Antacids are available over the counter and are taken by mouth to quickly relieve occasional heartburn, the major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease and also indigestion. Treatment with antacids alone is symptomatic and only justified for minor symptoms.
Versions with magnesium may cause diarrhoea, and brands with calcium or aluminium may cause constipation and rarely, long-term use may cause kidney stones. Long-term use of versions with aluminium may increase the risk for getting osteoporosis.
Mechanism of action
When excessive amounts of acids are produced in the stomach the natural mucous barrier that protects the lining of the stomach can damage the esophagus in people with acid reflux. Antacids contain alkaline ions that chemically neutralize stomach gastric acid, reducing damage and relieving pain.
- Internal Clinical Guidelines Team (UK). Dyspepsia and Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease: Investigation and Management of Dyspepsia, Symptoms Suggestive of Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease, or Both. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK); 2014 Sep. PMID 25340236. Free full text
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 23 September 2011 Consumer Summary – Treatment Options for GERD or Acid Reflux Disease: A Review of the Research for Adults
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Page last updated: 07 November 2014 Medline Plus: Taking Antacids
- IFFGD. Antacids Adapted from IFFGD Publication #520 by W. Grant Thompson. Last modified on September 12, 2014
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