What does the word antacid mean


Antacids are medications that can help neutralize the acid in your stomach in order to relieve heartburn and indigestion. Antacids come in a variety of forms such as tablets, liquid suspensions, capsules, and powders. They are most commonly used to treat heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and peptic ulcers.

In this article, we’ll look at the definition of antacid, along with its different uses, side effects, and interactions.

What is an antacid?

An antacid is a substance that neutralizes stomach acids and, as the name suggests, helps to reduce some of the discomfort associated with heartburn, acid indigestion, and other forms of gastrointestinal distress. Common over-the-counter antacids contain aluminum or magnesium hydroxide and can be taken orally in the form of tablets or liquids.

Some antacids also contain simethicone, an ingredient that helps to break up gas bubbles in the stomach. In addition to neutralizing gastric acids, antacids can also act as a buffer against acid reflux by raising pH levels in the stomach so that it’s less acidic. This helps reduce your risk for indigestion and other related gastrointestinal disorders.

Though they are very effective at relieving symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion, it is important to note that antacids should not be taken on a regular basis as they can have some serious side effects such as:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Kidney stones

Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding the use of an antacid medicine.

Types of Antacids

An antacid is a type of medication taken to counter the effects of acid reflux and heartburn. The word “antacid” comes from the Greek words anti, meaning against, and acid, meaning an acid.

Different types of antacids are available over the counter, and each one has its own set of properties and uses. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of antacids available, along with their different properties and benefits:

Magnesium-based antacids

Magnesium-based antacids are available both over the counter and with a physician’s prescription. Because they counteract stomach acid quickly, these are often the preferred type of antacid taken for rapid relief from occasional heartburn or indigestion. Magnesium-based antacids should be taken as soon as possible after symptoms appear in order to obtain the best relief.

Common magnesium-based antacids include:

  • Mylanta
  • Gaviscon
  • Maalox Max Strength Liquid
  • DiovolPlus Liquigels
  • Tums E-X Strength
  • Rolaids Ultra Strength Soft Chews
  • Phazyme Maximum Strength

Magnesium hydroxide is a natural mineral salt found in certain plants. It works by neutralizing stomach acid and reducing associated pain or discomfort. In addition, some studies have found that magnesium also helps reduce gas and bloating. Taking magnesium can help reduce overall gastrointestinal symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea and nausea.

Individuals should always consult a doctor before taking any form of over the counter medication or prescription drug to ensure it is safe for them to take. It is important not to exceed recommended dosages on any medication or supplement unless advised by one’s doctor or pharmacist.

Aluminum-based antacids

Aluminum-based antacids are commonly found over-the-counter and can help to neutralize the acid in your stomach. This can help to relieve symptoms of heartburn and indigestion, especially after a heavy or spicy meal. These medications work by exchanging hydrogen ions with other substances, such as bicarbonate, to offset the acidity in your stomach.

Some common aluminum-based medications include Aluminum Hydroxide or Aluminum Carbonate which can come as plain tablets, chewable wafers or liquids. The intensity of the side effects from this type of antacid depends upon how much Aluminium is present in a given medication. If you find yourself needing an antacid more than several times a week it’s best to consult with your doctor about taking different medication for indigestion relief.

  • Other side effects may include gas, bloating or constipation which can be relieved by drinking plenty of water and eating more fiber in your diet.
  • Some aluminum-based products may also carry a risk of anemia if taken for extended periods of time due to its ability to reduce iron absorption from foods and supplements.

Calcium-based antacids

Calcium-based antacids are over-the-counter medications that contain compounds containing calcium, such as calcium carbonate. These drugs work by neutralizing acid in the stomach and can help relieve mild to moderate heartburn and other symptoms associated with GERD. Calcium carbonate is often the main ingredient in many popular antacid brands such as Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox. While most antacids provide fast relief from occasional heartburn, it may take longer for calcium-based products to take full effect. This is because calcium needs a few minutes to bind with acid in the stomach before neutralizing it.

Common side effects associated with calcium-based antacids include constipation and upset stomach; if you experience these side effects while taking these medications, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist on ways to reduce them. If these become severe or persist after taking an antacid for more than two weeks, seek medical attention immediately.

It’s also important to speak with your doctor before taking any medications to make sure they will not interact adversely with any other medications you may be taking.

Sodium bicarbonate-based antacids

Sodium bicarbonate-based antacids are one of the most common types of antacid used to relief the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. They work by neutralizing stomach acid and increasing the pH levels in your stomach, providing immediate relief from pain and discomfort. The most common over-the-counter brand of sodium bicarbonate-based antacid is baking soda. Many generic store brands also offer similar products.

These antacids often contain other effective ingredients such as magnesium hydroxide, calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide, or combination products that include several of these components. When taken as directed on the packaging, they are highly effective at easing heartburn symptoms quickly and providing relief for up to 4 hours at a time.

One thing to note about sodium bicarbonate based antacids is that they can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation with long-term use; be sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you find these occur more than occasionally when taking them. Also, these antacids can interact with certain medications including digoxin (Lanoxin) which is used to treat irregular heart rhythms; be sure to review all drug interaction warnings before taking this or any other type of medication for stomach discomfort.


Antacids are commonly used to relieve the discomfort caused by excessive stomach acid and heartburn. They work by neutralizing the acid and providing relief from symptoms such as burning, indigestion and abdominal pain.

This section will go into detail about how antacids work, as well as their potential side effects and other uses.

Heartburn relief

Antacids are a type of medication that can be used to relieve heartburn and other symptoms associated with digestive issues, including acid reflux, indigestion, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This type of medication works by neutralizing the acid that is present in the stomach.

Most antacids contain one or more types of minerals or metals, such as:

  • Calcium carbonate
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Potassium bicarbonate
  • Sodium bicarbonate

These substances react with stomach acid to form a weaker acid solution. This helps reduce the irritation that can cause heartburn and other symptoms associated with digestive issues.

Indigestion relief

Antacids are a type of medication used to relieve symptoms of indigestion and heartburn caused by excess stomach acid. Antacids work by neutralizing the acidity inside the stomach, thereby creating an environment in which digestive juices can do their job without causing discomfort or damage to the lining of the esophagus and stomach.

There are many types of antacids, both chemical-based and natural ones, and they are often used in combination with other treatments such as changing dietary habits, making lifestyle adjustments, or taking other medications.

Chemical-based antacids include

  • aluminum hydroxide (e.g., Preparation H)
  • magnesium carbonate (e.g., Citrical)
  • magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
  • calcium carbonate (Tums)
  • sodium bicarbonate (Baking soda)
  • Potassium bicarbonate, etc.

Natural antacids like slippery elm tea and chamomile tea can also be used as home remedies for indigestion relief.

The most common side effect from taking antacid medications is diarrhea or constipation due to electrolyte imbalances caused by the active ingredients present in these medications. Antacid use should be discussed with a health care provider to ensure that any potential risks associated with their use are effectively managed.

Neutralizing stomach acid

Antacids work by meaning to neutralize, or balance out, stomach acid. This helps counteract the gastric acid and improve heartburn symptoms. Each type of antacid works differently in the body, so understanding how your chosen product functions can help make informed choices about which type of antacid is better for you.

Antacids generally contain a base like aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide or calcium carbonate combined with other active ingredients such as citrates and bicarbonates. When these substances come into contact with gastric acid in the stomach, they react chemically to neutralize it into harmless particles that can be passed through the digestive system in the form of waste. Aluminum hydroxide also works to decrease activity of histamine which triggers stomach cells to produce acid.

The active ingredient calcium carbonate has been used for many years to treat indigestion and heartburn. Once it reaches your stomach, it quickly begins dissolving and neutralizing hydrochloric acid quickly before working its way back up your esophagus where it can help provide relief from burning sensations you might be experiencing. For adequate relief from heartburn and indigestion, chewable tablets are often recommended so that they can be absorbed more quickly in the gastrointestinal tract in order to get immediate relief faster than if taken whole or as a capsule or a liquid suspension form could provide relief at a slightly slower rate.

Side Effects

Antacids are medicines that work to neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from heartburn, acid indigestion, and reflux. While they are generally safe, they can have some side effects. Common side effects include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain and an upset stomach.

Let’s take a look at some other side effects associated with taking antacids:


Diarrhea is a common and potentially serious side effect of taking antacids. Although diarrhea is usually not severe, it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Some people may experience frequent episodes of diarrhea while taking antacids, while others may be affected more severely.

Diarrhea is caused by two primary factors: the increased water intake that comes with consuming antacids, and the irritation to the gastrointestinal tract caused by certain types of antacids. Most types of antacids contain aluminum or magnesium hydroxide which have an osmotic effect on the body; they draw water into the intestine causing loose stools and diarrhea. Additionally, some research suggests that long-term use of aluminum-containing antacids can lead to a condition called gastroenteropathy, which can cause persistent diarrhea.

If you’re considering taking an antacid to treat your condition, it’s important to talk with your doctor about potential side effects including diarrhea before starting treatment. Be sure to inform your doctor if you experience any symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain or bloating during treatment as these could indicate a more serious condition such as gastroenteropathy. In most cases diet changes and lifestyle modifications such as reducing stress are recommended as a first step in managing gastrointestinal discomfort without resorting to medications.


It is normal to experience occasional constipation when taking certain medications. However, if it is persistent and lasts for more than a few days, it is important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Constipation can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, medications like anti-depressants and narcotics can cause constipation due to the way they affect nerve signals in the gastrointestinal tract. Many other drugs may also act on the nerves and muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to slow down digestion, which can limit bowel movements. Other causes include changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise, suicide drugs like alcohol as well as changes in hormone levels in women during menstruation or pregnancy.

Treatments for constipation vary depending on the severity of symptoms and underlying cause. Diet modifications may include increasing fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains or taking a fiber supplement. In some cases supplemental fluids may be advisable along with laxatives or stool softeners if dietary modifications are not effective enough. It is important to talk with your doctor before trying any treatments to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Headaches are one of the most common side effects associated with medications, and coffee is no exception. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea can trigger headaches in some individuals, especially those with a history of migraine headaches.

The caffeine content of coffee can lead to jitteriness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, tension headaches and rebound headaches in some individuals. The risk of headaches increases if your body is not used to regular coffee consumption or to the amount ingested.

If you have a history of headache pain or are prone to migraines, it is important to be mindful about how much caffeinated coffee you drink each day. If coffee does trigger headache pain for you, limiting your intake may help reduce your risk for tension-type headaches or migraines. Non-caffeinated alternative choices such as green tea or herbal tea might also provide a healthier beverage option for those who wish to avoid these types of side effects from consuming caffeinated beverages.


Nausea is a common side effect of taking antacids, which are medications used to reduce stomach acid. Antacids work by neutralizing or decreasing the amount of acid in the stomach and can often be taken on an as-needed (“prn”) basis for relief from the pain and discomfort caused by too much acid in the stomach.

While taking antacids can provide temporary relief from indigestion or heartburn, frequent use of these medications is not recommended as it can lead to a number of unpleasant side effects like:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating

People who experience persistent symptoms should consult their doctor for further evaluation.


Taking antacids to alleviate heartburn or indigestion can be a helpful relief for many people. However, there are some precautions that should be taken when taking an antacid:

  • All individuals should consult their doctor or pharmacist before taking an antacid if they have certain medical conditions as certain antacids may not be safe for them.
  • Anyone taking regular medications should also consult their doctor before taking an antacid as it might interfere with their medications.

Talk to a doctor before taking antacids

If you are considering taking antacids to relieve your indigestion symptoms, it is important that you talk to a doctor first. Antacids may interact with certain medications, such as diuretics and antibiotics. Additionally, overuse of antacids may be associated with some health risks, such as altered calcium absorption or an increased risk of developing pneumonia.

Your doctor can help identify the best treatment for your symptoms if medication is necessary. This may include lifestyle changes to manage heartburn and indigestion, or alternatives to antacids, such as H2 blockers (medications that reduce the amount of acid in your stomach) or proton pump inhibitors (medications that block the production of acid).

If you do take an antacid, follow label directions carefully and take it no more than 2 hours after taking other medications. In addition to consulting with a physician, it’s important to practice good dietary habits and seek relief from stressors by following healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly. These steps can help alleviate common indigestion symptoms without taking medication.

Avoid taking antacids with other medications

When taking antacids, it is important to be aware of any potential interactions with other medications or supplements. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications interact with antacids, so always discuss your current medication list with your doctor or pharmacist before taking an antacid. The most common types of medications that can interact with antacids are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Narcotic pain relievers (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone)
  • Quinolone antibiotics (such as Cipro and Levaquin)
  • Iron supplements
  • Warfarin, a type of blood thinner.

If you are taking an antibiotic along with an antacid, it is important to separate the two by two hours to ensure optimal absorption of the antibiotic. Additionally, some people are sensitive to sandolate or aluminum-containing antacids—these people may experience symptoms such as watery stools and abdominal cramping after taking these medications. If this occurs, talk to your doctor about switching your antacid medication.

Avoid taking iron supplements at the same time as an antacid because the acid in the stomach helps break down the iron pill so it can be absorbed more easily into the bloodstream. It is a good idea to take iron pills at least one hour before or three hours after taking an antacid so that they will not interfere with each other’s absorption rate.

Lastly, if you are currently on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), you should avoid all aluminum-containing products, including many types of oral antacids as these ingredients can interfere with how your body processes warfarin in your system.

Avoid taking antacids for long periods of time

It is important to note that antacids should not be taken for prolonged periods of time without consulting a doctor. Taking large amounts of antacids can decrease the absorption of other medications, including but not limited to antibiotics, thyroid drugs, blood thinners, and multivitamins. This can in turn lead to an increased risk of health issues and side effects from these medications.

If you take antacids for more than two weeks, it’s advised to speak with a doctor about alternative options for treating your symptoms and considerations for any other medications you may also be taking.