Antacid tablets

An antacid is a substance which neutralizes stomach acidity, which in turn relieves heartburn.

Medical uses

Wyeth amphojel tablets of aluminum hydroxide.

Antacids are available over the counter and are taken by mouth to quickly relieve occasional heartburn, the major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Treatment with antacids alone is symptomatic and only justified for minor symptoms.[1]

Antacids are distinct from acid-reducing drugs like H2-receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors and they do not kill the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, which causes most ulcers.[1]

Side effects

Versions with magnesium may cause diarrhea, and brands with calcium or aluminium may cause constipation and rarely, long-term use may cause kidney stones. Long term use of versions with aluminum may increase the risk for getting osteoporosis.[2]

Mechanism of action

Antacids contain alkaline ions that directly neutralize stomach gastric acid.[3]

Some well-known antacid brands

Antacids are generally a chemical salt of an alkaline ion and a counterion, as shown in the table below. The alkaline ion is generally bicarbonate but may also be hydroxide.

Product Alkaline ion Aluminium Calcium Magnesium Potassium Sodium
Alka-Seltzer bicarbonate X X
Andrews Antacid bicarbonate X
Brioschi bicarbonate X
Equate bicarbonate X X X
Maalox (liquid) bicarbonate X X
Maalox (tablet) bicarbonate X
Milk of Magnesia hydroxide X
Pepto-Bismol unknown
Pepto-Bismol Children’s bicarbonate X
Rennie (tablets) bicarbonate X X
Rolaids bicarbonate X X
Tums carbonate X
Mylanta hydroxide X X
Eno bicarbonate X
Gaviscon bicarbonate X X
Droxygel Hydroxide X X
Gelusil hydroxide X X
Quick-Eze carbonate X X


  1. ^ a b U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 23 September 2011 Consumer Summary - Treatment Options for GERD or Acid Reflux Disease: A Review of the Research for Adults
  2. ^ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Page last updated: 07 November 2014 Medline Plus: Taking Antacids
  3. ^