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How Do I Choose the Best Antacid for Children?

A bottle of children's antacids.
An antacid.
Antacids.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
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There are many different types of antacids for children, including over-the-counter (OTC) antacids as well as stronger prescription antacids. A parent might choose an OTC antacid for children to treat minor symptoms or seek a prescription from a doctor when symptoms are persistent or severe. In either case, however, a doctor's advice can help ensure that the medication one chooses is safe for the child in question. Additionally, a parent might choose an antacid based on how willingly the child will take it and on the beneficial and adverse effects the child is likely to experience.

OTC antacids are common choices for parents who are hoping to provide relief for children with heartburn or aching stomachs. Parents often select a OTC chewable antacid for children, which may contain ingredients like calcium carbonate, aluminum and magnesium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate, and bismuth subsalicylate. These products are thought to be safe when used in moderation, but it's important to check with a doctor first to make sure that the antacids won't exacerbate any medical problems the child has. Also, children should not take any antacid that has aspirin or bismuth subsalicylate, a part of aspirin linked with Reye syndrome, a rare, but usually serious condition in children.

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It is important that a person read OTC antacid labels before giving these drugs to children. Some of them are not intended for children under six years old while others are usually not recommended for children under the age of 12. Children can be more sensitive to some of the effects of these drugs than adults, and they may prove more likely to develop side effects.

Sometimes a case of heartburn or a digestive-related problems is serious enough that a doctor's help is warranted. In such a case, a parent may take his or her child to a doctor to obtain a prescription antacid. Typically, a prescription antacid for children is more potent than an OTC choice, so it might provide more effective relief.

Among the prescription medications a doctor may prescribe for children are those described as H2 blockers. These medications help control how much acid the stomach makes. Medications referred to as proton pump inhibitors do the same thing but are usually more effective for acid control and provide relief for a longer period of time. One downside of using this type of antacid for children, however, is the fact that proton pump inhibitors can take longer to work.

Parents may also consider their child’s preferences when choosing an antacid, especially if the child will use an OTC variety. Some medications are chewable, which might please children, while others may have a more pleasant taste than others. If a child does not like the flavor of an antacid or has trouble swallowing it, treatment may become a struggle.

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