Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > H2 Blockers (Acid Reducers) for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
H2 blockers (also sometimes referred to as acid reducers or
H2 receptor antagonists) are available in nonprescription and prescription
forms. Prescription forms are stronger than the nonprescription forms.
H2 blockers are usually taken by mouth, although some can also be given
as an injection. Two doses (morning and evening) are typically recommended to
control both daytime and nighttime symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend a
single dose, taken at bedtime, for people who have difficulty remembering to
take their medicines.
H2 blockers reduce the production of
stomach acid. This makes the
stomach juices less acidic so that any stomach juice
that gets into the esophagus is less irritating. This relieves symptoms and
allows the esophagus to heal.
H2 blockers are used to treat the
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They may be
prescribed for your symptoms without any diagnostic testing if your symptoms
point to GERD.
All of the H2 blockers in this class
are about equally effective.
H2 blockers work to help symptoms of GERD. But the number of people who take H2 blockers and who have no GERD symptoms is usually less than 5 out of 10 people. That means that of the people taking H2 blockers, more than 5 out of 10 still have some GERD symptoms.1
Treatment of inflammation in
the esophagus (esophagitis) with H2 blockers usually lasts 8 to 12 weeks. If H2
blockers do not help relieve the symptoms, the doctor may recommend using a
proton pump inhibitor (acid blocker) instead.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Antacids and H2 blockers should not be taken within 1 hour of each
other, because the antacid will cause the H2 blocker to take effect more
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Kahrilas, PJ (2008). Gastroesophageal reflux disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(16): 1700–1707.
May 10, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Genesis HealthCare System | 1-800-322-4762