Taking an antacid or two to get rid of occasional heartburn pain usually poses no problems. As with almost any other type of medication though, you don't want to take them for long periods of time. It says right on the label that it's only meant for short-term use.
There are basically three different types of antacids. They include calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide, and magnesium hydroxide. Each type causes slightly different effects when taken to combat chronic heartburn pain.
You don't want there to be too little stomach acid. If there is, then your body may not be able to absorb calcium from your food. Since the bones need calcium to maintain density, bone softening is a possibility if you aren't getting enough calcium.
Antacids that contain calcium as the main ingredient help keep this from happening, but also cause a few long-term effects. If you start absorbing too much calcium, it will harm your body in various ways. Hypercalcemia will be the main concern, with renal failure being possible too. Since the kidneys are processing much more calcium, stones may develop.
These long-term effects of taking antacids aren't very likely unless you take them for a very long time. Minor effects happen more often and include constipation, increased urination, and nausea at times. You may also taste an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
The other two types of antacids can cause some of these same side effects of long-term antacid use as well. They present a few other possibilities like weight loss and loss of appetite. Frequent headaches and stomach cramps are also possible if you start using these medications for too long.
When it comes to limiting stomach acid, antacids are virtually nothing when compared to proton pump inhibitors. You definitely don't want to take these more powerful medications for longer periods. Some of the most popular brands of these medications include Prilosec and Prevacid.
Some are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription. When used long-term, you may have issues with loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nausea.
When your digestive system is working properly, you shouldn't have to deal with chronic heartburn pain. If you are dealing with it, then it's best that you consult your doctor to determine exactly what's going on.
It may be something extremely simple that you can change. A change in diet has helped some people stave off chronic heartburn pain. No matter what, you definitely don't want to rely on antacids to deal with the condition, especially after learning about the long-term effects of taking antacids.