Ranitidine HCL is a medication prescribed to treat ulcers, as well as problems with the esophagus that result from an overabundance of stomach acid. It can also be prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which the stomach acid flows up into the patient's esophagus. This H2 histamine blocker drug is also available in an over-the-counter strength formula, which a patient may take to alleviate heartburn. Ranitidine HCL works by inhibiting the production of stomach acid to help heal ulcers and relieve stomach pain.
Patients may use the over-the-counter drug by taking one tablet as needed, with a full glass of water. They should not use more than two tablets in any 24-hour period, or use it for longer than two weeks without a doctor's approval. It is intended to be taken about 30 to 60 minutes prior to consuming a meal or beverage to help prevent heartburn.
Those taking the prescription-strength ranitidine HCL will usually take it once or twice every day, with or without food. Some patients may be prescribed a higher total dosage, taken four times daily. Those who use it only once daily should do so in the evening, after a meal. Ranitidine HCL is also available as an effervescent tablet or granule packet, which should be dissolved in a full glass of water before consuming.
Some side effects may occur with the use of ranitidine HCL, which the prescribing physician should be aware of if they become bothersome. It may cause stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea. Some patients have reported nausea, vomiting, and a headache. Mild dizziness can also occur.
Patients who experience severe dizziness, a rash, and trouble breathing should seek medical attention immediately. These can be signs of a possible allergic reaction to ranitidine HCL. Other signs of an allergic reaction can include swelling of the face or tongue, a rash, and severe itching.
Rarely, serious side effects can occur which require urgent medical care. Patients may experience severe fatigue, a rapid or slow heartbeat, and severe abdominal pain. Dark urine, jaundice, and signs of an infection, such as a persistent cough or sore throat may also occur. Other potentially serious side effects can include hallucinations, blurred vision, and mood changes, such as agitation.
Before using ranitidine HCL, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements to their doctors. Women who are breastfeeding should avoid this drug. Those who are pregnant should not use it unless there is a greater risk of not taking it. It is also contraindicated for use by patients with kidney or liver problems, lung diseases, and blood disorders. Ranitidine HCL should usually not be used along with blood thinning medicines.