Cimetidine Nursing Considerations, Side Effects, and Mechanism of Action Pharmacology for Nurses
What Is Cimetidine (Tagamet)?
Cimetidine is the generic form of the brand name drug Tagamet, which is used to treat and prevent symptoms of heartburn.
The medication is commonly taken by people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Cimetidine is sometimes used to treat stress ulcers, hives, and itching. It can also be given to prevent aspiration pneumonia during anesthesia.
The medicine comes in a prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) form.
Cimetidine is an H2-blocker, which works by reducing acid in the stomach.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved this medicine in 1977. It's manufactured as Tagamet by Prestige Brands, Inc.
Cimetidine for Warts
Cimetidine is also used by some people to treat viral warts.
Some evidence suggests that cimetidine might be effective against warts because it blocks the action of histamine in the stomach and moderates the body's immune system.
However, studies investigating the drug's effectiveness against warts have been inconclusive.
Before taking cimetidine, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Extreme stomach pain or stomach ulcers
- HIV or AIDS
Also, tell your physician if you smoke or have trouble swallowing before taking cimetidine.
Don't take OTC cimetidine for longer than two weeks unless your doctor instructs you to do so.
Stop taking this medicine and call your physician if your symptoms of heartburn, acid indigestion, or a sour taste in your mouth last longer than two weeks.
Continue to take cimetidine for the recommended length of time even if you're feeling better. Stopping treatment too soon may delay the healing process.
This medicine is typically not recommended for older adults because it's not as safe as other drugs that can treat the same condition. If you're over age 65, talk to your doctor before taking cimetidine.
Cimetidine shouldn't be used in kids younger than age 12.
Pregnancy and Cimetidine
Cimetidine is not likely to harm an unborn baby.
However, tell your doctor if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant before taking this medicine.
The drug can pass into breast milk and may harm a breastfeeding baby. Don't take cimetidine if you're breastfeeding.
Cimetidine Side Effects
Common Side Effects of Cimetidine
Tell your doctor if any of the following side effects are severe or don't go away:
Serious Side Effects of Cimetidine
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects:
- Breast enlargement
- Decreased sexual ability
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that don't exist)
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Severe stomach pain or stomach pain that doesn't go away
- Signs of an allergic reaction, including itching, hives, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, or swelling of the face, mouth, lips, or tongue
Tell your doctor about all prescription, non-prescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you're taking, especially:
Cimetidine and Other Interactions
Cimetidine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Don't drive or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
Cimetidine and Alcohol
Alcohol may make drowsiness and dizziness worse.
Talk to your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking cimetidine.
Cimetidine comes as a tablet or liquid to take by mouth.
Your dose will depend on your medical condition; whether you use the prescription or OTC form; and your response to treatment.
The medicine is typically taken once a day at bedtime. It can also be taken two to four times a day with meals and at bedtime.
To prevent heartburn, take cimetidine 30 minutes before eating foods or drinks that typically cause your symptoms.
Follow the instructions on your product label carefully when taking cimetidine. Don't take more or less of the drug than is recommended.
If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.
You can get in touch with a poison control center at (800) 222-1222.
Missed Dose of Cimetidine
If you miss a dose of cimetidine, take it as soon as you remember.
However, if it's almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular schedule.
Don't double up to make up for a missed dose.
By Lynn Marks | Medically Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD
Latest Update: 2015-06-01
Copyright © 2014 Everyday Health Media, LLC
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Video: Cimetidine, ranitidine (Zantac) and other histamine 2 blocking 'antacids'
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