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long term use of ranitidine

long term use of ranitidine

What is ranitidine?

Ranitidine is a drug that’s available in a prescription version and an over-the-counter version. This article only addresses the prescription version. Prescription ranitidine comes as an oral tablet, oral capsule, or oral syrup. It also comes as an injectable solution.

Ranitidine oral tablet is available as the brand-name drug Zantac. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in all strengths or forms as the brand-name drug.

How and when to take it

It's usual to take ranitidine twice a day - 1 dose in the morning and 1 dose in the evening. Some people only need to take ranitidine once a day, at bedtime.

Very young babies, and people with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, usually take ranitidine 3 times a day. People with severe inflammation of the food pipe (oesophagitis) may need to take it 4 times a day.

Why it’s used

Ranitidine oral tablet is used to treat several conditions, including:

  • intestinal and stomach ulcers
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • erosive esophagitis
  • conditions where your stomach makes too much acid, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Ranitidine may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Ranitidine is typically used for short-term treatment, especially for GERD. If you’re taking this drug for other conditions, you may need long-term treatment. You may need to take it for several weeks or months.

Potential for a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A main concern with prolonged use of acid reducers is whether or not they’re linked to deficiencies in vitamin B12.

Over the years, there have been several studies exploring this correlation. A study by Ruscin and colleagues observed that H2 Blockers and PPIs could block the absorption of vitamin B12. In the long run (four years or more), they suggested that this could lead to a deficiency in this vitamin.

One of the largest studies by Lam and colleagues also explored the correlation between vitamin B12 deficiencies and long-term use of acid reducers.

The researchers compared 25,956 patients who had vitamin B12 deficiencies between January 1997 and June 2011 with 184,199 patients without deficiencies.

The results concluded that there is an association between the use of PPIs and H2 Blockers (when used for 2 years or more) with a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Other Side Effects

Zantac can be accompanied by a number of serious, but rare, side effects. Because of their rarity, they are not well studied and it is unclear whether they occur with long-term or short-term use. They include hepatitis, kidney inflammation, pancreas inflammation, heart rhythm abnormalities, blurred vision, confusion and reduced numbers of infection-fighting white blood cells and clot-forming platelets.

Zantac Warnings

Zantac may increase your risk of developing pneumonia. You should call your doctor if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, or other signs of pneumonia.

Heartburn is often confused with symptoms of a heart attack. You should seek emergency medical care if you experience chest pain, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, a heavy feeling in the chest, nausea, sweating, or any other signs of heart trouble.

Before taking Zantac, you should tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:

Porphyria (a group of disorders that can cause nerve or skin problems)

  • Phenylketonuria (a metabolic genetic disorder)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Tell your doctor and laboratory personnel that you are taking Zantac before having any lab work, as this medicine can impact the results of certain tests.

Unless directed by your doctor, you shouldn't take OTC Zantac for longer than two weeks.

If you take Zantac for stomach ulcers, it might take up to eight weeks before an ulcer heals. You should keep using the medication as your doctor prescribes and tell your doctor if your symptoms don't improve after six weeks.

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