When you routinely suffer from heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux or a sour stomach, you may investigate various medications to help relieve your symptoms. You will find many such medicines available over-the-counter and by prescription from your doctor. Many of them work in different ways to achieve the same results. Ranitidine, available both OTC and by prescription, works to prevent and treat reflux, but does not work immediately. Calcium carbonate does work quickly, but its effects tend to not last. Seek your practitioner’s advice before choosing an antacid.
Ranitidine is one of several medicines known as H2 blockers or histamine H2-receptor antagonists, MayoClinic.com notes. H2 blockers work to make your stomach produce less acid. With less acid in your stomach, less acid flows backward up to your esophageal sphincter, the part of your esophagus that closes to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus. This cuts down or eliminates acid reflux or heartburn. Ranitidine also helps to heal and prevent duodenal ulcers. People with gastrointestinal diseases, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, can also benefit from ranitidine’s effects.
Ranitidine Side Effects
Ranitidine, like other H2 blockers, may produce some serious side effects. For example, you may develop vision problems or experience symptoms normally associated with the flu such as a sore throat, a fever or headaches. Ranitidine can cause cardiovascular problems such as bradycardia, a deceleration of your heart rate, or the opposite problem, tachycardia, an acceleration of the heartbeat. You may feel pain in your chest and have trouble breathing as a result of taking ranitidine, Drugs.com notes. Seek immediate help from your medical practitioner for any of these problems. You also may get minor side effects that usually go away on their own, such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, constipation, diarrhea or sexual problems. You should contact your doctor if these side effects persist.
Calcium Carbonate Benefits
Before the advent of more recent antacid medications, calcium carbonate became a standard OTC remedy. You can take calcium carbonate in liquid or chewable forms. It offers very fast relief from indigestion, but the effects do not last that long. Calcium carbonate enters your stomach and binds with stomach acid. This essentially neutralizes the acid, making your stomach contain less acid until you expel the calcium carbonate through your intestines.
Calcium Carbonate Side Effects
Calcium carbonate, especially if you ingest a lot of it, can cause you to become constipated. It also can induce excess urination and decrease your appetite, Drugs.com notes. Your stomach may feel queasy because of the ingestion of calcium carbonate, and it may produce vomiting. Your mouth may get dry and feel like you have cotton in your mouth. In addition, you may feel excessively thirsty. None of these side effects classify as serious and should pass in a short time.
Choosing Reflux Relief
The manufacturers of ranitidine OTC products typically recommend taking the medicine prior to eating. This reduces the acid in your stomach before you ingest food and cuts down on reflux. It takes some time for ranitidine to become effective in your system, so it won't help you immediately if you take it when you feel heartburn. Calcium carbonate, however, works quickly. After you chew it or swallow the liquid, calcium carbonate quickly works to neutralize stomach acid. Drugs.com notes that calcium carbonate may reduce the effectiveness of H2 blockers, so taking the two medications together may be counterproductive. Ask your doctor for advice.
- MayoClinic.com; Histamine H2 Antagonist (Oral Route, Injection Route, Intravenous Route); July 2011
- Drugs.com: Ranitidine
- Netdoctor; Tums Assorted Fruit Antacid Tablets; January 2009
- MedlinePlus; Ranitidine; February 2009
- Drugs.com: Drug Interaction Results: Ranitidine and Calcium Carbonate
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Peptic Ulcers - Medications; July 2009