Do you often feel a burning sensation in your stomach or chest? Is nausea or pain a frequent symptom of your heartburn or indigestion?
There are over-the-counter medications that will help you manage the pain and symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Choosing the correct antacid will help treat symptoms including acid indigestion, upset stomach, heartburn caused by excessive acid, and acid reflux.
We need some gastric acid.
Gastric acid is beneficial, It helps us digest and absorb food. It also helps maintain a healthy stomach environment by killing bacteria. It is when the balance of acid is upset that it leads to a feeling of heartburn or indigestion.
Choosing the right antacid for heartburn and indigestion.
Different antacids work differently. The goal of every antacid is to help restore the PH balance of the stomach and GI tract. Some antacids relieve heartburn and indigestion by neutralizing stomach acid. Other antacids help prevent the production of excess acids.
Antacids that help neutralize gastric acid do not affect the amount of acid that is produced. They neutralize the acid that is already in your stomach enabling the mucosal lining of the stomach to create an adequate protective barrier.
These antacids contain calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, aluminum salts, or magnesium salts.
Calcium carbonate antacids.
Over-the-counter medications containing calcium carbonate work very effectively, but they are not intended for long-term use. Over-the-counter medications that contain calcium carbonate include Rolaids, Titralac, Tums, and Children’s Mylanta.
Sodium bicarbonate antacid, heartburn, and acid reflux relief.
The biggest benefit of sodium bicarbonate antacids is that they provide powerful and immediate relief. These over-the-counter antacids are also intended for short term use only. They should not be taken by anyone on a salt restricted diet or anyone with congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, cirrhosis, or kidney failure.
Alka-Seltzer is the most widely recognized sodium bicarbonate antacid.
Aluminum salt antacids.
Aluminum salt antacids are not well known or commonly used.
Magnesium salts acid nuetralizers.
Antacids made with magnesium salts work effectively, but they do not provide long term relief. They are good acid neutralizers, but tend to cause diarrhea and should not be used by patients who have Crohn’s or colitis. Patients with kidney failure should also avoid using magnesium salts.
Phillips Milk of Magnesia is the most common magnesium salt antacid.
Some over-the-counter heartburn, acid reflux, and antacid treatments combine ingredients.
A number of antacids are formulated using a combination of ingredients. These products seem to work well and have fewer side effects than single ingredient antacids.
Popular and useful antacids that are made of a combination of products include Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Rolaids with Calcium and Magnesium.
H2 blockers reduce the production of gastric acid.
H2 blockers were originally prescribed for use by people with gastric or peptic ulcers. These antacids work by blocking the creation of gastric acid. They are not good at neutralizing acid that is already present, so they may be taken in combination with acid neutralizing antacids.
Antacids that effectively block the production of gastric acids include Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid AC, and Mylanta
Proton pump inhibitors help reduce gastric acid that leads to heartburn and indigestion.
Proton pump inhibitors include medications containing esomeprazole. Esomeprazole is another effective medication which reduces gastric acid.
Nexium is an over-the-counter medication that functions as a proton pump inhibitor helping to relieve heartburn and indigestion.
Self treatment of heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach can be very effective. If, however, your symptoms do not improve or you experience bleeding or vomiting you should consult a physician.
*This information is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician.
Antacids and Acid Reducers: OTC Relief for Heartburn and Acid Reflux, Familydoctor.org
Antacids FAQ, rxlist.com
Esomeprazole (Nexium), National Institute of Health