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.
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.
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.
Heartburn can often be prevented. Follow these tips to help prevent heartburn.
Maintain a reasonable weight
Avoid any foods and beverages that worsen your symptoms
Wear clothes that are loose around the waist
Eat smaller meals and try not to overeat
Get enough sleep and minimize stress
Wait three hours after eating before you lie down
Elevate the head of your bed six to eight inches
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).