Alka-Seltzer

Alka-Seltzer

Alka-Seltzer is a name owned by the German Bayer Corporation for a line of medications sold over the counter and taken by means of rapidly dissolving tablets that form an effervescent solution in water.

Product information

The original Alka-Seltzer was invented in 1931 and is a remedy for headache, indigestion, stomach cramps, and heartburn. Sodium bicarbonate in Alka-Seltzer also makes it effective in treating mild blood acidosis associated with allergy (see citation). Alka-Seltzer is a combination of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, C9H8O4), sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), and citric acid (C6H8O7), designed to treat pain and simultaneously neutralize excess stomach acid (the "Alka" being derived from the word "alkali"). It is provided in the form of large effervescent tablets, about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter, which are dissolved (two at a time for the usual adult dosage) in a glass of water. As the tablets dissolve, the base (bicarbonate) and the acid (citric acid) react vigorously producing carbon dioxide gas (hence the "Seltzer"), which also produces enough agitation to allow the active ingredients to dissolve slowly. The patient then ingests the resulting solution.

The product has been extensively advertised since the beginning of the mass media era in the U.S. It was formerly marketed as something of a cure-all; at one time its ads even suggested taking it for "the blahs." Subsequent regulation has taken into consideration that aspirin is a relatively powerful drug which is not tolerated by everyone and should not generally be taken at all by children or adolescents due to its linkage to Reye's syndrome; the product is no longer marketed in this fashion.

At one time the product was available in both long glass tubes and foil packets; the latter is the primary way the product is provided today, with two tablets in each packet.

As the sale of the original product has declined, Bayer HealthCare (formerly Miles Laboratories) has put the famous brand onto newer products, such as the Alka-Seltzer Plus line of remedies for the common cold. Some of the newer products are now neither effervescent nor aspirin-based. This is because the years spent building the brand through advertising are still yielding benefits; many Americans still remember catch phrases from its ads such as "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!", "Mamma mia, that's-a spicy meat-a-ball!", "Try it, you'll like it!" and "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, oh what a relief it is!"; a similar slogan in the United Kingdom referred to "plunk, plunk, fizz-ics".

Chemistry of the effervescence

The aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is not an active ingredient in the effervescent action of Alka-Seltzer, but the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid are NOT active.

C6H8O7 + 3NaHCO3 3H2O + 3CO2 + Na3C6H5O7
citric acid + baking soda water + carbon dioxide + sodium citrate

The carbon dioxide is released as a gas.

Notes

External links

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