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An antacid is any substance, generally a base, which counteracts stomach acidity. In other words, antacids are stomach acid neutralizers.
Antacids perform a neutralization reaction, i.e. they buffer gastric acid, raising the pH to reduce acidity in the stomach. When gastric hydrochloric acid reaches the nerves in the gastrointestinal mucosa, they signal pain to the central nervous system. This happens when these nerves are exposed, as in peptic ulcers. The gastric acid may also reach ulcers in the esophagus or the duodenum.
Other mechanisms may contribute, such as the effect of aluminum ions inhibiting smooth muscle cell contraction and delaying gastric emptying.
Antacids are taken by mouth to relieve heartburn, the major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid indigestion. Treatment with antacids alone is symptomatic and only justified for minor symptoms. Peptic ulcers may require H2-receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.
The utility of many combinations of antacids is not clear, although the combination of magnesium and aluminum salts may prevent alteration of bowel habits.
Problems with reduced stomach acidity
Reduced stomach acidity may result in an impaired ability to digest and absorb certain nutrients, such as iron and the B vitamins. Since the low pH of the stomach normally kills ingested bacteria, antacids increase the vulnerability to infection. It could also result in reduced bioavailability of some drugs.For example,the bioavailability of ketoconazole(antifungal),is reduced at high intragastric pH.(low acid content).
Examples of antacids (brand names may vary in different countries).
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Antacid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|