Omeprazole vs Zantac

What is the difference between Zantac and Omeprazole for GERD?

Omeprazole and Zantac (ranitidine) work by blocking the production of gastric acid in the stomach however with different mechanisms. Studies showed that both drugs effectively treated heartburn symptoms, but omeprazole provides greater relief of heartburn symptoms during 2 to 4 weeks. Both are available as a prescription or OTC, depending on the dosage. So there are many differences between these two drugs.

Omeprazole is a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) while Zantac (ranitidine) is an H2 histamine blocker. Studies of both drugs showed significant inhibition in the production of acid in the stomach. Zantac has faster onset of action and starts working within 24 hours. Omeprazole also starts working within 24 hours, though it may take from 1 to 4 days for the full effect. Omeprazole effects are more potent and complete than Zantac’s. Over long-term use omeprazole is more effective than ranitidine.

These drugs are used to treat similar conditions, including:

  • heartburn
  • stomach upset
  • GERD
  • stomach or duodenal ulcers
  • erosive esophagitis
  • hypersecretory conditions
  • peptic ulcers due to certain types of cancer

In addition Omeprazole can be also used to treat H. pylori infection and Barrett’s esophagus.

In the treatment of Gastric and Peptic Ulcers Omeprazole is more preferable than Zantac due to more effective and long lasting acid secretion inhibition. However the Zantac is still used for its antiemetic properties as a prophylactic drug. It can also be given in a combination theraoy with NSAIDS to reduce the chances of acidity and gastric ulcers. Long term use of Omeprazole can lead to vitamine B12 deficiency as Omeprazole lowers its absorption by reducing the acidic environment. Omeprazole is especially effective in the treatment of a rare condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, the condition where stomach produces too much of acid. On the other hand Zantac is usally not prescribed in the treatment of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

Common side effects of Omeprazole include gas, constipation, nausea, vomiting and headache. Rare but severe side effects include excessive dizziness, tiredness, lightheadedness, muscle spasms, seizures, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, stomach pain, diarrhea with watery stools, fever and irregular, fast, or pounding heartbeat.

Zantac may have side effects like headache, constipation or diarrhea. Rare but severe side effects include easy bleeding or bruising, blurred vision, enlarged breasts, severe stomach, severe tiredness or abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing skin or eyes. Other severe side effects include mental or mood changes such as confusion, agitation, depression, and hallucinations, changes in heartbeat; and signs of infection such as persistent sore throat, cough and fever. Patients who stop taking either omeprazole or Zantac may experience the recurrence of regular heartburn and other symptoms of the original illness. Stoppage of omeprazole may cause acid reflux, while stoppage of Zantac may cause recurrent dyspepsia.

A 30-count package of 20 milligram Prilosec pills starts at $10.05. A 30-count package of 150 milligram Zantac tablets starts at $4.

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