H2 Blockers

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Question

What are H2 blockers?

Answer

H2-receptor blockers are a group of medications that prevent the release of stomach acid and are used to treat heartburn and ulcer. They include Tagamet®, (cimetidine), Zantac® (ranitidine), Pepcid® (famotidine) and Axid® (nizatidine). These drugs are available over the counter in low doses to treat minor heartburn. They're prescribed in higher doses to treat a more severe type of heartburn called reflux disease (also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD), stomach ulcers, and intestinal ulcers. People tolerate these medicines well, reporting few side effects. The most commonly reported side effects include mild drowsiness, confusion, rash, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, and constipation. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you experience any unusual or more severe reactions to these medications.

Read an In-Depth report on GERD and heartburn in our Health Encyclopedia.

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