Since 1996 when Zantac OTC was made available in a nonprescription strength, it has become almost a household name. Anyone suffering from ‘acid indigestion’ has probably taken Zantac at least once for the almost immediate relief it provides. Although there is some controversy over whether or not this medication can treat more severe gastrointestinal conditions, there is still a huge portion of the population who wouldn’t be without their Zantac.
What Is Zantac?
Zantac was first released on the market in 1981 as a prescription drug and from that time until 1988 it had the honor of being the best selling medication around the world. The relief it provided to those suffering from a number of conditions such as duodenal ulcers, stomach ulcers, GERD, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and erosive esophagitis was amazing and people actually found relief for the first time with this innovative H2 histamine blocker. Zantac is also used in the treatment of upper gastrointestinal bleeding and can be used in the prevention of stress ulcers which are common to those who take NSAIDs. The generic name for Zantac is ranitidine which is now available in both prescription and OTC strengths.
Without getting overly technical, H2 refers to a receptor site that causes acid to be produced in the stomach. If you think of Zantac like an antihistamine you will more easily understand how it works. Just as a traditional antihistamine would prevent your body from having allergic reactions by blocking the histamine (H1) receptor site, Zantac helps to prevent excess acid which is produced when H2 reaches specific receptor sites. For all intents and purposes it is an antihistamine, so just think of it as a stomach antihistamine that prevents a specific kind of ‘allergic’ reaction which produces acid.
In recent years doctors have been leaning away from prescribing Zantac as there is now another class of pharmaceutical, proton pump inhibitors, which are said to be more effective in certain disorders which are more severe. While Zantac is still among the treatments of choice for acid indigestion, heartburn, the treatment of some ulcers, the prevention of ulcers and to prevent them from coming back. GlaxoSmithKline manufactures prescription strength Zantac and there are various companies who manufacture the generic ranitidine and Zantac OTC is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim.
How Is Zantac Taken?
There are a number of ways in which Zantac is taken although it is most commonly available in tablet form. This medication also comes in effervescent granules, an effervescent tablet and also as syrup. Most often it is taken orally approximately 30 to 60 minutes prior to eating or before drinking anything that is known to promote the production of excess acid. Depending on instructions from your doctor, Zantac 150 dosage may be taken up to four times a day.
When taking Zantac Oral effervescent pills, it is recommended that you dissolve one tablet in 5 ml (one teaspoon) of water. Once it has dissolved you are to drink it down. You can take it with or without food as so desired and it is usually taken only once or twice a day. When taking the Zantac Oral effervescent liquid it is recommended that you carefully measure your Zantac 150 dosage or Zantac 300 dosage with either a measuring spoon or a special medication spoon.
Potential Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
Although there are few Zantac 150 side effects which have been reported, there is always the potential in some people to experience one or more of the following side effects or adverse reactions. The most commonly reported, albeit rare, side effects are dizziness, headaches, and sometimes either diarrhea or constipation. Other, less common, side effects include blurred vision and mental confusion but this is usually only seen in older patients.
In very rare cases there have been reports of bruising or bleeding easily, extreme exhaustion, enlarged breasts, irregular heartbeats and sometimes signs of infection which include but are not limited to fevers, coughs and sore throats. Irregular breathing has also been evidenced on rare occasions. Although these reactions are extremely rare, it is wise to know what they are and what to look for, especially if you are taking Zantac for the first time.
One of the things to be aware of when taking any medication (or even vitamin or natural supplement) is that they may adversely interact with other medications. Keep in mind that Zantac reduces stomach acid which can change the rate of absorption by certain medications. For this reason, it is suggested that you talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking such pharmaceuticals as delavirdine, gefitinib, raltegravir, atazanavir, dasatinib, glipizide, and triazolam to name just a few. Certain antifungals may also be adversely affected such as the drug ketoconazole.
Special Precautions When Taking Zantac
It seems as if Zantac 150 dosage is taken by a number of people over an extended period of time, but the warnings clearly state that Zantac should only be taken for 2 weeks (14 days) at a time. If you find that you need to take Zantac OTC for longer periods of time because you have not found relief, it is best you speak with your physician anyway. You may be treating the wrong disease or illness.
While Zantac itself is a histamine blocker and not known to cause allergic reactions, there may be additives or fillers that some people could be allergic to. If you find that you have any type of reaction to this medication you should immediately contact your doctor and of course discontinue using it. The liquid form may actually contain alcohol so it is advised that anyone with an alcohol dependence or diabetes or liver disease may want to consult with your pharmacist or doctor to see if it is advisable that you take this form of Zantac.
Also, as mentioned earlier, elderly people are more susceptible to side effects. The reason for this is because Zantac is filtered through the kidneys and as people age, kidney function declines. For this reason, older individuals should use Zantac or any medication with caution and if they or any family members notice that it is causing dizziness or confusion, it should be immediately discontinued and a doctor consulted.
Just as people in severe pain have been known to overdose on pain killers trying to find some relief, it might be possible to overdose on Zantac if stomach distress is not immediately relieved. In case of accidental overdose, it is important to call either the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or if the situation is a dire emergency you should call fire rescue at 911.
In a random sampling of consumer reviews which can be found online, 80% said they found more relieve with omeprazole than they did with Zantac in terms of serious conditions such as GERD where only 50% found Zantac to be effective. However, in terms of heartburn and acid reflux, 9 out of 10 said that Zantac provided the results they were looking for and were now able to eat foods which they had previously had to forego.
However, there was still a significant amount of consumers who said that one tablet at bedtime was effective in treating GERD. When it came to treating ulcers there were mixed reviews. It was split about evenly down the middle where 50% of those providing reviews stated that Zantac afforded relieve from the burning pain while the other 50% stated that they had better results with proton pump inhibitors.
One site providing 16 user reviews when taken for heartburn provided the following results. As far as effectiveness, the average rating was 4.5 out of 5, ease of use rated the medicine at 4.69 out of 5 and customer satisfaction resulted in 4.44 out of 5. With so many acid reducers on the market those are great percentages. However, in terms of treating conditions such as GERD, the users on this site gave Zantac much lower ratings which averaged 1 out of 5.
The information on this site is not meant to replace professional diagnoses and/or treatments made by medical doctors. It is always recommended that you seek medical advice if you are having any health related issues prior to taking any medications whatsoever. However, since Zantac is provided in OTC strength, many individuals do not consult with their doctor prior to taking the medication.
Although there are few reported incidences of side effects or adverse reactions, it is in your best interest to read all the literature accompanying your medication so that you know what to watch for. If you are given a prescription for Zantac then your pharmacist can provide you with a product printout. Make sure that you only take this medication as directed and for the amount of time specified. Keep this and all mediations out of reach of children and it should also be kept in an airtight container. Make sure to observe the ‘Best If Used By’ dates and discard any unused portions as directed.