Too much stomach acid is a painful condition. What is even worse is that it is a little difficult to treat. It even stops you from drinking your favorite coffee or soda as it can worsen your symptoms. Good thing that there are acid-reducing medications like the popular and widely used Zantac.
Zantac is an over-the-counter drug that is used to treat and prevent heartburn. It also treats stomach ulcers and even prevents them from coming back after being healed. Over 15 million prescriptions for this drug are given by doctors to patients in the United States each year. Since Sanofi first introduced it to the market, it has become among the top-selling and most widely used medications worldwide.
But in February 2020, a total of 14 pharmaceutical manufacturers issued voluntary recalls of ranitidine products or more popularly known as Zantac. This move was done in response to the product having a link to a number of types of cancer.
The link between cancer and Zantac was discovered in a conducted routine testing of the medication in the summer of 2019. The test revealed that the product contains unacceptable levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) — a cancerous chemical — when stored at a higher temperature.
As mentioned, NDMA, a compound found in Zantac, is considered a human carcinogen. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, low levels of this compound can be found in water and foods. But it does not increase the risk of cancer. However, when a person is exposed to higher NDMA levels regularly, the risk could also increase.
If you have been taking Zantac, the first thing you need to do is not to freak out. According to Ashkan Farhadi, M.D., he has been prescribing this drug for the past 30 years. Yet, he has never seen anything concerning, although one cannot really be sure. Notably, Dr. Farhadi is a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center located in Fountain Valley, California.
In addition, Dr. Farhadi pointed out that there are no reports of Zantac-related cancer cases.
However, it is worth noting that people should not take a risk. if you have this medication at home, the FDA says that it should be safely disposed of.
Moreover, Robert Weber, Pharm.D., a pharmacy administrator at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said that people should not be concerned if they have taken the drugs. Such is because, at this point, the possibility of Zantac causing cancer is still hypothetical.
If you have been taking Zantac for your heartburn, there are a few alternatives to it. In addition, it is also recommended to take a second diet in order to relieve and prevent heartburn.
Below are some of the things that you can do to treat and prevent heartburn and acid reflux:
Back then, patients with heartburn and acid reflux were requested to eliminate everything and to include the blandest foods into their diets. However there is no need for such actions now. Still, they are recommended to avoid certain food. That includes fatty and spicy foods, mint, tomatoes, coffee, garlic, onions, alcohol, chocolate, and tea.
There will be more reflux into your esophagus when your stomach is very full. For this reason, you can try “grazing.” This is a method of eating small meals more often instead of three large meals every day.
Carbonated drinks make you burp. And when you burp, the acid in your stomach goes into the esophagus. So instead of soda or sparkling water, just drink flat water.
The gravity alone helps you keep acid in your stomach whenever you are standing or sitting. For this reason, make sure to stay up for at least three hours after eating before you go to bed or take a nap.
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Pepcid has always been the go-to medicine for people who have stomach problems. All it takes is a single tablet and stomach issues are completely knocked out. What is even better is that its strength can prevent tough cases of acid reflux.
This medication works by treating heartburn that is caused by stomach sour and acid indigestion. In addition, it prevents heartburn that is bought on by taking particular food and beverages.
Moreover, Pepcid has 20 mg of Famotidine as its active ingredient. This aids in the reduction of acid in the stomach, preventing it to go up into the esophagus. Famotidine also treats conditions caused by too much production of acid in the stomach, such as the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
People aged 12 and above can take Pepcid. However, it is worth noting that it should not be taken more than twice within an hour.
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Tagamet is used to treat ulcers of the intestines and stomach. And once it is healed, this medication prevents it from coming back. It reduces the extra acid produced by the stomach, preventing serious damages to the digestive system. Additionally, by decreasing stomach acid, Tagamet relieves various symptoms including heartburn, stomach pain, persistent cough, difficulty in swallowing, and even trouble sleeping.
Just like Pepcid, you can purchase Tagamet even without a prescription. However, if you are taking it for self-treatment, it is important that you first read the package’s instructions for you to know the precautions that you should take.
For people who are taking Tagamet under a doctor’s prescription, make sure that you are carefully following your doctor’s instructions. On the other hand, people who are self-treating can take one tablet to treat stomach issues. It is also worth noting that you should not take more than two tablets in 24 hours unless a doctor has directed it.
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Esomeprazole magnesium is an oral capsule that people use to treat stomach issues, including Helicobacter pylori infections. This medication is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). For this reason, you can also use it to prevent stomach ulcers.
There are three types of esomeprazole. The first one is esomeprazole magnesium, which is what we are talking about in this article. On the other hand, the other two are esomeprazole strontium and esomeprazole sodium.
Esomeprazole magnesium and esomeprazole strontium are delayed-release capsules. Meanwhile, esomeprazole sodium comes in an IV form.
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This medication is available in two forms: a disintegrating tablet and an oral capsule. The delayed-release capsule does not release medication until the tablet passes through your stomach. As a result, the drug will not get inactivated by the acid in your stomach.
On the other hand, the oral capsule has a brand name Prevacid. You can get it as a generic drug, which will cost less. However, it is important to note some generic versions are not as strong as the brand-name drug.
Lansoprazole decreases the amount of acid in your stomach by blocking the proton pump in your stomach’s cells. Notably, the proton pump is responsible for the last step of acid production. When this is blocked, your stomach will produce less acid; thus decreasing your symptoms.
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Omeprazole is also a proton pump inhibitor like Lansoprazole. The FDA approved it as a medication for treating stomach and intestinal ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, GERD, and erosive esophagitis caused by GERD.
People can purchase omeprazole over the counter as a treatment for frequent heartburn. However, doctors do not recommend taking this medication for immediate heartburn. This is because it takes up to four days before it has its full effect.
Moreover, Omeprazole takes approximately one hour to block the production of acid in the stomach. For this reason, you will feel its effect after around two hours. Additionally, children aged 1 – 16 can take this medication when prescribed by a doctor. They also suggest taking it 30 – 60 minutes before eating a meal. If you are prescribed to take it twice a day, then you should take it before breakfast and supper.
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Your health should be something that you need to pay close attention to. For this reason, it is important that the medications you are taking do not have any serious side effects.
If you have been taking Zantac in the past, you should not worry too much as there have never been any Zantac-related cancer recorded. But make sure to choose a better and more effective alternative to it. This is to ensure that you will be able to keep preventing your symptoms after you have to treat your stomach issues caused by too much acid.
Moreover, Dr. Weber advises long-term Zantac users to talk to their doctors first before going off of it. The reason is that abruptly stopping ranitidine can cause a rebound of acid in the stomach. If this happens, your symptoms may come back.