The antacids are substances that act against stomach acidity. Heartburn is experienced as a burning or painful sensation in the stomach or along the esophagus. For example: sodium bicarbonate, omeprazole, sucralfate.
The stomach naturally secretes a number of acid substances that allow the digestion of food. The stomach walls are prepared to resist these substances; but the esophagus is not. When gastric acids rise into the esophagus, a burning sensation is experienced. This phenomenon is called “gastroesophageal reflux”.
The causes of heartburn can be related to various factors:
- Consumption of carbonated beverages (sodas)
- Consumption of very spicy drinks
- Lying down immediately after eating
- Previous pathologies of the digestive system such as hiatal hernia or partial incompetence of the gastroesophageal sphincter
- Excessive food consumption
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages
The antacid works by counteracting the heartburn, since it is an alkaline substance (base).
Some antacids are cytoprotectors or protectors of the gastric mucosa, both from the action of digestive enzymes and from the acid itself. This means that they do not aim to increase the pH (decrease acidity) but simply protect the walls of the digestive system from its adverse effects.
Other antacids are inhibitors of the proton pump: they significantly reduce the production of acid in the stomach. They are weak bases (alkaline substances). They block the enzyme ATPase, also known as a proton pump, which is directly responsible for acid secretion.
examples of antacids
- Sodium bicarbonate. Water soluble crystalline compound.
- Magnesium hydroxide. Fluid preparation of magnesium, also called “milk of magnesium”. It is also used as a laxative.
- Calcium carbonate. It is a very abundant chemical compound in nature, both in inorganic matter, such as rocks, and in living beings (such as molluscs and corals). In medicine, in addition to being an antacid, it is used as a calcium supplement and adsorbent agent.
- Aluminum hydroxide. It binds with excess acid in the stomach, which is why it is also used to treat ulcers. It can cause constipation.
- Sucralfate (cytoprotective). It is used to counteract the symptoms of gastric hyperacidity, but also for gastric or duodenal ulcers. It is most effective when taken before meals.
- Omeprazole (inhibitor of proton pump). It inhibits up to 80% the secretion of hydrochloric acid.
- Lansoprazole (inhibitor of proton pump). It is used to treat and prevent all kinds of conditions associated with gastric acid and reflux: injuries, ulcers, etc.
- Esomeprazole (inhibitor of proton pump). If administered daily for five days, the average acid production decreases by 90%.
- Pantoprazole (inhibitor of proton pump). It is used for eight-week treatments.
- Rabeprazole (inhibitor of proton pump). It is used in short-term treatments.