Ranitidine to reduce stomach acid

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  • Ranitidine reduces the amount of acid produced by your stomach.
  • Side-effects are not common but may include diarrhoea, headache, and dizziness. These effects are usually mild and do not last long.
Type of medicine H2-receptor antagonist
Used for Treatment of conditions caused by too much acid being produced in the stomach
Also called Gavilast®, Histac®, Ranitic®, Ranitil®, Ranzac®, Zantac®
Available as Tablets, effervescent tablets, oral liquid, and injection

Ranitidine is used to treat certain conditions caused by too much acid being produced in the stomach, such as stomach ulcers (gastric ulcers), ulcers of the upper part of the intestine (duodenal ulcers), acid reflux or heartburn (reflux oesophagitis), and indigestion. It can also be used to treat irritation and ulceration of the stomach which has been caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Acid is produced naturally in your stomach to help to digest food. Excessive amounts of acid can irritate the lining of your stomach, causing inflammation, ulcers and other conditions. Ranitidine works by reducing the amount of acid produced by your stomach, relieving pain and helping to repair any damage.

Ranitidine is available on prescription, or you can buy it at pharmacies, without a prescription, for the relief of indigestion.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking ranitidine it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you have any of the following symptoms: bleeding, difficulty swallowing, being sick frequently, or unexplained weight loss.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about ranitidine and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take ranitidine exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and when to take it. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack. It is usually taken once or twice a day.
  • If you have been prescribed ranitidine effervescent tablets, dissolve or mix them in water to take them.
  • Try to take ranitidine at the same time(s) each day. This will help you to remember to take all of your doses.
  • You can take ranitidine before or after meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Your doctor may have prescribed you a course of treatment lasting a number of weeks. Keep your regular doctor's appointments so your progress can be checked.
  • Some foods may make your symptoms worse. Foods and drinks that have been suspected of this include: peppermint, tomatoes, chocolate, spicy foods, hot drinks, coffee, and alcoholic drinks. If it seems that a food is aggravating your symptoms, try avoiding it for a while to see if your symptoms improve. Also, try avoiding eating large meals, as these can make your symptoms worse too.
  • If you are overweight, it puts extra pressure on your stomach and encourages the symptoms of acid reflux. Losing some weight and eating a healthy balanced diet may help you.
  • Smoking increases the amount of acid produced by the stomach and may make your symptoms worse. If you are a smoker, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about how to quit.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Ranitidine side-effects include: What can I do if I experience this?
Diarrhoea Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Dizziness, skin rash, blurred vision If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to ranitidine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
  • If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
  • Manufacturer's PIL, Ranitidine 150 mg and 300 mg Film-coated Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Ranitidine 150 mg and 300 mg Film-coated Tablets, Accord Healthcare Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2009.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
3811 (v23)
Last Checked:
13/06/2012
Next Review:
13/06/2015
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