What to know

What Are Antacids & How Do They Work?

A tablet of antacids can help with heartburn pain

It could be after a meal or in the middle of the night, when that heartburn hits, you need to take an antacid or two.

The pain and discomfort associated with heartburn is unbearable. You feel like there’s a trail of fire being paved up your throat, and it burns hot. But luckily, we have many types of over-the-counter antacid tablets that work miracles in seconds.

While they are used to treat a series of conditions (heartburn, indigestion or an upset stomach), antacids main purpose is to neutralize the stomach’s acidity.

The active ingredient in antacids are alkaline ions, which are able to chemically neutralize stomach gastric acid, and in terms reducing damage and relieving pain. These ingredients could be calcium carbonate, aluminium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate and/or magnesium trisilicate.

While there are stronger and more long-term solutions to heartburn, antacids remain the most popular because of their instantaneity. Patients start to feel better within 5-10 seconds of swallowing a tablet.

When it comes to side effects, it is hard to find a drug that doesn’t have them. Although relatively safe, there is a very small risk.

Some brands of antacids contain magnesium, which has been known to cause diarrhea, and other brands contain calcium or aluminium, which can cause constipation and kidney stones if used during the long-term.

However, all adverse effects if antacids are very rare, so whenever you feel the burn, pop one and put the fire out.

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