Maalox for Heartburn, Indigestion, and Gas

Maalox Uses, Actions, and Possible Side Effects

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What is Maalox and what conditions is it used for?. Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images

Maalox is an antacid containing aluminium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. These compounds are often used for stomach upset by reducing the amount of stomach acid present. It may be used to control the symptoms of acid indigestion, heartburn, upset stomach (dyspepsia), and with the addition of simethicone in the product Maalox Total Relief, may help with symptoms of intestinal gas and bloating.

What Conditions Is Maalox Used For?

Maalox has been used for relief of all of the above symptoms in conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, esophagitis, hiatal hernias, and peptic ulcer disease. It may be used alone in mild cases, or combined with other medications.

How Does It Work?

Aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide work together to neutralize stomach acid. Aluminum hydroxide works rapidly at lowering stomach acid, especially when used in liquid form.

Product Details

Maalox is available as several preparations. In general, liquid preparations act more rapidly than those that are chewed. With chewable tablets, it's important to chew the tablet completely and not swallow it whole. It's also very important to note that the "Total Relief" preparation contains bismuth subsalicylate. Bismuth has aspirin-like side effects which has resulted in adverse reactions in some people who unknowingly used this preparation instead.

  • Regular Chewables - Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate
  • Regular Liquid - Active Ingredients: Hydroxide, Magnesium Hydroxide, Simethicone
  • MAX Chewables - Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Simethicone
  • MAX Liquid - Active Ingredients: Aluminum Hydroxide, Magnesium Hydroxide, Simethicone
  • Antacid Barrier Chewables - Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate
  • Total Stomach Relief Liquid Active Ingredients: Bismuth Subsalicylat

How to Use It

Maalox is available as both a chewable tablet and liquid to take by mouth. Chew tablets thoroughly; do not swallow them whole. Drink a full glass of water after taking the tablets. Shake the oral liquid well immediately before each use to mix the medicine evenly. The liquid may be mixed with water or milk.

Follow the directions on the package label or on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide antacids exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Do not take antacids for more than 1-2 weeks unless prescribed by your doctor.

Special Precautions

It's a good idea to read the package instructions when you take Maalox, but it's also important to:

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to calcium carbonate or any other drugs, vitamins, or nutritional/herbal supplements. This medication can interact with several medications, such as aspirin, iron tablets, and tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics, and more.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking. Your doctor 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 take the medications at a different time. The time delay is usually at least 2 hours of taking an antacid.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease or stomach conditions.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking calcium carbonate, call your doctor.

  • If you are using Maalox Relief, take note of the special precautions above under product details. This preparation of Maalox contains bismuth subsalicylate which can have aspirin-like side effects. The FDA has reported adverse reactions due to people unknowingly using this preparation instead of other preparations.

Possible Side Effects

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

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

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Belching
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste

Bottom Line With Maalox

Maalox products are designed for the short term relief of minor medical conditions, or to be recommended by physicians for longer term conditions. If your symptoms are not readily controlled, make sure to consult your physician, and make an appointment regardless of the relief you experience if your symptoms are lasting more than 1 to 2 weeks.


Tighe, M., Afzal, N., Bevan, A., Hayen, A., Munro, A., and R. Beattie. Pharmacological Treatment of Children with Gastroesophageal reflux. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014. 11:CD008550.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Hydroxide. Updated 10/24/16.