What Are the Different Types of Antacid Tablets?

Cindy Quarters

Antacids are medicines that are taken orally to help relieve sour stomach, heartburn, or acid indigestion. They are available without a prescription, but in some cases a physician may have special dosing or usage instructions. The different types of antacids include calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide, and dihydroxyaluminum sodium carbonate. These are sold under a variety of brand names.

An antacid.
An antacid.

Antacid tablets are available as four different physical types. Plain antacid tablets are meant to be swallowed with water or other liquid. Effervescent tablets are available that will bubble and dissolve in water, and chewable tablets are meant to be chewed thoroughly before swallowing. The fourth type of antacid tablet is extended release. These are swallowed whole, like plain tablets, but are manufactured in such a way that the medication is released slowly, over time, providing long-term relief of symptoms.

Antacids can be taken to help relieve sour stomach.
Antacids can be taken to help relieve sour stomach.

The same compounds used in antacid tablets are used to provide other benefits as well. Aluminum hydroxide is sometimes combined with a diet low in phosphates to treat hyperphosphatemia, a condition where there is too much phosphate in the blood. Magnesium hydroxide is often used as a laxative. The dosage must be much higher than is used when magnesium hydroxide is used as an antacid, and the laxative is often given in liquid and not tablet form.

The same medications available in tablets can also be purchased in other forms as well. These forms are plain powder, effervescent powder, powder for use in a suspension, wafers, liquid, granules, capsules, in a suspension or in a solution. It is helpful for people to have different methods to choose from, because one type of medicine or a medicine that is prepared in a certain way does not always resolve the problem. It also allows for personal preferences. Not all types of medication are available in all of the various forms.

The different formulations for antacids allow them to provide a range of benefits for a variety of symptoms. Some have simethicone added to them, to provide relief from excess gas. Others do not, as gas relief is not always needed. The different formulations can also potentially cause problems, as many antacid tablets contain a great deal of sodium and should not be taken by anyone who requires a low-sodium diet. For the most part, though, antacids are a safe way to get relief from stomach problems and are not likely to have any notable side effects.

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Discussion Comments


@Honeybees: Can you provide an example of an extended release antacid? I would love to find one. I called the pharmacy to ask but they never heard of that.


My poor brother suffers from heartburn every time that he eats. He has to carry around chewable antacids wherever he goes, because his heartburn is particularly painful.

He keeps a jar of them in his truck and carries a few in his lunch box to work. We also have a jar at home.

He likes the berry-flavored kind. I was reluctant to try one, but I did one night when I had heartburn, and they are not bad at all. The original flavor is not good, but the berry flavor takes away the yucky chalkiness found in the other ones.


I have experienced heartburn in the past, but I’m glad I don’t have it regularly. I don’t think I would be able to handle the taste of antacid tablets for long.

I have tried two kinds, and both tasted like chalk. The texture was nauseating, and they stuck in my teeth and coated my tongue. The flavor lingered even after I brushed my teeth.

If I ever do have to start taking antacids regularly, I will go for the pills that you have to swallow. Chewing them just makes me feel worse than I already do.


@StarJo - You are not alone. I take a liquid heartburn medicine that contains magnesium, and it has the same flavor as you described. I actually enjoy the taste, though my friends think me insane.

It reminds me of a laxative I took as a child. It also contained magnesium, and I remember loving the taste of it, too. My mother was concerned that I would take too much of it, so she stored it up high where I couldn’t reach it.

It’s good to be able to look forward to taking my medicine every night! Now that I’m all grown up, I can resist taking an overdose, but I do relish the four teaspoonfuls that I get to swallow on a daily basis.


This may sound strange to most people, but I love the taste of my chewable heartburn medicine. It contains both aluminum and magnesium, and I think that gives it its unique flavor.

It has a slightly metallic taste, and it reminds me of the flavor of chewable vitamins I took as a kid. I wish that it were safe to eat these like candy, because I find myself wanting more than just one. However, I know this could have bad consequences, so I resist the urge.

Does anyone else love this taste? I realize that not all heartburn medicine has a good flavor, but this is different than any other kind I have tried.


I don't think I would get along very well without taking antacid tablets. My heartburn is worse at night, and if I want to get a good nights sleep, I need some kind of antacids tablets.

I have taken many different forms, and seem to like the chewable tablets better than the effervescent antacid tablets.

If I take one before going to bed, then I am not kept up half of the night with heartburn symptoms. I also elevated the head of my bed a few inches.

Some of them definitely taste better than others, so you shouldn't have trouble finding one that you don't mind the taste of. I have found the fruit flavored ones to be the best.


@golf07 - I was given a prescription medication to help with my heartburn. Once this ran out, I began taking a similar antacid over the counter.

I got the same results, but also began reading where taking these on a long term basis could cause brittle bones. There is something about taking them on a long term basis that depletes the calcium from your system.

I didn't notice any kind of side effects when I was taking them, but this would be a side effect that would happen slowly over a longer period of time.

When I read this, I quit taking them as I have a family history of osteoporosis. The last thing I need is something that might contribute to that.

I have made some changes in my diet such as not eating fried foods and foods with a lot of high fat content. Cutting out carbonation is another thing that has helped me.

Once in awhile, I still get heartburn symptoms and I will take a chewable antacid, but I try not to take the tablets every day like I used to.


I know a lot of people who take antacid tablets on a regular basis for heart burn and indigestion problems.

Are there antacid tablets side effects if you take these on a regular basis over a long period of time?

Another thing that concerns me about these is I wonder if you are just covering up the symptoms with these tablets?

Your symptoms may go away for awhile, but I want to know what causes me to have the heartburn.

I am noticing more heartburn on a regular basis, and don't want to rely on antacids to take care of it. If I can avoid certain foods or make dietary changes, I would rather do that than take some medicine all the time.


I have always bought my antacids over the counter and have got the relief I was hoping for. I have had the same results with a generic brand like Equate antacid tablets as I have with the brand name tablets.

I usually have some Tums in my purse or my desk drawer for those times I have stomach indigestion. I never know when this is going to happen, so it is nice to be prepared.

If I know I am going to be eating a big meal late at night, I like to take an extended release antacid tablet. This is released over a period of time, and I know when I get home I should be able to sleep without having heartburn.

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