Indigestion and heart burn are common conditions in the US, with one out of every four Americans reportedly experiencing the conditions. Use of antacids to manage the symptoms is high with more than 27% Americans reportedly using antacids twice a month. Antacids form the bulk of easily available options for managing symptoms and it is not without reason. Calcium carbonate, the ionic compound offers symptomatic relief from the condition and by virtue of its fast-acting nature, is a preferred choice. Similar to all medications and OTC formulations, antacids come with their share of undesirable effects. Here is an in-depth look at side effects of tums and remedial/pre-emptive measures.

Mechanism of action and side effects of tums

The side effects of tums can be better understood when there is a deeper and better understanding of the mechanism of action of the antacids. The inorganic salt works by neutralizing the hydrochloric acid that is secreted. It also works through the cytoprotective properties of the formulation. Certain conditions are the result of the imbalance among the various natural protective factors – namely, mucus, prostaglandin secretion, pepsin, H.pylari and bicarbonate.

The restoration of the acid-base balance by the antacids effectively offers symptomatic relief from the condition. In addition to neutralizing the acid, it also increases the pH factor, and the outcome of neutralization is the formation of calcium chloride, carbon dioxide and water. Apart from the symptomatic treatment of excessive hydrochloric acid, antacids are also useful in managing extra gas formation, bloating and discomfort in the stomach or the guts.

Required dietary modifications when undergoing treatment for indigestion or acid reflux

While antacids and other medications are effective in handling the conditions, it is also necessary to make certain dietary modifications. This will help enjoy better results, in addition to preventing a worsening of the condition. For instance, individuals with the conditions are to avoid fried, fatty foods, apart from food products that are known to be acidic in nature. Lemons and tomatoes are known to have high acidic content and are to be avoided, reduced in daily dietary intake. Consumption of alcohol is also to be fully stopped or reduced considerably to manage the conditions. Additionally, individuals are also advised to cut down on chocolate and peppermint, for better results in managing the condition.

Side effects of tums : possible drug interactions

Drug interactions could be one of the possible reasons for the side effects of tums and it is necessary to know all about undesirable combinations that cause drug interactions. As a result of the mechanism of action of antacids, the absorption of other medications can be affected, and this can impact the desired medical outcome of the medication. This is a relatively simple interaction and can be resolved by altering the timing of intake of antacids. By ensuring that there is a sufficient gap between the two, it is possible to avoid this impact.

Other conditions require specialist medical advice to prevent drug interactions or side effects of tums. For instance, individuals recommended to go on a special diet with low sodium are to exercise caution or avoid the medication. Similarly, individuals on medications for increasing calcium are also to avoid antacids. Patients with kidney stones, or high blood pressure are expected to seek medical advice or change the timing of medications to avoid drug interactions. The presence of aspirin in certain formulations makes antacids unsuitable for individuals on specific medications. For instance, warfarin, a blood thinner is not to be taken alongside antacids, and patients on steroids or NSAIDs are also to avoid antacids.

The need to follow instructions

By following the right instructions, it is possible to avoid side effects of tums, as a large number of patients reportedly experience adverse effects as a result of incorrect usage. The medication is to be chewed prior to swallowing it. The maximum recommended dosage is not to be exceeded for any reason whatsoever, and it is to be used either to manage symptoms associated with heart burn or an upset stomach. In the even that the medication is used for other off-label uses, it is to be used only with specific medical advice. For instance, antacids are used during pregnancy ; learn all about the precautions that need to be followed before taking the medication.

Pregnant women : The possibility of heartburn among pregnant women exists and may require symptomatic treatment. This occurs when the pressure caused by the uterus, triggers the movement of stomach acid upwards, resulting in heart burn. However, despite the need for the medication, it is to be used with caution, as the sodium bicarbonate in antacids could have an adverse impact on the fetus. Tums is relatively safe, and women are advised to stay away from antacids that contain aspirin.

General tips to avoid side effects of tums

Individuals are expected to report certain conditions to doctors when prescribed antacids. This will help prevent side effects of tums when attributed to existing conditions. For instance, there is a possibility of patients having been sensitized to active ingredients in antacids in the past. The most common allergy reported is that of tartrazine, antacids are known to contain tartrazine. The same is to be reported, in order to avoid going through a repeat of the same problems. Similarly, individuals allergic to other food products or substances are also at risk of experiencing allergies, and need to exercise precaution. Finally, individuals with high calcium levels are also to avoid the medication, as the mechanism of action of antacids causes accumulation of calcium, which may result in unwanted effects. The best method of preventing side effects would be to inform the specialist of all medications and supplements being consumed. This should include the OTC medications and herbal formulations.

To sum up about precautions, it is essential to change the timings of intake of medications, so as to avoid impact of lesser efficacy. Pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy are expected to inform treating doctors, while individuals with a history of allergies need specific recommendations. The medication can be consumed either with food or without food, and the best practice is to ensure that it is fully chewed. This will help the ingredients to work faster. Possibly, the most common error among patients is the urge to take the medication repeatedly. In other words, antacids are one of the most easily overused medications as individuals tend to take antacids the moment any discomfort is experienced. Keeping within the limits of the medication is the first step towards preventing undesirable effects.

Symptoms that are indicative of possible side effects of tums

Patients are expected to seek medical intervention on observing symptoms that are indicative of side effects of tums. For instance, the outbreak of allergies, such as rashes, or the appearance of red and inflamed skin is an indication of adverse reactions. Other symptoms include blistering skin, itching and peeling skin that may or may not be accompanied by fever. In certain instances, the individual is likely to end up with wheezing, or a clear tightening in the throat. Patients are known to experience difficult in breathing or swallowing. Additionally, the voice may be hoarse without any particular reason, and the individual may find it difficult to speak comfortably. Discernible manifestations of side effects of tums include swelling in the face, typically on the mouth, the throat, and the tongue or lips.

In addition to the above, there is the possibility of individuals ending up with bouts of constipation that is not attributed to any other condition. The formation of gas is another condition that individuals may have to put up with, as a result of the side effects of tums. This is not frequent in occurrence, but the possibility exists. Burping is another possibility that could be experienced by individual on tums or antacids. The medication is intended to manage the symptoms associated with indigestion and by extension, there could be relief from gas and burping. However, in certain instances, gas formation and burping occur.

When to seek medical attention

As mentioned above, most of the side effects of tums are mild or moderate in nature and may resolve naturally without the need for any special treatment or medication. However, in certain exceptional circumstances, this may warrant medical intervention or emergency attention. For instance, unusual loss of weight or loss of appetite may not require emergency attention, but will require some kind of medical attention to resolve the condition, if it persists for a long period. Similarly, vomiting and nausea may be experienced only for a short period and may not require any special treatment. Only when it is persistent in nature or repetitive, will it require special medical attention or care.

Other symptoms that may require medical attention include fatigue that is not attributed to any specific condition. Individuals who experience increased thirst or an urge to urinate frequently may require suitable treatment. Sudden mood swings and changes in behavior are possibilities that could arise as a result of extended use of antacids. This is generally characterised by confusion that may or may not be accompanied by headaches. In addition to the above, there is also the possibility of patients experiencing pain in the bones or the muscles.

Serious side effects of tums require urgent attention and this can be determined by carefully observing changes. For instance, a huge change in urination volume, pattern or discomfort are possible indicators of problems in the kidneys. Similarly, certain allergic reactions are also known to turn serious in nature, if left untreated. Many allergic reactions manifest into adverse proportions and may require emergency medical care; it is therefore necessary to treat allergic reactions with the required sense of urgency. It may be necessary to change brands or formulations in the event of minor reactions. For instance, formulations that contain magnesium can result in bouts of diarrhea. Similarly, when the concentration levels  of calcium or aluminium are high, there is a possibility of experiencing constipation. Fluid retention is another possibility that is attributed to antacids with sodium bicarbonate. Antacids with aspirin are known to expose individuals to the risk of bleeding and is therefore not recommended for elderly patients.

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