Ranitidine, the heartburn medication often sold under the brand name Zantac, has been recalled by several drug companies after Health Canada announced it was assessing a possible danger.
The drug may contain unhealthy levels of an impurity called N-nitrosodimethyl-amine. NDMA, as it’s more commonly known, is a compound that’s been classified as a probable carcinogen.
Health Canada stresses that patients that have been prescribed ranitidine should not stop taking it without first consulting their doctor. “The risk of not treating the condition may be greater than the risk related to NDMA exposure,” the agency says.
Zantac, which reduces the amount of acid in the stomach, is often taken to treat morning sickness, ulcers, and other stomach and esophageal problems. In syrup form, it’s also sometimes prescribed to babies with a pediatric version of acid reflux.
Doctors still don’t know why exactly so many pregnant people experience nausea, but it’s a common side effect that usually starts between weeks six and eight of pregnancy. It’s estimated that about one per cent of pregnant women get very severe morning sickness.
So, what should you do instead?
Unfortunately, there aren’t a huge number of drugs that have been proven to both relieve nausea and remain safe for both the person taking it and their baby. Last year, researchers said pyridoxine-doxylamine, which is usually sold under the brand name Diclectin and was the most commonly-prescribed medication for morning sickness, may not actually be effective.
Despite how common it is, many have argued that morning sickness hasn’t been prioritized by medical researchers. “The condition is under-appreciated and under-researched,” Dr. Roger Gadsby, a former GP and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Warwick, told The Telegraph.
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Although it may be cold comfort, there are some things that can help with morning sickness:
- Watch what you eat. Bland foods (rice, applesauce, toast) and foods that are high in protein and low in fat (chicken, eggs, beans) will be easier to digest, according to Mayo Clinic. Foods that are greasy, spicy or fatty will be harder. Ginger has also been known to help.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water, and try to drink between meals rather than during meals. Ice chips can help if you don’t want to drink water, Parents suggests.
- Exercise. Even a gentle walk can be helpful.
- Figure out your triggers. For many pregnant people, there are specific foods — or even smells — that make nausea worse. Try to keep track of what makes you feel bad, so you can avoid it.
- Be careful with prenatal vitamins. Some women don’t feel great after taking vitamins, so consider taking them with a snack or before bed.
- Acupuncture and aromatherapy might help, if that’s your thing.