By Cyndra Neal
Antacids are easy to purchase over the counter – and using them is cheaper than going to the doctor for prescription medicine to help with that heartburn problem. But is it wise to simply pop an antacid pill whenever you feel that heartburn problem? There are several things to consider before taking antacids.
Firstly, while taking antacids may appear to solve the problem of acid reflux, they are really only masking the symptoms of an underlying problem. Using a band-aid solution to mask symptoms means that you still have the initial problem. How much better would it be to find out what your problem is and go for a proper cure? Then there will be no symptoms to bother you.
Secondly, while you may find that antacids give temporary relief, they can actually make the problem worse in the long run. Antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach, but this acid is necessary to deal with food and break it down. If there is not enough acid to do this, the stomach tends to produce even more – not the result you wanted.
Thirdly, when the stomach acid is neutralized, food is not properly digested. This not only leads to more indigestion, but it means that you are not getting the nutrients you need from your food. So long-term use of antacids may cause malnutrition, or it may mean that you are lacking certain nutrients you need for optimum health. You may feel tired and lacking in stamina and not know why.
Furthermore, antacids often have unpleasant side effects such as constipation or diarrhea. If they are the types that contain magnesium salts, this can build up in the body and effect kidney function. Minor side effects that are less likely to be as irritating are increased thirst, a chalky taste in the mouth and stomach cramps.
Antacids frequently interact with other medications such as antibiotics, altering their affect in the body. In fact if you take other medication, you should always check with your doctor before you take antacids. Your health-care professional should also be informed of antacid taking if he orders any medical tests, as antacids can alter or interfere with the accuracy of certain tests.
If you have severe symptoms of acid reflux antacids may not help at all. People with only mild GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) symptoms may find taking antacids helps temporarily, but if their symptoms are more debilitating, there will often be no noticeable ease at all. So really they are ingesting ingredients that can harm rather than help.
If people self-diagnose and take antacids to cure what they think is acid reflux, they could be missing a condition that is a great deal more serious such as a peptic ulcer. It is far better to get a professional diagnosis for the problem and make sure that the cure really is a cure, and not just a band-aid treatment that may mask a more serious problem.