Zantac Side Effects

July 30, 2021

Zantac is a popular prescription and over-the-counter drug used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other conditions that involve the overproduction of stomach acid. Like all medications, Zantac comes with a series of side effects that can be unpleasant to live with. However, some Zantac side effects are serious and potentially life threatening – and research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that the medication may raise your risk of certain cancers.

Common Zantac (Ranitidine) Side Effects

Most patients who take Zantac and its generic counterpart ranitidine do not experience any side effects. If they do experience side effects, the symptoms are usually mild and do not occur often. These conditions are usually treatable with rest and other mild medications.

Some of the most common Zantac side effects include the following:

  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Rash

Is Zantac Safe for Pregnant Women and Children?

Many medications are not suitable for pregnant women and children. However, Zantac is generally safe for both of these groups.


When determine whether a drug is safe for use during pregnancy, the FDA assigns medications to a category based on its impact on the mother and the developing fetus. Studies have shown that Zantac causes no harm to an infant in the womb, and is considered a category B drug by the FDA.

However, doctors do not usually recommend Zantac to pregnant women. If mild heartburn occurs infrequently, or less than three times per week, a doctor will usually suggest dietary changes and other lifestyle modifications. If these remedies do not work, doctors will usually prescribe over-the-counter antacids for the condition. If antacids are ineffective, a doctor may then prescribe Zantac.

Children and Babies

Zantac is approved for use in children aged 12 and older. Studies have shown that infants and children under 12 years old can tolerate Zantac, but it is important to speak to a doctor before administering this medication to a child. Children between one month to 16 years old may experience the same side effects as adults when taking Zantac.

However, it is important to note that no clinical studies have been conducted on Zantac use in babies less than one month old. Additionally, further research is needed to understand the long-term effects of Zantac in children. Parents should avoid giving Zantac to their children before speaking with their doctor.

Serious & Rare Side Effects of Zantac

Although side effects are generally uncommon when taking a medication like Zantac, serious complications may occur. Some Zantac patients experience issues with their heart health, central nervous system, and gastrointestinal function. Certain blood disorders and liver conditions may also occur.

If you notice any unusual symptoms or experience any of the following side effects while taking Zantac, it is important to speak to a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Weakness or severe fatigue
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Coughing up mucus
  • Blistering, peeling, and severe rashes with a headache
  • Vision problems

Central Nervous System

Some Zantac patients may develop brain-related motor conditions, such as vertigo, involuntary muscle contractions, and severe dizziness. In rare cases, patients have reported confusion, blurred vision, agitation, depression, and hallucinations.

Cardiovascular Side Effects

Zantac may affect heart health in a small number of patients. Abnormal and irregular heartbeats may occur, as well as the development of serious cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Some Zantac patients may develop constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, patients have developed pancreatitis after taking the medication.

Liver Failure and Hepatitis

In very rare cases, Zantac patients have reported instances of liver failure and hepatitis, a condition that involves liver inflammation. As a result of these side effects, some patients may develop jaundice.

Blood Disorders

Blood conditions, such as anemia or low white blood cells, have occurred in some Zantac patients. In rare cases, low platelets and low red blood cell counts have been reported in Zantac patients.

Gynecomastia, Impotence & Decreased Sex Drive

Male Zantac patients have reported decreased sex drive and impotence after taking large amounts of ranitidine over time. Additionally, male and female patients have reported breast enlargement, which is also known as gynecomastia.

How Often Do Serious Side Effects Occur?

The FDA operates the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), which allows patients to report side effects from taking certain medications. Between 1984 and July 2021, approximately 47,638 ranitidine patients submitted adverse event reports to FAERS. Out of these cases, 45,252 were deemed serious and 3,245 cases involved patient deaths.

When looking at this data, it is important to remember that Zantac side effects are self-reported to FAERS. Not all patients who experience Zantac side effects will submit a FAERS report, and it is difficult for the FDA to investigate all cases. As a result, these numbers may not be as accurate as they appear. If you are suffering from any adverse health effects after taking Zantac, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

What Are the Long Term Side Effects of Zantac?

With long-term use, some Zantac patients may develop unpleasant side effects and serious medical conditions that require extensive care. Some long-term side effects of Zantac may include the following:

  • Anemia and blood cell disorders
  • Vertigo and issues with balance
  • Dystonia, or involuntary muscle contractions
  • Meningitis and other central nervous system complications
  • Damage to liver function and potential liver damage
  • Irregular heart rate or a heart rate that is too slow or too fast

NDMA Contamination Side Effects

In September 2019, an online pharmacy called Valisure detected unsafe levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in certain batches of Zantac. NDMA is a probable human carcinogen that occurs naturally, but the Valisure investigation found that some Zantac tablets contained NDMA impurities that exceeded the safe consumption threshold. The FDA issued a recall for Zantac and ranitidine in April 2020 after investigating these findings.

NDMA impurities in Zantac may increase over time and due to improper storage conditions. If a patient takes contaminated Zantac, his or her risk for certain cancers may increase. Cancers that may be caused by NDMA include the following:

  • Liver cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

If you develop cancer after taking Zantac, you may be eligible for legal action. Through a Zantac lawsuit, you may recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact a Zantac attorney as soon as possible to discuss your eligibility and legal options.