The 6 Best Antacids of 2020

Soothe indigestion and bloating with over-the-counter finds

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First Look

Best Overall: Prilosec OTC at cvs.com

"This expert-recommended proton pump inhibitor reduces the amount of food-digesting acid produced by cells in your stomach lining to reliably improve symptoms of indigestion."

Best Liquid Antacid: Pepto Bismol at Amazon

"Drink down some of the classic pink stuff to treat all kinds of upset stomach, including heartburn and indigestion."

Best Flavored Antacid: TUMS Chewy Bites at Amazon

"These tablets go down super smoothly, neutralizing all that uncomfortable acid brewing in your stomach."

Best Chewable Antacid: Rolaids Extra Strength Tablets at Amazon

"Acid-fighting minerals—calcium and magnesium—combine in these easy-to-take tablets that neutralize the source of your heartburn and indigestion."

Best for GERD: Nexium 24HR at Amazon

"For GERD sufferers, Nexium 24HR can relieve and prevent symptoms on an ongoing basis."

Best for Kids: Mylicon Children’s Antacid at Amazon

"Need a safe but effective option for soothing your child’s sour stomach? These gluten-free tablets are a smart choice for kids between the ages of two and 11."

When heartburn or acid indigestion strikes, you need something that settles your stomach ASAP. It’s no fun to walk around feeling like you have your own personal fire-breathing dragon raging in your esophagus, and it’s even less fun to battle the burn while trying to work, exercise, drive through rush hour traffic, or sleep.

If you’re prone to bouts of GI distress, it’s smart to have a reliable over-the-counter antacid on hand that can provide quick relief. Why? Because these medications can decrease the amount of stomach acid you produce, says University of Missouri Health Care gastroenterologist Yezaz Ghouri, MD.

“The stomach normally produces hydrochloric acid to help digest food and kill bacteria or other organisms that may have been ingested along with the food,” Dr. Ghouri explains. “When there is an overproduction of the acid, it can lead to stomach discomfort.” 

Overproduction of stomach acid can be caused by eating spicy foods, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and frequently taking NSAID pain relievers, as well as chronic conditions like peptic ulcer disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Whatever the cause of your discomfort, antacids can often relieve and prevent painful episodes of heartburn and indigestion. Here are the six best OTC antacids for controlling your symptoms.

Our Top Picks

1

Best Overall: Prilosec OTC

prilosec otc

Prilosec, or omeprazole, belongs in the proton pump inhibitor category of antacid drugs, which means it reduces the amount of food-digesting acid produced by the cells in your stomach lining. It calls itself the “#1 Doctor Recommended Brand” for heartburn relief, and it’s Dr. Ghouri’s personal favorite, too.

“Omeprazole was one of the first antacids in the class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors, and while some of the newer ones like esomeprazole and dexlansoprazole are considered to be more potent, omeprazole is usually sufficient in controlling symptoms in a majority of cases,” Dr. Ghouri says. 

The dosing for Prilosec OTC is simple: you take one pill a day for 14 days, every four months (or up to three times per year). It may take the full 14 days before you feel the full effects of the drug, but once it kicks in, you should have fewer symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion until it’s time for your next course.

2

Best Liquid Antacid: Pepto Bismol

There’s no OTC medication for sour stomach more iconic than Pepto Bismol, with its fluorescent pink color, chalky texture, and minty (or cherry) flavor. It’s been around forever, and that’s because it works. Dr. Ghouri recommends that people with mild, intermittent heartburn turn to this easy-to-find option, which treats nausea and diarrhea symptoms, too.

Pepto Bismol, or bismuth subsalicylate, is available in a few different formulations—like chewable tablets and capsules—but the liquid variety really cools the burn as it goes down. Once it’s ingested, it coats your stomach and reduces inflammation, which can also deter your stomach from overproducing acid.

You can take two tablespoons of the liquid every 30 to 60 minutes, as needed, for up to eight doses in 24 hours. Note that taking Pepto Bismol consistently can cause constipation. Additionally, speak to a doctor before giving Pepto Bismol to a child or teenager also exhibiting flu-like or chicken pox symptoms.

3

Best Flavored Antacid: TUMS Chewy Bites

Let’s face it: you’re already queasy and uncomfortable, the last thing you want to do is choke down a gag-inducing medication in an attempt to feel better. This is where the smoothie variety of chewable TUMS really comes to the rescue; these tablets go down super smoothly, neutralizing all that uncomfortable acid brewing in your stomach. 

TUMS Chewy Bites are made with calcium carbonate, a mineral that effectively reduces acid and performs a dozen other helpful tasks like cleaning your teeth, making your cakes rise, and, of course, strengthening your bones. Keep in mind, though, that too much can cause constipation, so stick to the recommended dosage.

4

Best Chewable Antacid: Rolaids Extra Strength Tablets

If you’re a chronic sufferer of GI problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and indigestion, you may have been told to increase your magnesium intake. That’s because magnesium improves your nerve and muscle function, and can go a long way toward smoothing out digestive hiccups.

Many products designed to treat acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion contain magnesium, but we like Rolaids Extra Strength Tablets for quick, reliable relief. Each tablet contains 55 milligrams of magnesium plus 270 milligrams of calcium, making Rolaids a one-two punch when it comes to neutralizing and reducing stomach acid on the spot.

You can snag the extra strength tablets in either mint or fruit flavor, and take up to 10 tablets per day (two to four at a time) for two weeks, or as needed. Rolaids also offers an advanced formula that contains higher levels of magnesium and calcium, targeted at providing acid indigestion relief and relief from gas and bloating.

5

Best for GERD: Nexium 24HR

Nexium 24-Hour

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is caused by stomach acid rising all the way up into your esophagus, throat, and mouth, and can cause a painful burning sensation, belching, and difficulty swallowing.

Although there are often lifestyle changes you can make to improve symptoms of GERD, many people find themselves turning to an OTC or prescription antacid to make life a little more comfortable. One of the common medications used is Nexium 24HR, or esomeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor that works in a similar way as Prilosec OTC. The main difference is that you’ll only take one pill per day for a 14-week treatment course since Nexium’s effects last longer.

Since GERD can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult to eat, drink, exercise, sleep, or simply enjoy day-to-day life, it’s important to find lifestyle changes and effective medications that bring you relief. For GERD sufferers, Nexium 24HR can relieve and prevent symptoms on an ongoing basis. 

6

Best for Kids: Mylicon Children’s Antacid

Some babies are born into this world with extra-sensitive stomachs, and as a parent, you need to know what treatments, remedies, and medications are safe for your little one’s tummy troubles. 

Thankfully, Mylicon understands this parental dilemma; they’ve been making simethicone drops for babies suffering from painful gas between feedings for years. But they also offer a children’s antacid, so there’s a way to help older kids, too. 

Containing acid-reducing calcium carbonate and gas-busting simethicone, the antacid works well for kids with occasional indigestion (like ones who overdo it on the ice cream cake) as well as for kids who have more frequent stomach aches.

The tablets are free of gluten, saccharin, alcohol, and artificial flavors. They can be used by kids between the ages of two and 11. Younger kids can take one tablet three times per day, and older kids can take two tablets up to six times per day. 

Final Verdict

Prilosec OTC is Dr. Ghouri’s go-to recommendation for symptoms of indigestion because it works well and is available in a generic formulation, making it accessible and affordable. If your indigestion only pops up once in a while, treat it on the spot with a dose of Pepto Bismol.

What to Look For in OTC Antacids

Your symptom needs: Dr. Ghouri says there are three main categories of OTC antacids, and which one you use may depend on the severity of your symptoms.

If your symptoms are mild and intermittent, opt for a product with bismuth subsalicylate, calcium carbonate, or magnesium hydroxide.

If your symptoms are mild but persistent, choose an H2-receptor antagonist like famotidine.

If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you likely need a proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole or esomeprazole.

Dosage: How often do you have symptoms? It’s an important question to answer when choosing an antacid, since different products last for different lengths of time. Some are 12 or 24-hour, meaning you’ll only need to take them once or twice per day, but others last just a few hours (so you’ll need to keep them handy for re-dosing, if necessary). If you only have heartburn when you eat certain foods, a short-acting antacid should work fine—but if your indigestion is chronic, you’ll want a longer-lasting formula.

Your medical history: Antacids aren’t safe for everyone to take, says Dr. Ghouri, and there may be side effects. Bismuth subsalicylate and calcium carbonate can cause constipation, while proton pump inhibitors carry a risk of bone fractures, vitamin deficiencies, and kidney disease, though this isn’t typical with short-term use. “The incidence of these severe side-effects is generally low and requires long-term use of these medications,” explains Dr. Ghouri. “In general, it is recommended to speak to your physician before initiating therapy with antacids, especially for the long term.”

Why Trust Verywell

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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Article Sources
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