Drug Information

Antacids for Peptic Ulcer Disease

Antacids for Peptic Ulcer Disease


Generic Name Brand Name
aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide and simethicone Maalox, Mylanta
aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate Gaviscon
calcium carbonate Tums
calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide Rolaids

Antacids are available without a prescription in liquid, chewable tablet, chewing gum, and dissolving tablet forms to be taken by mouth.

How It Works

Antacids—aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, and magnesium hydroxide or magnesium carbonate—make stomach juices less acidic. Simethicone may help relieve gas symptoms.

Why It Is Used

Because acid reducers (H2 blockers and PPIs) do not start to work right away, antacids may be used to relieve ulcer symptoms during the first few days after a person begins taking an acid reducer. The antacid may be used until the acid reducer is able to control the symptoms.

How Well It Works

Antacids do not work as well as H2 blockers and PPIs to help ulcers heal. But they can help with ulcer symptoms, and in some cases they may help small ulcers heal.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don’t feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

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Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Bone pain.
  • Mood or mental changes.
  • Muscle pain, weakness, or twitching.
  • Problems or pain urinating.
  • Severe constipation.
  • Severe headache.
  • Swelling of wrists or ankles.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Chalky taste.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

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What To Think About

Antacids and acid reducers should not be taken within 1 hour of each another, because the antacid will slow down the effect of the acid reducers.

If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before choosing an antacid. Some antacids have a high salt (sodium) content.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don’t take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

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Women who are pregnant may also be told to avoid antacids that contain sodium. Those antacids can cause extra swelling.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Last Revised: March 6, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP – Gastroenterology