What to Know About Mixing Tums and Alcohol

Tums is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) antacid medications to treat heartburn, but drinking alcohol while taking Tums can undo its positive effects. 

Tums is an antacid manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline that helps lower the production of stomach acid. Its main ingredient is calcium carbonate. This compound works similarly to another popular active ingredient in antacids, sodium bicarbonate, in that it helps to neutralize excess stomach acid. 

Presently there are no studies that highlight a contraindication (reason not to take) or negative interaction between calcium carbonate and alcohol, but alcohol is a common trigger of acid reflux, so combining the two is not recommended.

Alcohol can trigger or worsen heartburn in some people by temporarily opening a ring of muscle—called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—located at the junction between the stomach and the esophagus (food tube). The LES is supposed to be closed, except when food is passing into the esophagus, but alcohol relaxes the sphincter muscle, creating an opening that allows stomach acid to come back up into the esophagus.

This leads to a phenomenon known as acid reflux. The backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus creates a burning sensation in the chest commonly known as heartburn.

This article will review the effects of mixing alcohol and Tums, why alcohol triggers heartburn and how to get relief from indigestion.

drinking beer

Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

Mixing Tums and Alcohol

The ingredients in Tums and alcohol don’t interact negatively, but alcohol can worsen stomach acid imbalance and directly open the LES just the same.

Tums Ingredients 

Tums is a relatively simple medication that contains one active ingredient—that is, one ingredient that is responsible for providing a therapeutic effect—and that is calcium carbonate. It also contains several other inactive ingredients, including: 

  • Adipic acid
  • Corn starch
  • Food coloring such as those regulated by the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act: FD&C blue #1 lake, FD&C red #40 lake, FD&C yellow #5 (tartrazine) lake, FD&C yellow #6 lake
  • Flavoring
  • Mineral oil
  • Sodium polyphosphate
  • Sucrose
  • Talc

Tums Uses

For Heartburn

Tums relieves heartburn, acid indigestion, sour stomach, and upset stomach associated with these symptoms. Tums works by neutralizing stomach acid, which provides therapeutic relief to those who experience heartburn.

For Stomach Pain

Tums can help relieve stomach pain from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach's lining), peptic ulcers (sores that result from acid eating away at the stomach's lining), and gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding from acid leaking into the GI tract, especially in the organs associated with digestion such as the small intestine and pancreas.

For Hangovers 

If you feel sick after drinking alcohol and your symptoms are nausea, abdominal pain, and heartburn, you may be experiencing acid reflux. Taking Tums may relieve your symptoms. Of note, taking Tums before drinking alcohol is not an effective way to prevent a hangover.

Why Alcohol Intensifies Heartburn

Alcohol is one of the few substances that directly causes and intensifies heartburn. It does so by triggering the opening of the LES, a ring of muscle at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach.

This ring of muscle is usually closed unless food is passing through it. Even a temporary opening of the LES allows for acid to reflux into the lower esophagus, irritating the tissues that line your food pipe.

Other Heartburn Triggers 

Stomach acid is one of the tools that the digestive system uses to transform the raw materials of our food into the nutrients and energy we need to keep you alive, but there are certain conditions that can cause our body to produce too much gastric juice, including: 

  • Food and lifestyle: Acid reflux is most commonly triggered by lifestyle behaviors and certain foods, ingredients, or food groups such as caffeine, peppermint, fat or fried foods, chocolate, citrus fruits, and spicy foods, although smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, and laying down after you eat may also cause the LES to open causing acid reflux and heartburn.
  • GERD: GERD is a medical condition characterized by the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.
  • Genetic conditions like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES): ZES is a rare condition characterized by the development of gastrinomas in the pancreas (an organ in the abdomen) and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). These tumors produce gastrin, a hormone that stimulates acid production. This leads to a combination of too much stomach acid (from high levels of gastrin) and ulcers in the stomach or small intestine.
  • Helicobacter pylori: H. pylori is a bacterium that damages tissues in your stomach and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). Having an active acute H. pylori bacterial infection in your stomach may lead to an increase in stomach acid, while chronic infection can reduce gastric acid secretion.
  • Stress: Stress has been shown to inhibit gastric emptying of acid. Chronic stress can also deplete prostaglandins which protect the lining of the stomach from acid, increasing your risk of developing ulcers.
  • Ulcers: Ulcers are common among people who experience stress, take high amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or are infected with H. pylori—all of which are independent factors for increased acid production. 
  • Medication: Common heartburn medications, such as histamine-2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, decrease acid production in the stomach. If you take one of these regularly, it is possible that you may experience a rebound in stomach acid production if you stop abruptly.

Indigestion Relief

Tums Dosage

If you are experiencing heartburn symptoms, you should chew two to three tablets, or as directed by a healthcare provider. 

Chewable tablets

  • Tums Regular, Tums Smoothies, Tums Extra Strength, Tums Chewy Bites: It is not recommended to take more than six tablets over a period of 24 hours. If you are pregnant, you should not take more than four tablets over a 24 hour period.
  • Tums Naturals: Do not take more than seven tablets over a period of 24 hours. If you are pregnant you should not take more than five tablets over a 24 hour period. 

If your symptoms persist for more than two weeks despite taking your regular dose of Tums, you should notify a healthcare professional. 

Home Remedies

Tums is one of the most popular OTC supplements taken to relieve symptoms of heartburn and stomach pain.

Skipping Alcohol

Alcohol can trigger acid reflux even in small amounts. For some people avoiding alcohol, especially if it is a repeat offender that triggers your heartburn symptoms, is the best way to prevent future episodes.


Tums and alcohol don’t interact negatively with one another, so, technically, it’s safe to take tums before or after drinking alcohol, but it’s not recommended because alcohol is a common trigger of acid reflux.

A Word From Verywell

Tums is one of the most popular OTC antacids used to relieve mild and moderate heartburn. Sometimes the cause of that heartburn is due to alcohol use. Just how much or what type of alcohol will trigger your acid reflux is unknown, but it's likely that the more you have the greater your chances are of experiencing heartburn.  

Remember that Tums merely alleviates your symptoms and does not address the root cause of your heartburn. Ideally, you would not drink alcohol before or after using Tums, especially if alcohol is the main trigger of your acid reflux. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it better to take Tums before or after drinking?

    Tums can likely treat your heartburn symptoms after drinking, but it is important to note that taking Tums merely alleviates your symptoms and does not address the root cause of your heartburn.

    Ideally, you would not drink alcohol before or after taking Tums, especially if alcohol is the main trigger of your acid reflux. 

  • Can you take too many Tums?

    Yes. Tums contain calcium carbonate. Ingesting too much—over 7,500 mg— can cause a condition called hypercalcemia, which is associated with nausea and abdominal pain. Excessively high calcium levels are also toxic to the kidney and heart.

  • Are there other options besides Tums?

    Yes, Alka Seltzer, Rolaids, and Maalox are popular OTC antacids that work similarly to Tums, but have a different active main ingredient.

  • How do you prevent heartburn from alcohol?

    The best way to prevent heartburn from alcohol is to avoid alcohol use, especially in the presence of other GERD risk factors like obesity and smoking.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Medline Plus. Calcium carbonate.

  3. NHS. Antacids.

  4. Surdea-Blaga T, Negrutiu DE, Palage M, Dumitrascu DL. Food and Gastroesophageal Reflux DiseaseCurr Med Chem. 2019;26(19):3497-3511. doi:10.2174/0929867324666170515123807

  5. Waldum HL, Kleveland PM, Sørdal ØF. Helicobacter pylori and gastric acid: an intimate and reciprocal relationship. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2016;9(6):836-844. doi:10.1177/1756283X16663395

  6. Choi JM, Yang JI, Kang SJ, et al. Association between anxiety and depression and gastroesophageal reflux disease: results from a large cross-sectional studyJ Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018;24(4):593-602. doi:10.5056/jnm18069

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By Shamard Charles, MD, MPH
Shamard Charles, MD, MPH is a public health physician and journalist. He has held positions with major news networks like NBC reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.