As is the case with most diseases, there are a number of ways to try to combat acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. While many doctors will require a simple lifestyle change there are others who believe intensely in the merit of antacids. The question that many have in this situation is understandable and interesting, what are antacids and how exactly do they work?
The use of an antacid is important to those suffering from acid reflux because it is indeed intended to do exactly what the name says, offset acids. When an antacid is taken it takes the same path as the food you chew does and heads off to the stomach, finally being released in the area where food is released as it becomes a concern for acid reflux. Antacids generally do a tremendous job of doing their intended goal of neutralizing the acids in the stomach that sometimes cause acid reflux, but the problem is the length of time that the antacids actually work.
Antacids are generally only functional in the stomach for a little over or under one hour’s time, which makes it seem at times that the antacid isn’t working. The antacids almost always work, but they are often not taken at the right time to actually help avoid the acid reflux. Sometimes it is best to take the antacids up to an hour before eating, others while they are eating, and still others just after they finish. The goal is finding what the good time is to take it for you as everyone has a different timetable for the antacids to reach the stomach. If it reaches before the acid does then it doesn’t do you any good.
There are three different types of antacids with magnesium, calcium, and aluminum based products. Generally, doctors will tell you that calcium based antacids like Tums or Rolaids are not good for GERD because they release gastrin, a chemical that can assist the release of acid. If you are having side effects like constipation or diarrhea it is probably due to a reaction from magnesium (causes diarrhea) or aluminum (causes constipation). Some individuals will rotate the use of these two to alleviate this problem.