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Your child needs to take the medicine called ranitidine (say: ra-NIH-te-deen). This information explains what ranitidine does, how to give it, and what side effects or problems your child may have when he or she takes this medicine.

What is ranitidine?

Ranitidine is a medicine that reduces the amount of acid in the stomach. It is used to treat and prevent heartburn (also known as reflux) and ulcers. It is also used to prevent damage to the stomach from certain medicines and diseases.

Ranitidine comes in tablet, liquid, and injection forms. You may also hear ranitidine called by its brand name, Zantac®.

Before giving ranitidine to your child

Tell your doctor if your child has an allergy to ranitidine.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if your child has any of the following conditions. Precautions may need to be taken with this medicine if your child has:

How should you give your child ranitidine?

Follow these instructions when you give your child ranitidine:

  • Give your child ranitidine for as long as your child's doctor or pharmacist tells you, even if your child seems better.
  • Ranitidine may be given with or without food. If ranitidine upsets your child’s stomach, giving it with food may help prevent this.
  • A liquid is also available. If your child is taking liquid ranitidine, measure the dose with the special spoon or syringe that the pharmacist gave you.
  • The tablets may also be crushed and mixed with liquid or a small amount of food immediately before giving to your child.

What should you do if your child misses a dose of ranitidine?

  • Give the missed dose as soon as you remember.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Give the next dose at the regular time.
  • Do not give your child two doses to make up for one missed dose.

How long does ranitidine take to work?

Your child may start feeling better soon after starting ranitidine. It may take several days to see the full benefit.

What are the possible side effects of ranitidine?

Your child may have some of these side effects while he or she takes ranitidine. Check with your child's doctor if your child continues to have any of these side effects and they do not go away or they bother your child:

Most of the following side effects are not common, but they may be a sign of a serious problem. Call your child's doctor right away or take your child to the Emergency Department if your child has any of these side effects:

  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • yellow skin or eyes
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • swelling of the face, lips, tongue
  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • severe rash
  • severe dizziness or fainting

What safety measures should you take when your child is using ranitidine?

Certain foods and drinks may make heartburn worse. Your child may want to avoid greasy/fried food, spicy food, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

Check with your child’s doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicines (prescription, non-prescription, herbal, or natural products).

There are some medicines that should not be taken together with ranitidine or in some cases the dose of ranitidine or the other medicine may need to be adjusted. It is important that you tell your doctor and pharmacist if your child takes any other medications including:

What other important information should you know about ranitidine?

Keep a list of all medications your child is on and show the list to the doctor or pharmacist.

Do not share your child’s medicine with others and do not give anyone else’s medicine to your child.

Make sure you always have enough ranitidine to last through weekends, holidays, and vacations. Call your pharmacy at least 2 days before your child runs out of medicine to order refills.

Keep ranitidine at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Do NOT store it in the bathroom or kitchen.

Do not keep any medicines that are out of date. Check with your pharmacist about the best way to throw away outdated or leftover medicines.

Keep ranitidine out of your child’s sight and reach and locked up in a safe place. If your child takes too much ranitidine, call the Ontario Poison Centre at one of these numbers. These calls are free.

  • Call 416-813-5900 if you live in Toronto.
  • Call 1-800-268-9017 if you live somewhere else in Ontario.
  • If you live outside of Ontario, call your local Poison Information Centre.

Disclaimer: The information in this Family Med-aid is accurate at the time of printing. It provides a summary of information about ranitidine and does not contain all possible information about this medicine. Not all side effects are listed. If you have any questions or want more information about ranitidine, speak to your healthcare provider.  

Jennifer Drynan-Arsenault, BSc, RPh, ACPR

Rita V. Kutti, BScPhm, RPh