Can Zantac deplete a man's sex drive? Find that out and more

by Todd Eisner Patient Expert

1. Can Tagamet cause mouth sores?

While there are many reported side effects of Tagamet, mouth sores is not one of them. The most common listed side effects are diarrhea, headache, gynecomastia (enlarged and painful breasts) and rash. Interestingly, Tagamet, is sometimes useful for treating canker sores. It should be noted however, that the use of Tagamet to treat canker sores is not FDA-approved.

2. Can Zantac deplete sex drive in men?

Zantac, as well as all of the other H2 receptor antagonists (Pepcid, Axid and Tagamet) has been shown to cause occasional cases of gynecomastia, impotence and loss of libido in male patients. The incidence however, did not differ from that in the general population. While it is felt that the explanation might be a stimulation of pituitary hormone by Zantac, studies have not confirmed this. If you experience loss of libido, impotence or gynecomastia while taking Zantac or any H2 receptor antagonist, you should contact your physician immediately.

3. Can Protonix affect a urine drug screen?

There have been reports of false positive tests for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in patients on Protonix, as well as all of the other proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid, Zegerid, Aciphex and Nexium). It is recommended therefore, that an alternative confirmatory method be considered to verify positive results.

4. Once Nexium wears off, I have trouble breathing and swallowing. What can I do?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause significant inflammation of the esophagus, or esophagitis. When the esophagus gets severely inflamed, it may become difficult to swallow. Additionally, when there is chronic inflammation of the esophagus, scar tissue can form resulting in a stricture, that will likely lead to trouble swallowing. Your Nexium most likely is decreasing inflammation in the esophagus and thereby making swallowing easier. Additionally, gastroesophageal reflux can cause trouble breathing by two mechanisms. The first is actual acid regurgitation up the esophagus, and down the trachea in the bronchi (aspiration) resulting in inflammation and trouble breathing. The second way is the inflamed esophagus resting against the tracheobronchial tree inducing hyperactivity of the bronchus and subsequent trouble breathing. As Nexium decreases esophageal inflammation, it can make breathing easier. If Nexium, best taken one half hour before breakfast wears off, a second dose one half hour before dinner. Alternatively, or sometimes even in addition to the second dose of Nexium, an H2 receptor antagonist such as Zantac, Pepcid, Axid or Tagamet can be taken at bedtime as well.

5. I have been taking Nexium for years for my heartburn with excellent results. Every time I stop it, my symptoms recur. I wouldn't mind taking it forever, but I don't have a drug plan and it is extremely expensive. Are there any other alternatives?

While the cost of proton pump inhibitors can vary widely depending on your location and place you shop, in general, there are most likely two less expensive options. Firstly, over the counter Prilosec OTC, which is usually as effective as Nexium, is typically one quarter the price. A second option would be generic Omeprazole, which, in some prescription plans, will be even less expensive than the Prilosec OTC. You should check with your physician to see if your condition is one in which you could switch to one of these less expensive options.

Todd Eisner
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Todd Eisner

Todd wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Digestive Health.