Antacids are drugs or a type of medication that can control the acid levels found in your stomach. These are available in two forms – liquid or chewable tablets. Furthermore, they are sold in different brand names. These consist of three common ingredients: aluminium hydroxide, magnesium trisilicate and magnesium carbonate.
How Antacids Work?
These antacids work by neutralising the acid found in our stomach. Generally, these are responsible for helping you with your digestion. In addition to that, they can even help relieve you from pain and lessen the symptoms of heartburn.
Moreover, there are antacids that coat the surface of your oesophagus (gullet). They serve as a protective barrier against the stomach. These can also produce gel on your stomach’s surface to hinder any acid leaking into the oesophagus.
Conditions That Antacids Treat
Before modern medicines were discovered, antacids were already used to treat conditions. Examples of these ailments are:
• Antacids can relieve some of the symptoms triggered by ulcers in the duodenum (part of the gut) and stomach.
• These medications can reduce the symptoms of acid reflux that can give you heartburn or oesophagitis (inflammation of the gullet). These conditions are sometimes referred to as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
• Antacids also help other conditions where acids in the stomach need to be neutralised. One example – occasional bouts of dyspepsia (indigestion).
Are Antacids Harmful?
In most cases, antacids can do more harm in your system rather than cure you. The problem with antacid drugs is that they only suppress the condition and don’t get to the root of the digestive problem. As a result, the person taking this medication will still continue to experience heartburn and acid reflux.
Possible Side Effects of Antacids
Just like other medications, antacids also have side effects, and the most common ones are:
• Loose/watery stools, diarrhoea and abdominal bloating. This will form when large and partially digested food particles are split into smaller pieces.
• Poor digestion that will lead to bloating, allergies and gas.
• Increases the risk of food allergies.
• Decreases the absorption of nutrients like vitamin C, iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene and zinc.
• Increases the risk of having gastrointestinal infections.
• Electrolyte imbalance: Antacids that will be absorbed may cause acid base and electrolyte disturbances.
• These may also impair the functions of your kidney and increases the formation of kidney stones.
• Increases the chance of rickets or Osteomalacia – thinning of the bones.
Contraindications when taking Antacids:
You shouldn’t just take antacids because you feel that you need to. There are certain situations where these kinds of drugs must not be taken, examples are:
• If the antacids contain high levels of sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate, then never give these to kids.
• Avoid taking this medication if you have signs of appendicitis or inflamed bowel.
• Antacids are not given to children under six years old.
• Those who are on a low-sodium diet must check the list of the ingredients first or ask the pharmacist before taking this product. Increasing the amount of sodium can lead to hypertension.
Avoid Using Antacids
There’s actually no need to take antacids. As said earlier, these medications will only suppress the problem and not really treat the main cause. However, if you want to avoid the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn, then it’s a must that you start eating healthy foods and maintain an energetic lifestyle.