Nonprescription Medicines and Products - Antacids and Acid Reducers
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) 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 you use aluminum-based antacids.
- Magnesium compounds (such as
Phillips' Milk of Magnesia) may cause diarrhea.
- Combination aluminum-magnesium
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.