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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.

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.

How it works

Ranitidine belongs to a class of drugs called histamine receptor antagonists. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Ranitidine works by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach.

Side effects

Most people who take ranitidine do not have any side effects. If you do get a side effect, it is usually mild and will go away when you stop taking ranitidine.

The following side effects aren't common and may happen in more than 1 in 1,000 people. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don't go away:

  • stomach pains
  • constipation
  • feeling sick

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are very rare and happen in less than 1 in 10,000 people. Call a doctor straight away if you have:

  • stomach pain that seems to be getting worse - this can be a sign of an inflamed liver or pancreas
  • back pain, fever, pain when peeing or blood in your pee - these can be signs of kidney problems
  • a rash, swollen joints or kidney problems - these can be signs that your small blood vessels are swollen (vasculitis)
  • a slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to ranitidine.