Ranitidine belongs to a group of medicines that reduce the amount of acid produced by the cells in the lining of the stomach. They are called 'histamine H2-receptor antagonists', but are commonly also called H2 blockers.
Ranitidine is helpful in the treatment of conditions caused by too much acid being produced in the stomach. These conditions include stomach ulcers (gastric ulcers), ulcers of the upper part of the intestine (duodenal ulcers), acid reflux or heartburn (reflux oesophagitis), and indigestion. Ranitidine is also prescribed to treat ulceration of the stomach which has been caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Acid is produced naturally in your stomach to help you 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. This helps to relieve symptoms and assist the healing process where damage has already occurred.
Ranitidine is available on prescription. You can also buy short courses of ranitidine at retail outlets for symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion and hyperacidity, in adults and in children over 16 years of age.
Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about ranitidine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
Take ranitidine exactly as your doctor tells you to, or as directed on the label if you have bought it. There are three different strengths of tablet available - 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg. Only the lower strength of tablet can be purchased. Ranitidine is taken once or twice a day.
You can take ranitidine either before or after meals. If you have been prescribed ranitidine effervescent tablets, you should take the tablet dissolved or mixed into water.
If you forget to take a dose at your usual time, you can take it when you remember. However, if it is nearly time to take your next dose when you remember, leave out the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with ranitidine, although these are generally mild and do not last long. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
- Ranitidine side-effects
- Constipation or diarrhoea, tummy pain
- Feeling sick
- Feeling dizzy, headache
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to ranitidine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
To make sure that this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking ranitidine it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist:
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have any of the following symptoms: difficulty swallowing, loss of blood, weight loss, or if you are being sick.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet