Generic Name: Sucralfate
What is Carafate?
Carafate (sucralfate) is a medication used for the treatment and prevention of intestinal ulcers. This medication coats the ulcers and protects it from further injury. Its action helps the ulcers to heal more quickly. Sucralfate does not get easily absorbed into the body via the digestive tract. Instead, it works mostly in the stomach lining by adhering to the sites of the ulcer and also protects these areas from stomach acid, bile salts, and enzymes. It is also used for the treatment of any active duodenal ulcer.
There are certain conditions that are treated by Carafate and they include:
- Duodenal ulcers
- Painful mouth sores
- Inflamed gums
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Stomach ulcer
- Inflammation of mucous membranes caused by sclerotherapy
Before Starting the Medicine
- It is important to follow all the instructions that are prescribed on the medicine label or follow the instructions given by your doctor.
- Inform your doctor if you are allergic to this medicine or any of its ingredients.
- To ensure that Carafate is safe to use, tell your doctor if you have diabetes, kidney problems, or if you are unable to swallow the tablets.
- Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning for pregnancy, or breastfeeding a baby.
Do not take this medication for a longer duration and avoid taking higher or lower doses without your doctor's advice. Carafate should be taken on an empty stomach at least an hour or two before consuming a meal. When using the oral suspension or liquid form, it is important to properly measure the dose before taking it. Proper measurement of the medicine can be done using a special measuring spoon or a small measuring cup.
To ensure complete healing of the ulcers, complete the course of medication even though the symptoms go away. You also need to store this medication at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.
If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, make sure not to take any other medicine two hours before or after taking Carafate. If it is already time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your scheduled dose. Do not take an extra dose to compensate for the missed dose. Seek immediate medical attention in the event of an overdose. Avoid the use of antacids along with this medicine without your doctor's advice. There are antacids that would make it harder for Carafate to work in the stomach.
For the treatment of ulcers, the usual dosage is four times a day on an empty stomach. It should be taken at least one hour before meals and at bedtime. Continue taking the medicine as recommended by your doctor until an endoscopic exam or X-ray confirms healing of the ulcers.
The common side effects an individual may experience after taking Carafate are:
- Back pain
- Trouble sleeping leading to insomnia
- Skin rashes
- Mild itching
- A spinning sensation
- Stomach upset
Seek emergency medical help if you experience any of the following allergic reactions:
- Finding it difficult to breathe
- Swelling of the lips, throat, face, and tongue
- Severe dizziness
Generally, constipation is the most commonly reported side effect. In clinical trials, the adverse reactions identified were only minor and the discontinuation of this medicine is only in rare cases. In one study that involved more than 2,700 patients treated with Carafate (sucralfate), the adverse reactions were only noted in around 130 patients, which is only 4.7 percent of the entire population used for testing. In certain cases, there are also individuals who have complained about hyperglycemia after the use of Carafate.
The elderly, children, people who are taking other types of medicines, and people who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver problems, kidney disease, heart disease, and seizures, have an increased risk of developing a broader range of potential side effects.
Speak with your doctor for medical advice regarding the side effects of Carafate.
Drug interactions may alter how a specific medication works. Such interactions may also increase a person's risk of having serious side effects. For this reason, it is quite important to keep a list of all the medications you are taking, which includes both prescription and nonprescription drugs, herbal products, and other supplements, and share them to your healthcare provider. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of your medication unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
Below are some medications that may interact with Carafate:
- Certain antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, and tetracyclines)
- Antacids that contain aluminum
- Thyroid medications (levothyroxine, liothyronine)
Moderate Food Interactions
- Enteral Feeding - Sucralfate may not work well when it is given along with enteral feedings since the feeding tube may become clogged. Feeding could be interrupted for an hour before or after giving a dose of sucralfate, but may not completely avoid the interaction. Inform your healthcare provider of all the products you use, including herbal medications, vitamins, and supplements.
Major Disease Interactions
- Phosphate Imbalance - Sucralfate is sometimes therapeutically used due to its phosphate-binding properties. However, some patients, regardless of their renal status, may develop hypophosphatemia (abnormally low phosphate level in the blood). For this reason, sucralfate treatment should be cautiously administered, especially in patients with preexisting hypophosphatemia. It is also recommended to monitor the phosphate levels of these patients.
- Short-term treatment for duodenal ulcers (4-8 weeks).
- May be administered in long-term small doses to prevent ulcer re-erosion.
- Side effects are generally well-tolerated due to its minimal absorption in the stomach and duodenum.
People who are 18-60 years old and do not have other health conditions or take no other medications are more likely to have the following side effects:
- Constipation is the main reported side effect in 2 percent of people taking this medicine. Other common side effects are dry mouth, diarrhea, rash, itching, and nausea.
- It may not be recommended to people who have conditions that cause difficulty swallowing or a previous history of aspiration.
- After oral intake, small amounts of aluminum are absorbed since sucralfate contains aluminum. People with kidney problems may accumulate aluminum in the body.
- People with poor kidney function are more prone to experiencing the side effects of sucralfate.
- Drugs such as thyroxine, phenytoin, fluoroquinolones, and digoxin may be poorly absorbed when sucralfate is also taken. These medications should be taken a couple of hours before taking sucralfate.
- Taken four times a day for the treatment of ulcers and two times a day for ulcer maintenance therapy.