Acid-Reducing Medicines

Acid-Reducing Medicines

Topic Contents

About This Medicine

Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.

The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

What are some examples?

Examples of acid reducers include:

H2 blockers.
  • Tagamet (cimetidine)
  • Pepcid (famotidine)
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec, Zegerid (omeprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)
  • Gaviscon
  • Mylanta
  • Tums

Why are acid-reducing medicines used?

Acid reducers may be used to:

  • Treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Treat ulcers.
  • Help prevent problems in people who are at risk for ulcers, like those who take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) long-term and those who are in the hospital.

How do they work?

Acid-reducing medicines work in two ways. H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. They don't work on the acid that's already there. Antacids work by making stomach juices less acidic. But your heartburn may come back as your stomach makes more acid.

What about side effects?

Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects might go away after a while.

H2 blockers can cause headaches or make you dizzy. They might cause diarrhea or constipation. You may have nausea and vomiting.

PPIs can cause headaches and diarrhea. Using them for a long time may raise your risk for infections or broken bones.

Some antacids can cause constipation or diarrhea. The brands vary in the ingredients they use. They can have different side effects.

If you use too much heartburn medicine, your body may not get enough of some minerals from your food.

General information about side effects

All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.

But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.

If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.

Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

What are some cautions about acid-reducing medicines?

Some H2 blockers and PPIs can affect how other medicines work. Tell your doctor if you use other medicines. He or she may change the dose or give you a different medicine.

Many antacids have aspirin in them. Read the label to make sure that you don't take too much. Too much aspirin can be harmful.

Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. If you take over-the-counter medicine, be sure to read and follow all instructions on the label. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you use any other medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines. Tell your doctor about all of the medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.


Current as of: March 22, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Arvydas D. Vanagunas MD - Gastroenterology