Antacids are a medicine used to treat heartburn and indigestion. You can get antacids over-the-counter without a prescription. Antacids work quickly to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach to relieve symptoms. Antacids don’t treat the underlying causes of heartburn and indigestion.
Antacids are a medicine that relieves heartburn and indigestion by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. Antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach by stopping an enzyme that creates acid to break down food for digestion (pepsin).
You can purchase antacids over-the-counter without a prescription.
There are two types of antacids: liquid and chewable tablets.
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Antacids relieve symptoms that cause heartburn and indigestion including:
Popular brand names for antacids include:
The Food and Drug Administration approved antacids for treating mild cases of heartburn and indigestion. A mild case refers to heartburn that happens occasionally or every once in a while rather than every day.
Antacids also help combat symptoms of:
Antacids work quickly to relieve symptoms for a few hours. Antacids don't treat underlying medical conditions that cause symptoms.
Most people can take an antacid safely. Ask your healthcare provider if it's safe to start taking antacids if you:
Antacids come in two forms:
Liquid antacid works more quickly than chewable tablets to alleviate symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
The dosage for antacids vary and is dependent on your age and reason for use. Dosing also varies by manufacturer. Be sure to follow the instructions outlined on the packaging.
The active ingredients in antacids can vary depending on the type and brand. Some common ingredients are aluminum, calcium, magnesium and salts (sodium), specifically:
You should take antacids when you have symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. You can also take an antacid one hour after eating, which is when you might experience symptoms of heartburn.
Always follow instructions on how much and how frequently you should take antacids according to the label of each antacid brand, since they may vary.
If you experience symptoms at night and take an antacid before bed, don’t eat food with an antacid at that time.
If you take antacids regularly, contact your healthcare provider about your symptoms to examine any underlying causes of frequent heartburn.
Complications after taking an antacid mostly affect infants or people over the age of 65. Side effects could include:
Serious side effects could include:
Don't take antacids frequently. If you experience symptoms of heartburn or indigestion daily, reach out to your healthcare provider to look into the cause of your symptoms.
Antacids can interact with how other medicines absorb into your body. Before taking antacids, contact your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you. You should take other medicines one hour before or at least four hours after taking an antacid to prevent interactions.
Yes, you can drink alcohol and take an antacid, but alcohol might make your symptoms worse and further irritate your stomach.
If you plan on taking antacids to treat heartburn and indigestion, talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and how often you have symptoms. Your provider might offer tests to further diagnose what is causing your discomfort and will decide whether or not you have an underlying condition.
It’s usually safe to take antacids if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. But, you should always check with your healthcare provider first. It is also important to check the ingredients in the antacid you plan on taking. Ingredients like aluminum salts and calcium are safe to consume if you are pregnant but don’t take more than the daily recommended dosage.
Some ingredients, like calcium, that are found in antacids can pass into breastmilk. It is safe to take antacids if you are breastfeeding (chestfeeding) as long as you don’t exceed the daily recommended dosage for antacids.
No, antacids aren’t addictive. If you’re taking antacids regularly to treat your symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider. Antacids aren’t a cure for any underlying conditions that cause your symptoms.
You should only take antacids to treat symptoms at the frequency identified on the label of the medicine. If you miss a dose, don’t panic. You can take an antacid at any time as long as it doesn’t interfere with any other medicines you are currently taking.
Several types of medicines treat heartburn or indigestion but are not antacids because the ingredients work in different ways than those of antacids. Common medicines that are not antacids include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Antacids are a great source of relief from symptoms of heartburn and indigestion, especially if you just ate hot wings or spicy food. Always follow dosage instructions on the label and talk with your healthcare provider before taking antacids to see if they will interfere with any medicines that you’re currently taking.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/20/2022.
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