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Carafate is a unique anti-ulcer medication that appears to work in part by forming a protective layer over stomach sores and speeding healing.

It may also reduce some of the damage caused by irritating medicines such as aspirin and other anti-inflammatory arthritis drugs.

Carafate can also be helpful in cases of severe heartburn called reflux esophagitis.

Side Effects and Interactions

Side effects associated with Carafate are uncommon. Some people have reported constipation, nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea, flatulence, and dry mouth.

Other potential adverse reactions include rash, itching, dizziness, sleepiness or insomnia, headache and back pain.

Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Be sure to contact the doctor immediately if you notice red or tar-black stools or vomit red or “coffee-ground-colored” material, as any of these symptoms could signal internal bleeding.

Carafate is capable of interacting with a number of other medications. It may reduce the absorption of antibiotics like Cipro, Floxin, Noroxin, Penetrex and tetracycline.

Carafate may also affect such drugs as Dilantin, Coumadin, Lanoxin, Tagamet and Cuprimine.

Check with your pharmacist and physician for special instructions and precautions before taking any other medication.

Special Precautions

Because aluminum makes up almost 20 percent of this compound, people with kidney disease or those who must rely on dialysis should be very cautious when taking Carafate.

Kidney problems predispose people to aluminum toxicity, so such patients should use this ulcer medicine or any aluminum-containing antacid judiciously and only under careful medical supervision.

Taking the Medicine

The manufacturer recommends that Carafate be taken on an empty stomach. That usually means at least an hour before meals or two hours after eating.

Antacids should not be taken at the same time you swallow Carafate.

If such additional products become necessary, wait at least 30 minutes after swallowing Carafate before taking the antacid.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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