Ranitidine, which may be more recognizable by one of its brandnames, Zantac®, is a medication designed to treat stomach disorders of many types, including ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease, and chronic indigestion. It is effective in these instances because it lowers production of stomach acids. This may help heal lesions in the stomach, like ulcers, or it may prevent erosion of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, while alleviating unpleasant symptoms like heartburn. Depending on the region, ranitidine may be available over the counter or by prescription, it can come in different strengths, and it is available as a liquid, pill, or as an injectable or intravenous medicine.
Drugs like ranitidine belong to a group of special antihistamines called H2 receptor antagonists. Normally, H2 receptors in the gastrointestinal system are stimulated by the presence of histamine, which binds to them. When these receptors and histamine meet, the body produces additional stomach acid. Ranitidine and other drugs prevent these meetings, so that histamine can’t bind to the receptors and the signal to produce extra acid isn’t sent. This helps lower overall acid, addressing some of the above-mentioned conditions.
Since Zantac® is available over the counter in many locales, people may fail to pay attention to the strong warnings associated with this medicine. It should never be used in pregnancy and may cause risk to breastfeeding babies if the mother takes it. It is not advised for people with liver or kidney conditions. Those with any blood disorders called porphyrias are strongly cautioned to avoid this medicine. Patients are also advised that they obtain diagnosis before using ranitidine because the symptoms of things like acid reflux can be similar to symptoms of more serious illness like stomach cancer.
There are many medicines that may conflict with ranitidine. Among these are medicines that treat a diverse variety of disorders such as AIDS, blood conditions, sleep or anxiety disorders, cancer, peptic ulcers, and fungal infections. When patients talk to a doctor about taking Zantac® they should be certain to include a list of all medications taken and mention all drug allergies. This can reduce potential for negative interactions.
The principal side effects of ranitidine may vary in individual expression. Side effects that tend not to be a concern include slight nausea, constipation, diarrhea or dizziness. People should contact their physicians if they experience allergic reaction (though the medication is sometimes used to treat hives), difficulty breathing, jaundice, skin rashes or mental/emotion symptoms such as hallucinations, panic, or depression. These are rare but should be addressed immediately.
One warning exists for certain populations of people who use ranitidine. Anyone with a compromised immune system and people who are over 65 may be at increased risk for developing pneumonia from illnesses while they are taking Zantac®. Risk of the medication must be outweighed by the benefits in these groups, and respiratory illnesses should be followed carefully.