Health Mart Pharmacies: Antacids

Health Mart pharmacist Christine Jacobson walks down the drug store aisle and talks about four major types of antacid and what you should know about each.

The conditions that require using an antacid include heartburn, stomach upset, dyspepsia (upper stomach upset). Here are four groups of antacids and what they do:

1) Traditional Antacids: Tums, Rolaids, Maalox

i. Use calcium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide

ii. Works just like adding baking soda to vinegar (alkaline antacid neutralizes strong stomach acid

iii. Releases carbon dioxide, causes you to burp

iv. Take when you have occasional heartburn (they act quickly and for a short time)

2) Bismuth Subsalicylates: Pepto Bismol, Kaeopectate (used for over 100 years)

i. Helps buffer stomach acids

ii. Coats surfaces inside stomach

iii. Anti-inflammatory

iv. May kill some bacteria

v. Good for relief of heartburn and controls peptic ulcer symptoms

vi. May have adverse reactions with some drugs, check with physician

3) H2 Blockers: Pepcid AC , Zantac 75

i. Takes longer to work, over an hour

ii. Talk to doctor if using more than two weeks

iii. Blocks histamine that signals body to make more acid

iv. Should be taken by people who have GERG and have heartburn more than twice a week

v. Also for people with gastric reflux

vi. Talk to doctor if talking for long periods of time

4) Proton Pump Inhibitors: Prilosec

i. Take up to 5 days before they work

ii. Becoming more popular to manage gastric reflux systems

iii. Helps reduce acid production in stomach

iv. Prevent cells that produce stomach acid from secreting acid

v. May hinder calcium absorption

vi. Best for long-term management of acid reflux, peptic ulcers dyspepsia, stress gastritis

5) Other Options: Better diet, herbal

While it’s good to take medication when needed, you should understand how drugs work in your body and understand the risks and benefits.

Portions of this article from Jody Barnes at

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