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What Are the Different Antacid Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Antacid side effects include constipation, headache, and changes in mood. Urinary frequency, loss of appetite and irregular heart beat can also occur. The main types of antacids are calcium-based, magnesium-based, and sodium bicarbonate antacids. Calcium-based antacids can have the side effect of causing blood calcium levels to rise to unsafe levels. This condition is known as hypercalcemia and may promote kidney stone formation.

Other antacid side effects can include lightheadedness, dizziness and muscle pain. The high sodium content of sodium bicarbonate antacids can cause significant swelling of the lower legs, ankles and feet, and can also increase blood pressure. Restlessness may also be an antacid side effect as might bone pain. Rarely, antacid side effects can affect the heart, causing an abnormal heart rate and rhythm. If palpitations, chest pain or shortness of breath occur after taking antacids, emergency medical treatment should be sought.

Although antacids are widely available over-the-counter, they can contribute to adverse reactions in those who have certain medical conditions, including kidney problems, hypertension and problems with the parathyroid glands. Most antacid side effects are temporary and are resolved once the the person stops taking the antacids. The health care provider needs to be notified when antacid side effects occur so he can evaluate the seriousness of the side effects.

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Antacids are typically used to treat acid reflux or heartburn. Sometimes, calcium-based antacids are administered to post-menopausal women to decrease the risk of osteoporosis and to increase their levels of serum calcium. When antacids are given for this reason, the health care provider should monitor serum calcium levels, especially when calcium supplements are co-administered with vitamin D. Taking vitamin D enhances calcium absorption in the blood stream and can further increase serum calcium levels to unhealthy values.

People should stop typically using antacids if they experience hypercalcemia, or very elevated calcium levels in the blood. When hypercalcemia occurs, the health care provider will generally recommend that the individual increase his or her fluid intake and stop taking the calcium-based antacid. Aluminum or magnesium-based antacids might be recommended as alternatives, but these should not be taken unless directed by the health care provider.

Magnesium-based antacids are effective in relieving symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, but can cause antacid side effects such as diarrhea. The health care provider should be notified when taking a magnesium-based antacid because they may not be appropriate for those who have certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications.

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