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How do I Choose the Best Antacid?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Choosing the best antacid isn't only a matter of which type works to control symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion, but also the speed of the relief. The ingredients are a critical consideration when choosing the best antacid for you because they differ greatly among products. Not all antacid medication ingredients are safe for people with certain health conditions, so if you're in doubt, it's best to ask your doctor for his or her recommendation. Different minerals are used in the various types of antacids and they tend to affect the body, including the digestive system, uniquely.

If you're easily susceptible to diarrhea, you're likely to find that antacid products containing magnesium, such as "milk of magnesia," may cause you to have more of this type of digestive upset. If constipation is more your problem, the best antacid for you probably isn't going to be a product containing aluminum. Aluminum hydroxide found in some antacids may cause the side effect of constipation in some people, especially those prone to it already. It's always wise to read antacid ingredient labels before purchasing a product.

Calcium carbonate is a common antacid ingredient that may cause severe constipation in some people; it's also known to be a causal factor in the production of kidney stones. Although the addition of calcium to an antacid does provide a good source of the essential mineral, it should only be used occasionally. Calcium carbonate-rich varieties are the best antacid products to take on a full stomach before indigestion and heartburn start. Kidney patients on dialysis may not be permitted to take these antacids. Antacids containing calcium or sodium may also cause reactions when mixed with some drugs, including aspirin and iron supplements.

Sodium bicarbonate antacids should not be taken by those with kidney or liver disease, heart failure or high blood pressure. Sodium-rich antacids contain too much salt for those on low sodium diets. Unlike calcium carbonate antacids, sodium bicarbonate versions work best on an empty or partially full stomach. Sodium bicarbonate is usually the best antacid ingredient for fast acting and strong relief of acid reflux.

Too many antacid products may also aggravate an ulcer or other condition. Even if you have no medical conditions or digestive problems, the best antacid is usually one taken only occasionally. Not every antacid is going to work to solve all heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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