Ranitidine: What Is it and What’s it Used For?

Daniela Andarcia · 28 May, 2021
Ranitidine is a controversial drug. In some countries its sale is even prohibited. Find out what it is used for, what its side effects are and why its use has been limited.

Ranitidine is a drug available in several formats, usually one over the counter and one with a prescription. It is used to treat various conditions such as stomach ulcers or high acidity levels.

Its active ingredient is known by the same name, ranitidine. Currently, several countries have suspended the sale of ranitidine-based medicines or batches, having found unacceptable levels of NDMA, a substance that may be carcinogenic.

Zantac is the brand name that makes ranitidine as an oral tablet, although it can be found on the market as a generic drug. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it used for?

Ranitidine reduces heartburn
Ranitidine reduces heartburn and thus also the effects of gastroesophageal reflux.

Ranitidine is used to treat various conditions such as:

It is generally intended as a short-term treatment, although this depends on which disorder is being treated.

How is it taken?

Before indicating the dose, frequency, and presentation of ranitidine to be taken, some factors should be taken into account.

  • Type of disturbance
  • Age
  • Severity of the symptoms
  • Reaction to the drug
  • The presence of other diseases

Presentations of ranitidine

The brand name Zantac and generic ranitidine can be found in oral tablets of 150 to 300 milligrams. It is, however, also available in capsules and syrup or as a solution for injection.

Doses

It’s good to keep in mind that the doses can vary according to the disorder. Usually, patients aged 17 to 64 are prescribed a dose of 150 milligrams, twice a day or 300 milligrams to be taken only once every 24 hours. Some doctors recommend taking it before bed or after dinner.

For babies under one month of age it isn’t a safe drug. However, from the first month to 16 years, the doctor can prescribe the dose of 2 to 4 milligrams, twice a day and based on body weight.

The dose of 300 milligrams per day mustn’t be exceeded.

It isn’t recommended for people over the age of 65, as it can cause hallucinations, delirium, and other side effects. If necessary, the specialist may recommend a lower dose.

Who shouldn’t take it?

Ranitidine may not be safe in some cases. In the presence of these diseases or conditions, the doctor should be informed.

  • Diabetes
  • A diet low in calcium or salt
  • Kidney problems
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Allergy to ranitidine

As we have said, this drug can’t be given to babies under one month of age. There’s scientific evidence that seems to show that ranitidine can make them more prone to developing infections and even increase the likelihood of death. However, more research is still needed in this regard.

What are the possible side effects?

Headache is one of the side effects of ranitidine
The negative effects of this drug are varied, but generally mild.

The effects of ranitidine in tablet form can be divided into two groups, the common side effects and those that are considered serious.

Common side effects

If these effects don’t disappear in a few days, you should consult your doctor.

Serious side effects of ranitidine

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately:

  • Dark urine
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Jaundice
  • Confusional state, extreme tiredness, or agitation
  • Visual disturbances
  • Hallucinations
  • Tachycardia
  • Difficult breathing

If you notice any other problems, see your doctor immediately. Not all side effects are on this list, because each person can experience different signs.

What happens if I stop taking ranitidine?

As we have seen, we must pay attention to the use of this drug. Because of this, it’s advisable to inform your doctor before stopping its use and starting with an alternative medication.

What to do in case of overdose?

Call 112 or go to the emergency room.

How to store and dispose of this medicine?

As with all medicines, the directions on the package must be followed. The general rule is to keep the tablets in their original container and, in this case, in a cool place.

As for disposal, you should never throw drugs down the toilet. You can throw the unused tablets in the garbage, protecting them so as to make consumption impossible. Better still, you can take them to the appropriate collection at the pharmacy.

Ranitidine, a banned drug in some countries

Although it’s still under investigation, ranitidine can increase the likelihood of developing certain diseases, which is why some countries have suspended its sale. It’s used to treat stomach or intestinal ulcers or to prevent relapse.

Remember not to take this drug with other drugs; simultaneous intake could alter the action and cause serious side effects. Consult your doctor and discontinue use if you notice visual disturbances, severe stomach pain, or other symptoms.

Finally, please note that this article is for informational purposes and does not replace a doctor’s visit or advice. Avoid self-medication and only take medications approved by your doctor.

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) from the Market. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-requests-removal-all-ranitidine-products-zantac-market
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