|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate||Gaviscon|
|aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide||Maalox, Mylanta|
|calcium carbonate||Rolaids, Tums|
Antacids are available without a prescription in liquid,
chewable tablet, chewing gum, and dissolving tablet forms to be taken by mouth.
Liquid antacids may relieve symptoms faster than other forms of
How It Works
Antacids make stomach juices less acidic
(neutralize stomach acid).
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
Antacids that contain simethicone (such as Maalox
Anti-Gas or Mylanta Gas) may break down gas bubbles in your stomach. This may
help reduce burping that might push stomach acid into your esophagus.
Why It Is Used
For people with occasional, mild to
moderate symptoms of
heartburn, antacids are
often all that is needed to control the symptoms.
will recommend long-term use of antacids if they help relieve your heartburn.
Do not use antacids for more than 2 weeks unless you have talked with
your doctor about taking them on a long-term basis.
You can also take antacids to stop heartburn that happens from time to time when you are taking an acid reducer medicine (such as Prilosec).
How Well It Works
Antacids do not work the same for
everyone. For people with occasional, mild to moderate
heartburn, antacids may work very well. For people
with severe GERD, antacids alone are unlikely to help.
If you want
to take medicine only when your symptoms bother you, antacids are a good
choice. They relieve symptoms quickly. A single dose of antacid often relieves
heartburn for about an hour.
The active ingredients in antacids vary,
with the following cautions for each:
- Calcium carbonate can cause constipation in some people. It can
acid rebound in some people. Acid rebound occurs when
taking antacids causes the stomach to produce even more acid, making heartburn
- Magnesium-containing antacids can cause diarrhea. If used
too often by people who have kidney problems, antacids containing magnesium can
lead to too much magnesium in the blood.
antacids can cause constipation. If used too often by people with chronic
kidney failure, antacids containing aluminum can lead to too much aluminum in
Many antacid preparations combine active ingredients to
balance side effects. For example, antacids may contain both magnesium and
aluminum to prevent diarrhea or constipation.
See Drug Reference
for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all
What To Think About
Antacids are a simple and
inexpensive treatment for heartburn. They are often useful for treating mild
GERD or occasional heartburn. Most doctors recommend taking antacids as part of
Antacids are taken in varying doses depending on
their strength. They take effect within an hour. But their effect usually lasts
only a short time compared with other medicines for GERD.
Lifestyle changes and antacids are usually tried first to treat pregnant
women who have GERD. Antacids are safe to use for heartburn symptoms during
pregnancy. Do not use antacids that have sodium bicarbonate (such as baking soda). They can cause fluid buildup. It is okay to use antacids that have calcium carbonate (such as Tums). If lifestyle changes and antacids don't help control your symptoms,
talk to your doctor about using other medicines. Most of the time, symptoms get
better after the baby is born.
If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before you choose an antacid. Some antacids have a lot of salt (sodium).
Antacids that contain calcium
carbonate (such as Rolaids or Tums) may also help boost calcium intake in women
who are concerned about developing osteoporosis.
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