Antacids; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Antacids; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

By Dr. Peter Klapper Ph.D.

We’ve all been there. The minute that heartburn begins to creep up into your throat and sizzle your esophagus. Now, before you start reaching for the antacids to find relief, it’s important to know that while they can cool things down, they also have their own risks. In this blog post, we will unveil the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to antacids.

What Are Antacids?
Antacids are over-the-counter medications that are used to neutralize excess stomach acid and provide relief from symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux and GERD. All of the mentioned stomach ailments come with their own discomfort and burning sensation in the chest, so it’s common for people to want to find quick relief.

The Good: Benefits of Antacids
As we discussed above, antacids are a quick solution to tame the stomach when the acids begin to boil. They work by raising the pH of the stomach acid, essentially making it less acidic which helps relieve symptoms that come with excess stomach acid.

Most people think of calcium carbonate products like Tums and Rolaids when they think of antacid tablets, but there are other various forms of antacids that neutralize stomach acid. Other popular over the counter medicine for acid reflux include aluminum hydroxide, found in Amphojel and magnesium hydroxide, found in Maalox.

Not only do all of the above work fast, but they’re also easily accessible at most grocery stores and pharmacies.

The Bad: Common Side Effects
Unfortunately, while antacids do a lot of good in the short-term, they can have some awful side effects for some individuals.

Those include:
Constipation: Antacids containing aluminum or calcium can lead to constipation in those who use the medication long-term.

Diarrhea: Antacids containing magnesium can have a laxative effect and cause diarrhea, especially if the antacid is being used for a lengthy period of time.

Medication Interference: Since antacids can interfere with the absorption of certain medications, it’s important to take them at least 2 hours before using other prescribed medications. If not, antacids can reduce the effectiveness.

Rebound acidity: Anytime a drug is used prolonged, there is a risk of rebound activity. With antacids, if they are overused, it may lead to a rebound effect where the stomach produces more acid to compensate for the neutralization and potentially worsen symptoms.

The Ugly: Long-Term Risks
Up to this point, we’ve learned that antacids can be great for fast relief, but prolonged use can turn into uncomfortable symptoms. However, if used for too long, some issues can take hold on your body and turn into serious issues.

Those issues include problems with the kidneys. When a person excessively uses calcium-containing antacids, it increases the risk of developing kidney stones. There is also the risk of aluminum toxicity from overusing aluminum hydroxide antacids. Aluminum interferes with the absorption of calcium and can be harmful to the nervous system and bones resulting in potential osteoporosis. Lastly, too much antacid use can disrupt the electrolyte balance in the body leading to potential issues with the heart and muscles.

And if that wasn’t ugly enough, brands of antacid tablets, such as Zantac, have been recalled in the past because of its use of cancer-causing chemicals.

So, Is It Worth It?
In the end, using antacids for a short period of time isn’t going to hurt you, but for those suffering with chronic acid reflux or GERD, it may be smart to find a different approach to experience relief that isn’t packaged with lasting risks. Luckily, there are various natural remedies out there that can treat acid reflux and help you live a more comfortable life. Not to mention, when you use our Heartburn relief, you can rest assured there are no long-term side effects. Only fast relief met with a stomach now at ease.

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