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Antacids: Overview, Medications, and Side Effects

Not easy to find among all the antacids available to relieve your heartburn. Here is a list of their features to help you make the right choice.

Alginic acids

Antacids that contain alginic acid are the most effective for relieving gastric reflux. Products that combine this ingredient with aluminum, calcium or magnesium (eg Gaviscon) form a layer of foam on stomach contents and protect esophagus in case of reflux.

Antacids of local action

These antacids temporarily neutralize stomach acids and are effective against reflux and heartburn. They may contain one or more of the following salts: calcium, aluminum and magnesium.

Antacids that contain only calcium carbonate (eg Tums) “have a very good neutralizing power in short term,” says Diane Lamarre, pharmacist and president of Pharmacists Quebec Order . However, if they are taken several times a day or regularly, they may cause “rebound acidity”, that is, more intense burning symptoms than before taking the product.

Antacids combining aluminum and magnesium (eg Diovol Plus) have advantage of quickly relieving heartburn and reflux by neutralizing stomach acids. duration of local action antacids effectiveness varies from 2 to 4 hours, and it depends on each individual and gastric acidity produced.

H2 antagonists

There are also products that offer more lasting relief, but not immediate relief. Ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid) act directly on stomach cells to reduce amount of acid produced there. They are effective for both heartburn and reflux.

These H2 antagonists act approximately one hour after taking product and are effective between 4 and 13 hours for ranitidine, and between 10 and 12 hours for famotidine. recommended level is 75 to 150 mg (once or twice daily) for ranitidine and 10 mg (once or twice daily) for famotidine.

Ingredients to avoid
Products containing a portion of salicylate, such as bismuth subsalicylate (eg Pepto-Bismol or Stomak-Care) or acetylsalicylic acid (eg Alka-Seltzer), have limited efficacy.

They can also cause interactions with other medications, such as certain anticoagulants, antibiotics, or diabetes medications. They are also contraindicated for people under age of 18, because of increased risk , which affects brain and liver.

Always respect the dosage

Antacids are not treats, says Diane Lamarre, although some may have appearance and flavor. They must therefore be consumed according to dosage and pay attention to products concentration. There are “ordinary” formulas (15 to 30 ml in liquid form or 1 to 4 tablets) and other hyper concentrated (10 ml in liquid form or 1 or 2 tablets).

For an antacid to be truly effective, timing of the catch is important. The body needs acidity of stomach to trigger digestion. It is therefore recommended to wait at least an hour after a meal. “An important moment, however, is evening before bed, advises Diane Lamarre. They then have a stronger effect. “

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