Ranitidine

Generic Name

ranitidine(ra NIT a deen)

 

Trade Name

Zantac (75 mg tablet, 150 mg tablet, 300 mg tablet, 150 mg capsule, 300 mg capsule )
Zantac is also available as a syrup and EFFERdose Tablets and Granules.

 

What is ranitidine?

This drug is one of the H2 blockers. It partially blocks the production of acid in stomach cells. Since stomach acid plays an important role in causing ulcers and other tissue injury, the drug has been very helpful in treating these conditions.

 

What is it used for?

Ranitidine can be effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Healing and prevention of peptic ulcers in the stomach or duodenum
  • Reflux of acid into the esophagus (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Hyperacidity
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome – a rare condition where large amounts of acid pour from the stomach. However, there are now much more effective medications for this condition.

 

How do I take it?

Follow your physician’s instructions carefully. Ranitidine should be taken immediately after meals. The Efferdose tablets and granules should be dissolved in 6 to 8 ounces of water before taking them. Store in a tightly closed container away from light. Keep all medications away from children. Never share your medications with anyone else.

 

What do I do for a missed dose?

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not double up on this medication.

 

Are there interactions with food or beverages?

There are no known interactions with any food or alcohol. Alcohol and caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, cola and chocolate, both stimulate stomach acid production and may worsen ulcer symptoms.

 

Are there interactions with other drugs?

An interaction generally means that one drug may increase or decrease the effect of another drug. Also, the more medications a person takes, the more likely there will be a drug interaction.

Interactions with this drug may occur with the following:

  • antacids
  • blood thinners (Coumadin)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • glyburide (Micronase, Diabeta)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • metoprolol (Lopressor)
  • nifedipine (Procardia)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • procainamide (Procanbid)
  • sucralfate (Carafate)
  • theophylline (Theo-Dur, Slo-bid)

 

Is there a problem if I have another disorder or disease?

At times, a drug may have a different or enhanced effect when other diseases are present. At other times, the drug may worsen or effect another disease. This drug is partly metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys. Your physician should know if you have severe liver or kidney disease.

 

What about allergies?

People who have known allergies or asthma may be at an increased risk for a reaction from any new medication. The physician should always know a patient’s allergy history. Signs of an allergic reaction are skin rash, itching and hives. Of course, a person should not take ranitidine if there has been a previous reaction to it or other H2 blockers. The Efferdose tablets and granules contain phenylalanine to which some people are sensitive.

 

What if I’m pregnant, considering pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Most females now know that, if possible, no drug, including alcohol, should be taken during pregnancy or lactation. The potential danger, of course, is an injury to the baby. However, some drugs are much safer than others in this regard. So, the FDA has a grading system for each drug which reflects what is known medically. It ranks drugs from A, where medical studies show no evidence for danger to the fetus or mother, to B, C, D and X, where the medical evidence indicates that the risk to the fetus outweighs any benefit to the mother. Ranitidine is ranked B. Always consult your physician before taking any drug during or when planning pregnancy.

 

What are the effects on sexual function?

Ranitidine can cause male breast enlargement. Rarely, it can cause impotence and loss of libido.

 

Are there other precautions?

Ranitidine may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Do not drive or operate other hazardous machinery until the effect of the drug has been determined. Because smoking is a risk factor in peptic ulcer disease, stop smoking if possible. Taking ranitidine with antacids could prevent absorption of the ranitidine. If antacids are necessary while on ranitidine therapy, the doses should be staggered. Do not use over-the-counter doses for more than two weeks without physician approval.

 

How long is it safe to take ranitidine?

Continual use on a regular schedule for 4 to 6 weeks will determine the effectiveness of ranitidine in healing active peptic ulcer disease. Continual use for 6 to 12 weeks is needed to heal the esophagus in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Long-term use of months to years is generally safe but does require periodic medical evaluation.

 

How about side effects?

Adverse reactions can occur with any drug, even over-the-counter medications. Some of these are mild such as a stomach upset, which may be avoided by taking the medication with food. Minor reactions may go away on their own but if they persist, contact the physician. For major reactions, the patient should contact the physician immediately.

For ranitidine, the following are the observed side effects:

Minor:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • constipation
  • rash

Major:

  • weakness
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • abnormal skin bruising
  • yellow color to skin or eyes
  • confusion
  • agitation

 

A physician’s comment…

The entire field of healing ulcers has changed considerably since it was discovered that most ulcers are caused by the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, or by arthritis or pain medications like aspirin, Advil, Motrin and Naprosyn. Now ulcers can be cured by antibiotics and drugs are no longer needed to prevent ulcers from recurring. However, ranitidine can still be very useful in just plain hyperacidity and especially in reflux of acid into the esophagus – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).