The antacids are substances that act against heartburn. Heartburn is experienced as a sensation of pain or burning in the stomach or along the esophagus.
The stomach naturally secretes a series of acidic substances that allow the digestion of food. The walls of the stomach are prepared to resist these substances; but the esophagus is not. When the gastric acids rise towards the esophagus, the burning sensation is experienced. This phenomenon is called “gastroesophageal reflux”.
The causes of heartburn can be related to several factors:
- Consumption of carbonated drinks (sodas)
- Consumption of very spicy drinks
- Recline immediately after the meal
- Previous pathologies of the digestive system such as hiatus hernia or partial incompetence of the gastroesophageal sphincter
- Excessive consumption of food
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages
The antacid acts by counteracting heartburn, as it is an alkaline substance (base).
Some antacids are cytoprotective or protective of the gastric mucosa, both the action of digestive enzymes and the acid itself. This means that they do not aim to increase the pH (decrease the acidity) but simply to protect the walls of the digestive system from its adverse effects.
Other antacids are proton pump inhibitors: they significantly reduce the production of acid in the stomach. They are weak bases (alkaline substances). Block the enzyme ATPase, also known as proton pump, which is directly responsible for acid secretion.
Examples of brands of antiacids
- Milk of Magnesia
- Alternagel, Amphojel
- Gaviscon, Gelusil, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids
Examples of antacids
- Sodium bicarbonate : crystalline compound soluble in water.
- Magnesium hydroxide : fluid preparation of magnesium, also called “magnesium milk”. It is also used as a laxative.
- Calcium carbonate : it is a chemical compound very abundant in nature, both in inorganic matter, such as rocks, and in living beings (such as mollusks and corals). In medicine, besides as an antacid, it is used as a calcium supplement and adsorbent agent.
- Aluminum hydroxide : binds with excess acid in the stomach, so it is also used to treat ulcers. It can cause constipation.
- Sucralfate (cytoprotective) : used to counteract the symptoms of gastric hyperacidity, but also for gastric or duodenal ulcers. It is most effective when taken before meals.
- Omeprazole (proton pump inhibitor): up to 80% inhibits the secretion of hydrochloric acid.
- Lansoprazole (proton pump inhibitor): is used to treat and prevent all types of conditions associated with gastric acid and reflux: lesions, ulcers, etc.
- Esomeprazole (proton pump inhibitor): if administered daily for five days the average production of acid decreases by 90%.
- Pantoprazole (proton pump inhibitor): used for eight-week treatments.
- Rabeprazole (proton pump inhibitor): used in short-term treatments.