For occasional heartburn, you might want to take famotidine (Pepcid) at least 15 minutes before eating. But the best time to take famotidine depends on the cause of your acid reflux.

Famotidine (Pepcid) is an over-the-counter (OTC) oral medication you can use to treat occasional heartburn. It comes in several types:

  • Original Strength Pepcid AC: It contains 10 milligrams (mg) of famotidine to help control stomach acid for up to 12 hours.
  • Maximum Strength Pepcid AC: It contains 20 mg of famotidine to help control stomach acid for up to 24 hours.
  • Pepcid Complete: It contains 10 mg of famotidine and fast-acting antacid ingredients to help control stomach acid for up to 12 hours.

Famotidine belongs to a group of medications called histamine-2 (H2) blockers. H2 blockers decrease acid production in your stomach.

A healthcare professional might also prescribe a stronger dose of famotidine if you have a condition that causes chronic acid reflux or long-term heartburn. This medication is available in tablet and suspension liquid form.

How often and when you take famotidine depends on why you’re taking it.

If a healthcare professional prescribes famotidine, they’ll give you specific instructions on when and how much to take. This will depend on your condition and the severity of your symptoms.

Conditions for which a clinician might prescribe famotidine include the following:

Peptic ulcers

There are two types of peptic ulcers. Stomach (gastric) ulcers are sores that form on the stomach lining. Duodenal ulcers are sores that form in the duodenum, which connects the small intestine to the stomach.

Ulcers in these areas of the gastrointestinal tract occur due to damage from excessive acid production.

If you have a peptic ulcer, a healthcare professional may recommend taking famotidine once daily before bed. Or, they may recommend you take a smaller dose twice daily — once in the morning and once at night.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, is when stomach acid flows upward into your esophagus. These symptoms often occur at night, when you sleep or recline.

A healthcare professional will probably recommend taking famotidine twice daily to treat GERD — once at bedtime and once in the morning.

Hypersecretory conditions

Hypersecretory conditions, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, cause your stomach to produce too much acid. To treat these conditions, you may take famotidine every 6 hours (up to four times daily).

Why do people tend to take Pepcid at bedtime?

Pepcid may reduce acid production for 12 or 24 hours, depending on which type you take. Many people tend to take Pepcid at bedtime to reduce waking up in the night from acid reflux and heartburn. Avoiding late or heavy meals can also help prevent symptoms.

Was this helpful?

Famotidine takes up to an hour to start relieving symptoms. If you already have heartburn, you can get immediate relief by taking Pepcid Complete, which contains famotidine and fast-acting antacids, such as calcium carbonate (Tums) and magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia).

To prevent heartburn, you can take Pepcid twice daily — once in the morning and once at night.

To prevent occasional symptoms from a heavy or spicy meal, try taking Pepcid 15 minutes to an hour before you eat.

Avoid exceeding the recommended dosage or taking Pepcid more often than experts recommend.

Is it best to take Pepcid on an empty stomach?

Not necessarily. You can take Pepcid with food or on an empty stomach. But take it before eating to prevent heartburn from foods and drinks that give you indigestion.

For how long can I take Pepcid?

You can take Pepcid daily for up to 2 weeks. Let a healthcare professional know if your symptoms don’t improve during that time.

What should I do if I forget a dose of famotidine?

If you miss a dose of prescribed medication, take it as soon as possible.

If it’s almost time for your next regularly scheduled dose, avoid doubling your dose to make up for missing an earlier one.

Famotidine (Pepcid) can help treat heartburn and acid reflux. The best time to take it depends on why you’re taking it.

If you’re taking Pepcid to treat occasional heartburn, try taking it before a meal. You can also take it once in the morning and once at night if you have more regular heartburn.

If a healthcare professional prescribes famotidine, be sure to follow their instructions regarding how much to take, when to take it, and for how long. Your schedule will depend on the condition causing your acid reflux.