Taking antacidsHeartburn - antacids; Reflux - antacids; GERD - antacids
Antacids help to treat heartburn (indigestion). They work by neutralizing the stomach acid that causes heartburn.
You can buy many antacids without a prescription. Liquid forms work faster, but you may prefer tablets because they are easy to use.
All antacids work equally well, but they can cause different side effects. If you use antacids often and have problems with side effects, talk with your health care provider.
When to Use Antacids
Antacids are a good treatment for heartburn that occurs once in a while. Take antacids about 1 hour after eating or when you have heartburn. If you are taking them for symptoms at night, do not take them with food.
Antacids cannot treat more serious problems, such as appendicitis, a stomach ulcer, gallstones, or bowel problems. Talk to your provider if you have:
Appendicitis is a condition in which your appendix gets inflamed. The appendix is a small pouch attached to the large intestine.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
A peptic ulcer is an open sore or raw area in the lining of the stomach or intestine. There are two types of peptic ulcers:Gastric ulcer -- occurs in...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Gallstones are hard deposits that form inside the gallbladder. These may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Pain or symptoms that do not get better with antacids
- Symptoms every day or at night
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding in your bowel movements or darkened bowel movements
- Bloating or cramping
- Pain in your lower belly, on your side, or in your back
- Diarrhea that is severe or does not go away
- Fever with your belly pain
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Trouble swallowing
- Weight loss that you cannot explain
Call your provider if you need to use antacids on most days.
Side Effects of Antacids
You may have side effects from taking these medicines. Antacids are made with 3 basic ingredients. If you have problems, try another brand.
- Brands with magnesium may cause diarrhea.
- Brands with calcium or aluminum may cause constipation.
- Rarely, brands with calcium may cause kidney stones or other problems.
A kidney stone is a solid mass made up of tiny crystals. One or more stones can be in the kidney or ureter at the same time.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- If you take large amounts of antacids that contain aluminum, you may be at risk for calcium loss, which can lead to weak bones (osteoporosis).
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break (fracture).Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Antacids can change the way your body absorbs the other medicines you are taking. It is best to take any other medicine either 1 hour before or 4 hours after you take antacids.
Talk to your provider or pharmacist before taking antacids on a regular basis if:
- You have kidney disease, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Chronic kidney disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time. The main job of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
High blood pressure
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood to your body. Hypertension is the ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is also cal...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- You are on a low-sodium diet.
- You are already taking calcium.
- You are taking other medicines every day.
- You have had kidney stones.
Falk GW, Katzka DA. Diseases of the esophagus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 129.
Katz PO, Gerson LB, Vela MF. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(3):308-328. PMID: 23419381 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23419381/.
Prozialeck W, Kopf P. Gastrointestinal disorders and their treatment. In: Wecker L, Taylor DA, Theobald RJ, eds. Brody's Human Pharmacology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019 chap 71.
Richter JE,Vaezi MF. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 46.
Review Date: 10/31/2022
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.