Calcium carbonate provides relief from heartburn

Heartburn is the uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest that occurs after eating or drinking certain foods, caused by stomach acid reflux into the oesophagus.

Read: What is heartburn?

Medications containing calcium carbonates are often prescribed to ease the discomfort of heartburn. They are highly effective and can also serve as a calcium supplement when the amount of calcium in the diet is not enough.  The active ingredient, calcium carbonate, works as an antacid, which neutralises excess acid in the stomach and relieves the discomfort caused by heartburn, indigestion, flatulence and reflux. 

Taken on an empty stomach, calcium carbonate neutralises acid for a period of 30 to 60 minutes, as the antacid quickly leaves the stomach. If taken with food, the protective effect may last for 2 or 3 hours.

While most over-the-counter antacids contain calcium carbonate, some antacids are aluminium or magnesium based – these can cause constipation or diarrhoea respectively.

Read: Losing weight may ease heartburn

What you need to know about calcium carbonate

It's available in the following forms: a tablet, a chewable tablet, a capsule and a liquid.
It’s usually taken three or four times a day. 
Do not take more or less than indicated, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. 
It should be taken with food or following meals.
Chewable tablets should be chewed thoroughly before swallowed; do not swallow them whole. 
Drink a full glass of water after taking either the regular or chewable tablets or capsules. 
Do not take calcium carbonate as an antacid for more than two weeks unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.

Possible side effects

Although the majority of people experience no side effects, some of the possible side effects associated with calcium carbonate overuse include:

Constipation, gas, and burping 
Loss of appetite
Unusual weight loss
Bone/muscle pain
Mood changes (e.g. confusion)
Increased thirst/urination
Unusual tiredness

Magnetic implant may ease chronic acid reflux

Who should not take calcium carbonate?

It’s advisable before you begin taking calcium carbonate that you inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies, as sometimes it can contain inactive ingredients (such as milk or dairy), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems.

Do not take calcium carbonate:

If you have high calcium levels (hypercalcemia)
If you have any stomach/intestinal blockages
If you suffer from kidney disease
If you have phenylketonuria (PKU) or any other condition that requires you to restrict your intake of aspartame 
(Calcium carbonate can also  interact with some medical conditions such as sarcoidosis, blocked bowels, stomach bleeding, appendicitis, heart problems and kidney stones as well as other diseases of the kidneys.)
If you have an overactive parathyroid gland
If you suffer from Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare disease which causes frequent stomach ulcers
If you are on a low phosphate diet
If you have diabetes
If you are taking heart medicines such as digoxin
If you have an intolerance to some sugars. (This medicine contains sucrose.)
(Pregnant and breastfeeding women should ask their doctor before taking this medication, as it can pass into breast milk.)
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