quinolones, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- thyroid medications, such as levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid)
- warfarin (Jantoven)
Inadvertent intravenous (IV) use of Carafate oral suspension liquid has occurred. This can be deadly. Do not inject Carafate, and only take as directed.
If you have GERD, what you eat matters. Certain foods and drinks can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Other food types may be easier for you to tolerate. A trial-and-error approach may help you identify which foods cause acid reflux and which digest easily.
Keep in mind that you may get acid reflux from any food eaten in too-large quantities or right before bed.
Foods to eat include:
- high fiber foods such as whole grains
- root vegetables, including sweet potato, beets, and carrots
- cooked or raw green vegetables, like string beans and broccoli
- fruits that are low in acid, like bananas and watermelon
Foods and drinks to avoid include:
- alcoholic beverages
- carbonated beverages
- spicy foods
- high fat or fried food
- acidic fruits, like grapefruit and oranges
- tomatoes and tomato-based products
Carafate and omeprazole (Prilosec, Losec) are both treatments for GI disorders, but they work differently.
Carafate is an antiulcer medication that relieves GERD symptoms by forming a protective coating over the sensitive tissues in your esophagus. Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that relieves GERD symptoms by blocking the enzyme that produces acid in the stomach.
Carafate is only available by prescription. Omeprazole is available both by prescription and over the counter, under several brand names.
Both medications may affect the absorption and effectiveness of other drugs you take. You and a healthcare professional can determine which medication is best for you.
Here are some commonly asked questions people have about Carafate or generic sucralfate.
How long does it take sucralfate to work for GERD?
It’s unclear how quickly sucralfate can help with GERD symptoms. Many people start to feel relief within a few weeks. Clinical trials of sucralfate as GERD treatment lasted
Can sucralfate heal GERD?
Sucralfate can help relieve GERD symptoms and heal your esophagus. But, it doesn’t cure the root problem that causes GERD. Curing GERD permanently typically requires medications such as proton pump inhibitors, lifestyle changes, and surgery in rare cases.
Can you take sucralfate with omeprazole?
There are no dangerous drug interactions between sucralfate and omeprazole. But there are dosing intervals you should follow when taking both drugs.
Talk with a doctor if you’re not getting ample relief from one medication. They can help you decide which drug to take or if you need both.
Can you take antacids with sucralfate?
Yes, but you should wait
Carafate is an antiulcer drug doctors sometimes use to treat GERD. Carafate works by forming a gel-like barrier over your esophagus, protecting it from acid reflux.
If you have GERD, a healthcare professional can help determine which medication will be best for you.