Zantac vs Rolaids

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For individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other types of acid indigestion, certain medications that neutralize or decrease the production of stomach acids can help in alleviating discomfort and managing symptoms. Zantac and Rolaids are two such drugs often recommended for this purpose. They each act differently within the body but both aim to reduce symptoms associated with excessive stomach acid. Zantac is an H2 blocker which operates by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces. On the other hand, Rolaids is classified as an antacid which works by directly neutralizing existing stomach acidity.

What is Zantac?

Ranitidine (the generic name for Zantac) was a major development in the treatment of stomach and intestinal ulcers, as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Ranitidine was first approved by the FDA in 1983. It works by reducing the amount of acid produced by your stomach, thereby providing relief from symptoms such as heartburn. It is prescribed for both short-term treatment and maintenance therapy to prevent recurrence of these conditions. Unlike antacids like Rolaids which neutralize existing stomach acid, ranitidine actually decreases its production resulting in a longer-lasting effect. However, it takes more time to start working compared to immediate relief provided by antacids. While side effects are relatively rare with ranitidine use when compared with other similar drugs, it's worth noting that recent concerns about potential contamination led to its withdrawal from some markets.

What conditions is Zantac approved to treat?

Zantac is approved for the treatment of various conditions linked to excess stomach acid:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as heartburn
  • Peptic ulcer disease (PUD)
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare condition where the stomach produces too much acid.

On the other hand, Rolaids are used primarily for quick relief from symptoms including:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion

How does Zantac help with these illnesses?

Zantac aids in managing heartburn by decreasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. It achieves this by blocking histamine at the H2-receptors on certain cells that line the stomach, known as parietal cells. Parietal cells are responsible for secreting gastric acid essential for digestion, but an excess can lead to heartburn and other gastrointestinal discomforts. Histamine is a chemical that stimulates these cells to produce more acid, so when Zantac blocks its receptors, less acid is made.

Rolaids, on the other hand, neutralizes already existing stomach acid rather than reducing its production. It contains calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide – two basic compounds that react with gastric acid following ingestion, thereby nullifying it.

Both medications are used to relieve symptoms such as indigestion and heartburn linked with conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The choice between them may depend on factors like symptom severity and how quickly relief is needed.

What is Rolaids?

Rolaids is a brand name for an over-the-counter antacid that contains calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide. These ingredients work by neutralizing the acid in your stomach, providing fast-acting relief from heartburn and acid indigestion. Rolaids was first made available to consumers in 1954. Unlike Zantac (ranitidine), which belongs to a class of drugs known as H2 blockers that reduce stomach acid production, Rolaids does not inhibit the production of acid but rather works to neutralize it once it's already been produced. This means its effects can be felt more quickly, although they may not last as long as those provided by H2 blockers like Zantac. The side effect profile is also different; while dry mouth or dizziness are potential side effects with Zantac, constipation or diarrhea might occur with Rolaids use due to its active ingredients.

What conditions is Rolaids approved to treat?

Rolaids is a reliable over-the-counter medication approved for quick relief from:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid indigestion
  • Sour stomach These conditions are often associated with certain foods and drinks or the occurrence of acid reflux. Rolaids works by neutralizing stomach acid to provide immediate relief.

How does Rolaids help with these illnesses?

Rolaids is an over-the-counter medication that works by neutralizing acid in the stomach. It contains two active ingredients, calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, which rapidly act to reduce symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. Rolaids acts as a buffer system to raise the pH level in your stomach, thereby reducing acidity and providing immediate relief. This mechanism differs from Zantac—which blocks histamine at the receptors in your stomach lining responsible for producing acid—meaning Rolaids can often provide faster symptomatic relief than Zantac. Because it does not significantly affect histamine levels like Zantac does, it might be chosen when a patient needs immediate relief from acute symptoms or may be used alongside drugs like Zantac for more comprehensive symptom management.

How effective are both Zantac and Rolaids?

Both Zantac (ranitidine) and Rolaids have a long history of effectively treating symptoms related to excess stomach acid. They were approved by the FDA within a decade of each other, with ranitidine being approved in 1983 and Rolaids entering the market earlier in the 1970s. The two drugs work differently to control acid: Zantac is an H2 blocker that reduces the amount of acid your stomach produces, while Rolaids is an antacid that neutralizes existing stomach acid.

Clinical studies on these medications showed both are effective for addressing heartburn and indigestion. One study conducted in 1999 compared ranitidine against placebo demonstrating it was significantly more effective at relieving symptoms over a two week period. On another hand, numerous studies support antacids like Rolaids as first-line treatment for occasional mild-to-moderate heartburn or indigestion due its quick onset action.

In terms of safety profiles, both medications are generally well-tolerated but do come with potential side effects. With prolonged use, ranitidine may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency whereas regular high doses of calcium-based antacids like Rolaids can cause constipation or kidney stones.

A large meta-analysis from 2017 supports H2 blockers like Zantac as being more effective than antacids for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), indicating they could be preferred for chronic conditions where long-term management is required.

Yet despite their different mechanisms of action and slight differences in efficacy for certain conditions, both remain popular choices across the world today due their effectiveness at managing symptoms tied to excess stomach acid production.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Zantac typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Zantac range from 75–150 mg per dose, with a daily maximum of 300mg. Studies have indicated that a single dose is usually sufficient for relieving heartburn and indigestion in most people. Adolescents over the age of 16 may be started on one 75mg tablet when symptoms occur, not exceeding two tablets in 24 hours. If there is no response after an hour, an additional dose may be taken. In contrast to this dosage regimen, Rolaids can be taken as needed for quick relief: adults and children over the age of 12 should chew and swallow one to two tablets every four hours or as symptoms occur but should not exceed seven doses in a day.

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At what dose is Rolaids typically prescribed?

Rolaids treatment is generally started at a dosage of 2–4 tablets chewed and swallowed as symptoms occur. The dose can then be increased to up to 7 times per day, or as directed by the doctor. Each dose should be spaced out evenly throughout the day for consistent relief from heartburn or acid indigestion. Maximum dosage is determined on an individual basis, but typically does not exceed 14 tablets in a 24-hour period for adults and children over twelve years old. For children under twelve, consult with your healthcare provider before starting Rolaids treatment.

What are the most common side effects for Zantac?

Common side effects associated with the use of Zantac include:

  • Headache
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort or pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rash

On the other hand, Rolaids users may experience:

  • Excessive gas (flatulence)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Belching and taste changes
    Remember that not everyone experiences these side effects, and they often go away on their own as your body adjusts to the new medication. However, if any persist or worsen over time, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Zantac?

While both Zantac and Rolaids are used to treat heartburn, the side effects can vary significantly. For instance, with Zantac, people have reported:

  • Severe allergic reactions such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Fast or slow heart rate
  • Problems with vision
  • Chest pain, fever, feeling short of breath and coughing up green or yellow mucus
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

On the other hand, users of Rolaids may experience:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

In rare cases patients using Rolaids have experienced severe allergic reactions characterized by rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest.

Regardless of which medication you choose it is important that any unusual symptoms be immediately shared with your healthcare provider.

What are the most common side effects for Rolaids?

Common side effects associated with Rolaids include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps or upset stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased thirst Please note that many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. However, if you experience any unusual symptoms or your condition does not improve, it's important to contact a healthcare provider immediately. Remember, overuse of these types of medications can lead to long-term health issues like kidney stones and imbalance in electrolyte levels.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Rolaids?

While Rolaids are generally considered to be safe, as with any medication, they can cause certain side effects. Some of the more serious symptoms that could indicate an adverse reaction include:

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face or throat
  • Unusual mood changes and confusion
  • Severe stomach pain or constipation
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Muscle weakness, limp feeling;
  • Fast, slow, or uneven heart rate
  • Lightheadedness

If you notice any of these signs after taking Rolaids, seek medical attention immediately. The general rule is: when it comes to medications, if something feels off it's better to err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare provider promptly.

Contraindications for Zantac and Rolaids?

Both Zantac and Rolaids, along with most other antacid medications, may mask the symptoms of serious stomach conditions. If you notice your indigestion or heartburn worsening, or if it is associated with chest pain, unexplained weight loss, vomiting or black stools please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Zantac nor Rolaids should be taken if you are taking particular types of drugs such as tetracycline antibiotics (for example doxycycline), ketoconazole (an antifungal medication) or iron supplements without consulting a healthcare professional. Always inform your physician about which medications you are currently on; these medicines may require adjustments in doses to prevent harmful interactions with both Zantac and Rolaids.

How much do Zantac and Rolaids cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Zantac (150 mg) averages around $30, which works out to approximately $.50/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for a bottle containing 72 Rolaids Extra Strength tablets averages about $6. This product is typically used as needed rather than daily, but if we assume up to four tablets per day (the maximum recommended dosage), this would equate to roughly $0.33/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Zantac (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Rolaids may be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For generic versions:

  • Ranitidine hydrochloride (generic version of Zantac) costs significantly less with prices ranging from around $10-$20 for 60-tablet packs at many pharmacies.
  • Generic calcium carbonate/ magnesium hydroxide chewable tables - equivalent to Rolaids - vary considerably in price but are generally cheaper than their branded counterparts.

Remember that while both medications can relieve symptoms associated with heartburn and indigestion, they work differently and have different side effects; it's important to talk with your healthcare provider before deciding which one might be best for you based on symptom severity and frequency.

Popularity of Zantac and Rolaids

Ranitidine, under brand names such as Zantac, was prescribed to about 15 million people in the US in 2018. It accounted for just over 6% of prescriptions for acid-reducing drugs. Ranitidine is classified as a H2 blocker and it works by reducing the production of stomach acid.

Calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, better known by their brand name Rolaids, were used by an estimated 4 million Americans in the same year. These antacids work differently from ranitidine; rather than decreasing production of stomach acid they neutralize existing acid. They made up approximately 1% of over-the-counter antacid sales.

While both are effective at relieving symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion caused by excess stomach acid, their usage can depend on the specific needs and medical history of each patient. Please note that due to safety concerns Zantac (ranitidine) has been recalled from markets worldwide since April 2020.


Both Zantac (ranitidine) and Rolaids are well-established medications used in the treatment of heartburn and indigestion. They have been studied extensively, demonstrating their efficacy over placebo treatments. Both can be used separately or together, but this should be under careful consideration by a healthcare professional because they work differently to relieve symptoms.

Zantac is an H2 blocker that reduces stomach acid production, making it particularly effective for conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Conversely, Rolaids is an antacid that works quickly to neutralize existing stomach acid providing immediate relief.

Zantac is generally considered when patients need long-lasting relief from chronic conditions like GERD or peptic ulcers while Rolaids would typically be used for quick temporary relief of occasional heartburn or indigestion after meals.

Both are available in generic forms which can offer significant cost savings for those paying out-of-pocket. The onset of action differs: Zantac may take longer to start working but provides prolonged effects whereas Rolaids acts quickly but its effect doesn't last as long.

In terms of side effects, both are usually well-tolerated; however, long-term use of Zantac has been associated with certain risks due to its systemic absorption compared to Rolaids which acts locally within the stomach. As always patients must closely monitor any unusual discomforts especially when starting these medications and seek medical help immediately if severe side-effects occur.