How Effective Is Ranitidine for Ulcers?

S. Berger

Ranitidine is a commonly used antacid in many parts of the world, and it works by binding to receptor sites on cells in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing them to produce less stomach acid. This drug may be used to treat upset stomach or heartburn. It also may be used in the treatment of ulcers, which are painful breaks in the GI tract caused by stomach acid damage. Ulcer treatment with this drug usually involves assisting in the healing of ulcers, as well as preventing their formation.

Ranitidine can reduce stomach acid to both treat and prevent stomach ulcers.
Ranitidine can reduce stomach acid to both treat and prevent stomach ulcers.

GI tract ulcers can heal on their own, but using ranitidine for ulcers increases healing time. They will usually clear up after two months of daily dosing with this medication, if not sooner. For this purpose, doses ranging from 75 milligrams (mg) to 300 mg can be taken twice a day.

This daily dosing schedule is sufficient to heal 90 to 100 percent of ulcers that occur in the stomach and intestines. After treatment, however, ulcers may reappear within a year or two in about 80 percent of individuals. Taking half of the therapeutic dosage of ranitidine for ulcers after they heal can prevent them from reappearing. Over the course of a year, this preventative dose can lower ulcer appearances to 20 percent in the stomach, and 30 percent in the intestines.

In patients with severe stomach issues, oral ranitidine for ulcers might not be a viable option, due to the stomach being unable to tolerate any medications. Doctors may sometimes use an intravenous (IV) preparation of this medication to treat ulcers in these patients until the stomach heals sufficiently to tolerate medication. The IV preparation bypasses the stomach, but blood flow delivers the medication to the necessary stomach cells rapidly, allowing the patient to experience relief acutely. Daily infusions via IV can help these patients to be cured of ulcers within months.

Treatments other than ranitidine for ulcers are sometimes the best treatment option, despite this drug's efficacy. Patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a type of painkiller, are at increased risk for ulcers. Research has shown that taking ranitidine for ulcers that occur from NSAID use can prevent their formation in about 50 percent to 74 percent of cases. A different type of ulcer medication, called a proton pump inhibitor, was more effective for this purpose, however. Unlike ranitidine, the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole prevented ulcers in 88 percent to 92 percent of individuals.

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