Famotidine is a prescription used for the treatment of peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain. The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Peptic ulcers signs and symptoms may include:

  • Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
  • Burning stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Nausea

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This backwash can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. Common signs and symptoms of the disease may include:

  • Chest pain
  • A burning sensation in your chest usually after eating which might get worst at night
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:

  • Laryngitis
  • Chronic cough
  • Disrupted sleep
  • New or worsening asthma

Famotidine is in the class of medications called histamine-2 (H2) blockers. Histamine is a naturally-occurring chemical that stimulates cells in the stomach to produce acid. H2 blockers inhibit the action of histamine on the cells, thus reducing the production of acid. This is supplied as a tablet for oral use. Each tablet contains Famotidine as an active ingredient. It is a white to pale yellow crystalline compound that is slightly soluble in methanol. It is also very slightly soluble in water and practically insoluble in ethanol. Famotidine is available in the dosage forms of 20 mg and 40 mg. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication.

How does Famotidine work?

Famotidine works by blocking histamine H2 receptors that are found in the cells in the stomach lining. Natural body chemical called histamine normally binds to this receptor that causes the cells to produce stomach acid. By blocking the H2 receptors, Famotidine prevents histamine from binding to them. This stops the cells from producing stomach acid. Stomach acid is produced in the stomach as a normal part of the digestive process. Usually, the linings of the stomach and duodenum are protected by a layer that resists acid attack. However, if this layer is damaged or large amounts of stomach acid are formed, an ulcer can develop on the lining of the stomach or duodenum. This is called a peptic ulcer.

In GERD, this medication lessens the production of stomach acid. It stops excess acid flowing back into the food pipe and can be used to relieve heartburn symptoms associated with acid reflux. It also allows the esophagus to heal in reflux esophagitis. By decreasing the amount of acid in the stomach and duodenum, this drug relieves the symptoms of indigestion.

How to use Famotidine?

Famotidine is to be taken by mouth. This is usually taken once or twice a day or as directed by your doctor. If you are taking this once a day, it is usually taken at bedtime. You may take each dose with or without a meal. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, chew, or crush it. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way each day. The recommended dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to the treatment. You should take the right dose, not more or less.  

Do not stop taking this medication without the consent of your doctor. It may cause another complication or may worsen your current condition. For the best benefit from this product, take it regularly. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do double the dose to make up for the missed dose. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve.  

What are the side effects of Famotidine?

Common side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting

Stop using this medication and call your doctor right away if these occur:

  • Seizure
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Lack of energy
  • Fats or pounding heartbeats
  • Sudden dizziness like you might pass out
  • Unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness especially if you have a fever
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Dark-colored urine

Call for medical help if there are any signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • Hives or itching
  • Trouble or difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face, lips, throat, or tongue

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before taking Famotidine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to it. This may not be recommended for use if you have a history of an allergic reaction. Tell as well if you have any allergies. This drug may contain an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. 
  • This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol can make you dizzier. Do not use any machinery or do anything that needs your alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications such as vitamins or herbal supplements.
  • Before starting this treatment, discuss with your doctor about fertility. Your ability to become pregnant or father a child may be affected.
  • Consult your doctor first if you are breastfeeding women.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a medical history of kidney problems, immune system problems, or other stomach problems.
  • Do not use this to treat children younger than 12 unless directed by your doctor.
  • Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug.
  • You should not share this with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours.
  • Keep this at room temperature far from heat and moisture.