Reducing Reliance on Antacids

Antacids may neutralize stomach acid but used long-term, they can also neutralize good health

Antacids shouldn’t be consumed every day

For many people, the stresses of everyday life, together with lifestyle choices, have a way of hitting them right in the stomach.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to see bottles or rolls of antacid in the workplace.

Antacids act by neutralizing excess stomach acid and are taken orally to relieve acid indigestion, heartburn and upset stomach. 
Some also help with surplus gas and even 
absorb the excess acid.

While antacids provide a fast, effective way to gain relief from unpleasant symptoms, they are not intended to be used every day unless under the direction of your doctor. In fact, if you need to use antacids on a regular basis, you should see your doctor as your symptoms may actually be a sign of an underlying problem such as a stomach ulcer, hiatus hernia, mass (growth), a mal-absorptive disorder or a heart disorder.

It’s easy to think of antacids as being a relatively harmless over-the-counter medication, but like all medications, they must be taken with care. For example, antacids are known to interact with certain prescription medications (sometimes interfering with their absorption), so it’s important to consult your physician or pharmacist before taking them. Further, if used incorrectly, antacids can cause diarrhea, constipation, headaches and cramps, among other side effects.

The bottom line is that antacids are helpful, but they can be harmful to your health if used inappropriately or for the wrong reasons. You could be masking the real problem or even make the problem worse. Reading antacid labels is also imperative as some people are allergic and/or intolerant to ingredients such as magnesium, sodium or calcium, and most antacids contain some form of these ingredients.

Stop self-medicating an ongoing stomach-acid problem. See your doctor for a proper assessment, to establish the diagnosis and determine the best treatment.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.