Tums Is an Antacid Treatment for Heartburn

Everything You Should Know About Tums

A senior woman having heartburn.
How do Tums work for heartburn and indigestion and what else should you know?. Patrick Heagney/Getty Images

Tums is used as an antacid to relieve heartburn, acid indigestion, gas, and stomach upset. When should you take this medication, how should it be used, what are some side effects, and when may your symptoms suggest something more serious is going on?

Tums as an Antacid - Benefits

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

How Does it Work?

Different antacids work in different ways. The active ingredient calcium carbonate in Tums works to weaken the acid in your stomach. Calcium carbonate tends to be stronger and work slightly longer than some antacid products, Calcium carbonate may also increase motility (movement) in the esophagus. lessening the exposure to acid.

Other antacids have different actions. For example,Gaviscon also contains alginic acid which provides a protective barrier preventing acid from moving back up in to your esophagus.

Tums Product Details

  • Tums Regular
    Flavors: Assorted Fruit, Peppermint
    Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate USP (500 mg) (Antacid).
  • Tums Extra Strength, Sugar Free
    Flavors: Orange Cream
    Active Ingredients: (Per Tablet): Calcium Carbonate USP 750mg (Antacid)
  • Tums Smooth Dissolve
    Flavors: Assorted Fruit, Tropical Fruit, Peppermint, Tropical Smoothies
  • Tums E-X (Extra Strength)
    Flavors: Assorted Fruit, Berries, Tropical Fruit, Wintergreen
    Active Ingredients: per tablet: Calcium Carbonate (750 mg)
  • Tums Ultra (Maximum Strength)
    Flavors: Assorted Berries, Assorted Tropical Fruit, Spearmint
    Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate USP (1000mg Antacid)
  • Tums Dual Action
    Flavors: Berry, Mint
    Active Ingredients (in each chewable tablet): Famotidine 10mg (Acid reducer), Calcium carbonate 800mg (Antacid), Magnesium hydroxide 165mg (Antacid)

    How Should Tums be Used?

    Tums comes as a tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, and liquid to take by mouth. It usually is taken three or four times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription or package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand.

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

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

    Do not take Tums as an antacid for more than 2 weeks without talking to your doctor first.

    Precautions in Taking Antacids Such as Tums

    • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to calcium carbonate or any other drugs.
    • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking. It is also important to list any nutritional supplements or herbal preparations 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. It's often recommended that people take an antacid at least 2 hours prior to taking other medications, but this can vary.
    • 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.
    • There are several products which contain calcium carbonate which may be present in different brand and generic drugs. Always check the ingredients on the package to make sure you are not doubling up on medication.

    Possible Side Effects

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

    Finally, please keep in mind that antacids are intended as a means of temporary relief. The package insert will state this, not because it can be dangerous to use these medications for a prolonged period of time, but because 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 are suffering from symptoms of GERD, it's a very good idea to meet with your physician and consider alternative medications such as proton pump inhibitors.

    Lifestyle Factors

    It's easy to forget that there are non-medications ways to help heartburn and indigestion when so many relief preparations are available. Yet it's a good idea to consider these, especially if your symptoms are recurring. After all, heartburn is one way in which our bodies let us know something isn't right. Even if Tums are alleviating your symptoms, take a moment to consider how lifestyle factors could reduce your risk of heartburn and indigestion.

    • Don't lie down immediately after eating - Eating late in the day can increase your risk for heartburn, but it's also linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
    • Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening.
    • Limit your intake of alcohol.
    • Don't smoke - Heartburn is but one condition caused by smoking.
    • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
    • Minimize spicy and fatty foods if you find them bothersome.

    Sources:

    U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Calcium Carbonate. Updated 05/15/15. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601032.html

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