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H-2 blockers

Generic name Brand name
___ cimetidine Tagamet®
___ famotidine Pepcid®
___ ranitidine Zantac®

How does this medicine work?

H-2 blockers decrease the amount of acid the stomach makes.

How should I give it?

The medicine comes in liquid and pill forms. It is usually given twice a day. Give it at regular times to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Your child should be awake and alert when taking any medicine. Follow the checked instructions below:

___ If using famotidine in liquid form, shake well right before using. The others do not need to be shaken. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe.

___ For infants younger than 1 year, mix the medicine with a small amount of formula or breast milk and give it with a bottle nipple before a feeding. Do not add medicine to a whole bottle because if your baby does not finish it, you will not know how much of the medicine was taken.

___ For children taking the liquid form, give a small squirt of the medicine inside the cheek. To avoid choking, let your child swallow each squirt before giving more.

___ For children who cannot swallow pills:

  • Crush it between 2 spoons, inside a plastic bag, or in folded paper.
  • Mix the powder with a very small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of soft food, such as applesauce, chocolate syrup, ice cream, jelly, or yogurt. Make sure your child takes all of the mixture.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

This medicine should be given about 15 minutes before a meal, but it may be taken with food.

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If one dose is missed, give it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to the regular dosing schedule. Never give a double dose.

If a baby younger than 1 year of age vomits (throws up) a dose, do not repeat the dose.

If a child vomits within 30 minutes after receiving a dose, give it again. If the child vomits after 30 minutes, do not repeat the dose.

Call the doctor if your baby or child misses or vomits 2 doses in a row.

What are the side effects?

Most side effects are rare, and include:

  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • dizziness

When should I call the doctor?

  • chest pain
  • extreme weakness
  • rash or itching
  • sleeping problems
  • trouble breathing
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

What else do I need to know?

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care. Please bring the medicine container when your child comes to the clinic or emergency department.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill your prescriptions, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left, the pharmacist will need 2 or 3 days to contact the doctor to renew the prescription.

Check the label and expiration date before giving each dose. Ask your pharmacist what to do with outdated or unused medicines. If there is no "take-back" program:

  • Empty them into a leak-proof container.
  • Add a liquid to help pills break down.
  • Add coffee grounds, dirt, flour, kitty litter, salt, or other substance.
  • Put on the lid and throw it in the trash.

Store the liquid form of famotidine in the refrigerator. The other forms may be stored at room temperature. Keep all medicines in their original containers and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of medicine is taken, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 911.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the clinic or pharmacy.

Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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