Tums Antacid Treatment for Heartburn

Learn if this medication is right for you

Tum chews

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Tums is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve heartburn, acid reflux, gas, and stomach upset. Learn when you could take this medication, how should it be used, possible side effects, and when your symptoms may suggest that something more serious is going on.

Benefits

Tums can be used to provide minor relief from heartburn, indigestion, and gas. Some people also use this preparation as a calcium supplement.

How Does It Work?

Different antacids work in different ways. The active ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate, which works to neutralize the acid in your stomach. Calcium carbonate may also increase motility (movement) in the esophagus, lessening the exposure to acid.

Some formulations of Tums also contain simethicone to reduce gas and are usually labeled for gas relief.

Other antacids may have additional ways of controlling heartburn. For example, Gaviscon also contains alginic acid, which provides a protective barrier that prevents acid from moving back up into the esophagus.

Product Details

Calcium carbonate is available in capsule, powder, liquid, and tablet forms to take by mouth under other brand and generic names. Brand name Tums is available as chewable tablets to take by mouth.

Tums has hard chews, soft chews, and a smooth dissolve formula. Tums is also available in a variety of strengths. Regular strength has 500 milligrams of calcium carbonate, extra strength has 750 milligrams, and ultra-strength has 1000 milligrams.

At one time Tums Dual Action was available, which contained a combination of calcium carbonate, famotidine, and magnesium hydroxide.

Be sure to read the product instructions for the formulation you intend to use, and make sure that the product isn't past its expiration date.

How Should It Be Used?

Take Tums exactly as directed. Do not take more of it or take it more often than recommended by your healthcare provider. When using this medicine as a dietary supplement, take it with food or following meals.

The correct dosage of Tums per day will depend on the product strength, and on your needs. Follow the directions on your prescription or package label carefully, and ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand.

Chewable tablets should be chewed thoroughly before being swallowed; do not swallow them whole. Drink a full glass of water after swallowing. Some liquid forms of calcium carbonate must be shaken well before use.

Do not take Tums as an antacid for more than two weeks without talking to your healthcare provider first.

Precautions

Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all prescription and nonprescription medications, nutritional supplements, and herbal preparations you are taking.

Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you whether you can take antacids with these medications, and if so, whether you can do so at the same time, or at a different time. It's often recommended that people take an antacid at least two hours prior to taking other medications, but this can vary.

There are several products that contain calcium carbonate. Always check the ingredients on the package to make sure you are not doubling up on medication.

Important precautions:

  • Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist if you are allergic to calcium carbonate, as well as any other allergies. Some people may be sensitive to the inactive ingredients in Tums, which vary by product.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have or have ever had kidney disease or stomach conditions.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
  • If you become pregnant while taking calcium carbonate, tell your healthcare provider.

Possible Side Effects

Although side effects from Tums are not common, they can occur.

Tell your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Belching
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste

Temporary Use Caution

Antacids are intended as a means of temporary relief. The package insert will state this. It's not dangerous to use these medications for a prolonged period of time, but further testing or treatment should be considered if you are continuing to need an antacid. These medications have no enduring effect and wear off quickly.

If you have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your healthcare provider might recommend that you take an alternative medication, such as proton pump inhibitors.

Lifestyle Factors

There are many ways to manage and prevent symptoms of heartburn and indigestion that don't rely on taking medications. It's a good idea to consider these, especially if your symptoms are recurring.

Heartburn is one way in which your body lets you know something isn't right. Even if Tums are alleviating your symptoms, it's important to consider how lifestyle factors could be contributing to your symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Some tips:

  • Don't lie down immediately after eating. Eating late in the day can increase your risk for heartburn.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Don't smoke—heartburn is one of the conditions caused by smoking.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Minimize spicy and fatty foods if you find them bothersome.
11 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.
  1. Tums. GlaxoSmithKline. Frequently Asked Questions.

  2. De ruigh A, Roman S, Chen J, Pandolfino JE, Kahrilas PJ. Gaviscon Double Action Liquid (antacid & alginate) is more effective than antacid in controlling post-prandial oesophageal acid exposure in GERD patients: a double-blind crossover study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014;40(5):531-7.  doi:10.1111/apt.12857

  3. Tums. GlaxoSmithKline. Tums Antacid Products.

  4. Tums. GlaxoSmithKline. Tums FAQ.

  5. National Library of Medicine. Calcium Carbonate.

  6. US National Library of Medicine. Taking Antacids.

  7. US National Library of Medicine. Calcium Carbonate.

  8. Joint Meeting of the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. US Food & Drug Administration. FDA Introductory Remarks.

  9. Harvard Medical School. 11 Stomach-Soothing Steps for Heartburn.

  10. National Institutes of Health. Smoking and the Digestive System.

  11. Harvard Medical School. What to Eat When You Have Chronic Heartburn.

Additional Reading

By Sharon Gillson
 Sharon Gillson is a writer living with and covering GERD and other digestive issues.