Antacids are taken to
indigestion caused by excess stomach acid.
There are several kinds of antacids. Learn what ingredients are in each type so
that you can avoid any adverse effects.
Sodium bicarbonate antacids (such as
Alka-Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer) contain baking soda. Avoid these antacids if
you have high blood pressure or are on a salt-restricted diet. Alka-Seltzer
contains aspirin, which is linked to
Reye syndrome, a rare but serious illness in
Calcium carbonate antacids (such as Tums and Alka-Mints) are
sometimes used as calcium supplements. These products may cause
Aluminum-based antacids (such as Amphojel) are less
potent and work more slowly than other products do. They may also cause
constipation. Some may cause calcium loss and should not be taken by women who are past menopause. If you have kidney problems, check with your doctor
before using aluminum-based antacids.
Magnesium compounds (such as
Phillips' Milk of Magnesia) may cause diarrhea.
antacids are less likely to cause
constipation or diarrhea than are aluminum-only or magnesium-only
antacids. Examples include Maalox, Mylanta, and Riopan. Many of these types of antacids contain simethicone to help break down gas bubbles in your stomach.
Antacids with alginic acid (such as Gaviscon) contain a foaming agent that floats on top of the stomach contents. This may help keep stomach juices from coming in contact with your esophagus.
Acid reducers decrease the amount of acid produced by the
stomach. They help relieve heartburn. There are several types of nonprescription acid reducers on the
market. Examples include H2 blockers (such as famotidine and ranitidine) and proton pump inhibitors (such as lansoprazole and omeprazole). Each has slightly different cautions for use. Read and carefully follow
the instructions included with the package.
Additional Information about CAM Therapies
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
The National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM).
CAM on PubMed, a special subset of the PubMed scientific literature database created through a partnership between NCCAM and the National Library of Medicine.
PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer DatabaseFull description of the NCI PDQ database.
Try to eliminate the cause of frequent heartburn instead of
taking antacids regularly. For more information, see the topic
Consult your doctor or
pharmacist before taking an antacid if you take other
medicines. Antacids may interfere with the absorption and action of some
prescription medicines. Also consult your doctor if you have ulcers or kidney
Do not use antacids for more than 2 weeks unless you have talked with your doctor about taking them on a long-term basis.
If you have a problem with the function of your kidneys
or liver, you should be careful with using antacids. All drugs are broken
down and removed from the body by the combined action of the liver and kidneys.
If your kidneys are not working correctly, it is possible that too
much of the drug will build up in your body.
If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before choosing an antacid. Some antacids have a lot of salt (sodium).
If you are pregnant, antacids are safe to use for heartburn symptoms. But do not use antacids that have sodium bicarbonate (such as Alka-Seltzer). They can cause fluid buildup. During pregnancy it is okay to use antacids that have calcium carbonate (such as Tums).