There are four main categories of antacids. These are prescription medications, antacids available for general sale, chewable antacids and antacids in pills or capsules. When you mix these categories together, you end up with an almost overwhelming number of different formulations, and even more brands of antacids. You can see this simply by glancing at the antacid section of any pharmacy!
In this article we’ll review the basics of the more popular brands of antacids on the market today. Keep in mind that this is not a review of effectiveness, but simply of active ingredients, formulations and other statistics.
If you feel that your heartburn is severe, you can see your doctor. He or she may advise you to begin with generally-available antacids, or prescribe an antacid for you to try. Some of the most popular prescription proton pump inhibitors include Prevacid, Prilosec, Asiphex, Nexium, and Protonix.
Proton pump inhibitors, commonly referred to as PPI’s; inhibit the action of the acid pumps in the stomach. This class of antacids are generally considered safe to use for extended periods of time, although your doctor will advise you on how to use them for the greatest safety. If you have a family history or predisposition to osteoporosis, make sure your doctor knows this. Proton pump inhibitors reduce the acid in the stomach, which is wonderful for heartburn but bad for calcium absorption. You may need a calcium supplement in addition to your prescription antacid.
Zantac, a prescription antacid which is also available for general sale, works in a slightly different manner, and is often prescribed for patients who are trying to heal a stomach ulcer. This antacid is available in pill or syrup form when prescribed by a doctor. Prescription Zantac is more potent (higher concentration of medicine per dose) than the kind available for general sale.
Antacids in the form of pills or capsules are widely available without a prescription. The most common brands of antacids on store shelves today include Tums and Rolaids, which are chewable tablets. These are very popular because they can easily be carried in a purse or pocket, they have a pleasant taste and they are extremely available, even at gas stations.
A time-honored brand of acid reducer is Alka-Seltzer. This is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, anhydrous citric acid and potassium bicarbonate, among other ingredients. Some formulations contain aspirin, and others are formulated to help with sinus trouble and various other ailments. Tablets are dropped into a glass of water, where they effervesce and bubble away. The water is drunk only after the entire tablet is dissolved. Many people rely on these fizzy tablets and find that they work wonderfully for occasional heartburn.
Maalox and Mylanta are two popular liquid brands of antacids, which neutralize acid and coat the stomach for immediate and soothing relief. Gaviscon is another liquid, also available as chewables, which acts by creating a foam barrier in the stomach which blocks stomach acid from irritating the esophagus and causing heart
Several prescription antacid medications, previously only available through a doctor, have been made available for general sale. The most popular of these include Pepcid OTC and Prilosec OTC. Read more about OTC Proton Pump Inhibitors.
Nearly all brands of antacids have generic, store-brand copies which contain the same ingredients. Ask your pharmacist what he recommends when purchasing generics.
Always consult your doctor for heartburn which does not respond to treatment or which lasts longer than a few days.