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What Is Misoprostol Used For?

Your healthcare provider may recommend misoprostol if you are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and are at risk for developing stomach ulcers. This prescription drug works by protecting the stomach lining from stomach acid and decreasing stomach acid secretion. There are also some off-label uses for misoprostol, such as inducing labor, treating chronic constipation, and causing an abortion.

An Overview of Uses for Misoprostol

Misoprostol (Cytotec®) is a prescription medication approved to prevent stomach ulcers (gastric ulcers) in people taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This medicine is specifically designed for those who are at risk for developing serious problems from ulcers or who have had an ulcer in the past. It is a synthetic prostaglandin E1, which is a hormone-type substance found naturally in the body.

Misoprostol Use for Ulcers

A peptic ulcer is a break or sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum). Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the lining of the small intestine or stomach. When peptic ulcers occur in the upper part of the small intestine, they are called duodenal ulcers. Peptic ulcers in the stomach are called gastric ulcers.
The majority of peptic ulcers are caused by bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). However, ulcers can also be caused by regular use of NSAIDs, including:
NSAIDs can irritate and weaken the lining of the small intestine or stomach, allowing acid to reach the stomach or duodenal wall.
A burning pain is the most common symptom of an ulcer. The pain may be worse when your stomach is empty, or at night. Other signs may include:
  • Nausea or vomiting, which may include blood
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools.
Misoprostol is used to decrease the risk of a gastric ulcer from NSAID use. It has not been shown to reduce the risk of duodenal ulcers in people taking NSAIDs. It also has not been shown to reduce stomach pain or discomfort from NSAID use.
It is important to contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of a peptic ulcer. If left untreated, this condition can cause serious problems, such as internal bleeding.

Misoprostol Drug Information

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