Antacids are oral medications that neutralize stomach acidity. They are available without a prescription.
Antacids taken regularly can neutralize acid in the esophagus and stomach and stop heartburn. Many people find that nonprescription antacids provide temporary or partial relief. An antacid combined with a foaming agent, such as alginic acid, helps some people. These compounds are believed to form a foam barrier on top of the stomach that prevents acid reflux from occurring. Long-term use of antacids, however, can cause side effects, including diarrhea, altered calcium metabolism (a change in the way the body breaks down and uses calcium), and buildup of magnesium in the body. Too much magnesium can be serious for patients with kidney disease. If you need antacids for more than three weeks, consult your doctor.
Last updated: 30-Jan-03