According to Heartburn.com, antacid tablets work by weakening the acid in the stomach to prevent and relieve heartburn symptoms. Antacids contain ingredients, such as calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, that quickly neutralize stomach acids. Antacids work best when taken on a full stomach as the stomach contents prolong the effectiveness of the medication.
According to MedlinePlus, antacids are not an effective treatment for stomach ulcers, bowel conditions, appendicitis or gallstones. It's important for individuals with heartburn and stomach discomfort to consult with a physician if their symptoms don't improve after taking antacids or if symptoms occur on a daily or nightly basis. MedlinePlus also states that over-consumption of antacids that contain aluminum can cause calcium loss, which in turn can lead to osteoporosis.
WebMD explains that there are several types of antacids that contain different ingredients yet provide the same desired effect. It's important for individuals with certain health conditions to understand the specific ingredients in each type of antacid in order to prevent uncomfortable side effects. Individuals with high blood pressure or individuals who are on low-sodium diets need to avoid antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Antacids that contain magnesium cause diarrhea, while antacids that contain a combination of aluminum and magnesium work to minimize gas bubbles in the stomach and do not cause diarrhea.