H2 Blocker Uses
H2 blockers are used to treat duodenal ulcers, gastric ulcers, and other gastrointestinal conditions. The medicines work by blocking histamine in the stomach, which reduces the amount of acid that the stomach produces. "Off-label" H2 blocker uses can include the prevention of acid-related pneumonia during surgeries and the treatment of H. pylori infections.
An Overview of H2 Blocker UsesH2 blockers, also known as H2 receptor antagonists, are medications used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. They decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Prescription H2 blockers are approved for the treatment of the following conditions:
- Duodenal ulcers
- Gastric ulcers (stomach ulcers)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and esophagitis
- Pathological hypersecretory conditions (which occur when too much stomach acid is produced), such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or systemic mastocytosis.
Not all H2 blockers are approved for all of the conditions listed above. Over-the-counter H2 blockers are approved for the following conditions in people 12 years of age and older:
- Acid indigestion
- Sour stomach.
H2 Blockers for UlcersUlcers can occur in several places in the digestive tract. One common place for an ulcer is in the duodenum (the upper part of the intestine just after the stomach). This type of ulcer is called a duodenal ulcer. Another common place to have an ulcer is the stomach. This is called a stomach ulcer or gastric ulcer. "Peptic ulcer" is a term that includes both duodenal ulcers and stomach ulcers.
There are many ulcer causes, including medications, infections, and diseases. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin or ibuprofen are a common cause of stomach ulcers. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) can also cause ulcers. Also, certain conditions that cause increased stomach acid production can be a cause of ulcers.
A few common ulcer symptoms include abdominal pain (or stomach pain) and heartburn symptoms -- both of which are especially common at night -- and loss of appetite. Symptoms of bleeding ulcers can include dizziness, vomiting blood, and blood in the stool (seen as dark-colored stools). However, some people may not have any symptoms of an ulcer.
All prescription H2 blockers are approved for use to help heal both duodenal ulcers and stomach ulcers. They are also all approved to prevent duodenal ulcers from returning once they have healed. However, only Zantac® (ranitidine) is approved to prevent gastric ulcers from returning.