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How Effective Is Ranitidine for Reflux?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Feb 03, 2024
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The use of ranitidine for reflux is typically very effective in most patients if the cause of symptoms is an overproduction of stomach acid. When used for basic spitting up for babies or in adults who have heartburn symptoms for other reason, it probably won’t help much at all. In those who have actual reflex disease, it is usually the first choice in medications because of its effectiveness and safety.

There are various types of reflux, and people often get confused on exactly what it means. Babies who spit up a lot may be said to have reflux, but this is not sufficient enough to warrant the use of medication. If the spitting up is not causing any pain and is not damaging the esophagus, then ranitidine will probably not do any good. It does not prevent spitting up, which is caused by a weak or underdeveloped esophageal sphincter.

In those who have a more severe form of the condition where pain and heavy stomach acid production is present, the use of ranitidine for reflux is often very effective. Some cases of reflux are caused by the same weak muscle, but excess stomach acid travels upward into the throat causing pain. Over time, this acid can also damage the esophagus.

The use of ranitidine for reflux is intended as a way to reduce the amount of stomach acid produced. It will not prevent acid from rising into the throat, so whatever acid is still present will still be free to move upward until the sphincter is strengthened. Spitting up is most common in young babies and it is usually outgrown by age one.

It is often hard to tell which patients have true acid reflux disease and which have other types of heartburn or reflux. Sometimes doctors will prescribe ranitidine for reflux and wait to see if it has an effect. Those with true acid overproduction will generally feel relief within two weeks, and often much sooner. If symptoms do not improve within this time period, it typically means that another health condition is causing them. Most patients will improve with ranitidine if true reflux disease is to blame.

Ranitidine is considered safe for patients of all ages. Even so, it is not recommended that patients take it if it is not really needed. Those who take this medicine and do not feel a relief in symptoms within two weeks should speak with their doctors on choosing another medication.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On May 19, 2013

@ysmina-- It depends on how bad your reflux is. Ranitidine is a histamine blocker and omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. For milder reflux, for the prevention of stomach ulcers and for individuals who don't tolerate medications well, ranitidine is best. Ranitidine also has less side effects and costs less than omeprazole.

For people who have severe reflux, stomach ulcers and good tolerance, omeprazole is a better option.

In other words, you can start off with ranitidine and if it doesn't work, you can switch to omeprazole or another proton pump inhibitor.

By bear78 — On May 19, 2013

@ysmina-- I can't say anything about omeprazole, but I have been taking ranitidine for a few months now and it has been very effective for me.

I am diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease and have been experiencing chronic hyperacidity, indigestion, nausea and heartburn. Ranitidine is the only medication that I've tried and it has eliminated my symptoms almost completely.

On most days I'm perfectly fine. Once in a while, I have a bad day with acidity and heartburn but I think that has more to do with what I eat than with ranitidine.

By ysmina — On May 18, 2013

Has anyone tried ranitidine and omeprazole for acid reflux? Which is more effective?

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