The following drugs are sometimes used to treat peptic ulcers caused by either NSAIDs or H. pylori.
Many antacids are available without a prescription, and they are the first drugs recommended to relieve heartburn and mild dyspepsia. Antacids are not effective for preventing or healing ulcers, but they can help in the following ways:
- They neutralize stomach acid with various combinations of three basic compounds -- magnesium, calcium, or aluminum.
- They may protect the stomach by increasing bicarbonate and mucus secretion. (Bicarbonate is an acid-buffering substance.)
Liquid antacids are thought to work faster and more effectively than tablets, although some evidence suggests that both forms work equally well.
Basic Salts Used in Antacids. There are three basic salts used in antacids:
- Magnesium. Magnesium compounds are available in the form of magnesium carbonate, magnesium trisilicate, and, most commonly, magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia). The major side effect of these magnesium compounds is diarrhea.
- Calcium. Calcium carbonate (Tums, Titralac, and Alka-2) is a potent and rapid-acting antacid, but it can cause constipation. There have been rare cases of hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood) in people taking calcium carbonate for long periods of time. Hypercalcemia can lead to kidney failure.
- Aluminum. The most common side effect of antacids containing aluminum compounds (Amphogel, Alternagel) is constipation. Maalox and Mylanta are combinations of aluminum and magnesium, which balance the side effects of diarrhea and constipation. People who take large amounts of antacids containing aluminum may be at risk for calcium loss and osteoporosis. Long-term use also increases the risk of kidney stones. People who have recently experienced GI bleeding should not use aluminum compounds.
Review Date: 07/18/2011
Reviewed By: Reviewed by: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.