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Types of Antacids

As mentioned above, antacids have four types of ingredients. Within these four types, there are many different brands. Below we discuss each type, name several brands, and discuss their possible side effects.
Sodium Antacids (Alka-Seltzer®, Bromo-Seltzer®, and Others)
Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda) is perhaps the best-known of the sodium-containing antacids. It is potent and fast-acting. As its name suggests, it is high in sodium. If you're on a salt-restricted diet, and especially if the diet is intended to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), take a sodium-containing antacid only under a doctor's orders.
Calcium Antacids (Tums®, Alka-2®, Titralac™, and Others)
Antacids in the form of calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate are also potent and fast-acting. Regular or heavy doses of calcium (more than five or six times per week) can cause constipation. Heavy and extended use of this product may clog your kidneys and cut down the amount of blood they can process. Extended use of calcium antacids can also cause kidney stones.
Magnesium Antacids (Maalox®, Mylanta®, Riopan®, Gelusil®, and Others)
Magnesium salts come in many forms -- carbonate, glycinate, hydroxide, oxide, trisilicate, and aluminosilicate. Magnesium has a mild laxative effect; it can cause diarrhea. For this reason, magnesium salts are rarely used as the only active ingredients in an antacid, but are combined with aluminum, which counteracts the laxative effect. (The brand names listed above all contain magnesium-aluminum combinations.)
Like calcium, magnesium may cause kidney stones if taken for a prolonged period, especially if the kidneys are functioning improperly to begin with. A serious magnesium overload in the bloodstream (hypermagnesemia) can also cause blood pressure to drop, leading to respiratory or cardiac depression -- a potentially dangerous decrease in lung or heart function.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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