I asked the same thing to myself when I first heard of the drug from a friend of mine. Her description of it was a liquid antacid that tastes good (I don’t know about you, to me… sort of) and is quite effective in alleviating the symptoms of acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn.
Sounds good to me, I thought to myself. But I’m not the person who easily jumps into newer medication, especially the ones that you have to take on a regular basis. If you are like me, I normally do research and get the facts straightened out and just don’t trust any doctor’s advice. I even have my own take on other meds such as the purple pill (Nexium), Maalox, and other antacids (even TUMS).
So I guess it’s a natural reaction for me to ask if Gaviscon is really safe for my acid reflux. Does it actually do what it claims to do? Or are there any better alternatives?
Here’s what I found that I believe every individual suffering from the above digestive problems should know. This is quite a bit long article but the information found here is priceless:
First of all, Gaviscon is an antacid that helps treat acid indigestion, heartburn, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernias, as well as reflux esophagitis. In generic form, it’s aluminim with magnesium hydroxide. It is said to help by neutralizing the stomach acid, while simultaneously producing a viscous material which floats on the stomach content.
Now that’s something that drove my curiosity. The purpose of this viscous material is to serve as a barrier to avoid reflux of acidic content. Think of it as a protective shield.
It likewise claims to help in the treatment of other forms of stomach ulcers and can prevent them from bleeding. I have had ulcers before but by the time I was introduced to this drug, they were already healed using safer and natural methods. My biggest concern at that time was my GERD.
I’ve learned that although Gaviscon is an over the counter (OTC) drug (meaning you can easily get in most drugstores), it is still best to get a doctor’s recommendation. He may think you’re an oddball (like me) since it’s categorized as an antacid, but there isn’t any harm asking. And besides, he gets paid a consultation fee.
If you are a pregnant or breast feeding mother DO NOT take this drug. Also it’s important that you are not allergic to any of its ingredients or such containing aluminum or magnesium. Inform your doctor as well if you or any member of the family had or has liver or kidney disease or appendicitis. And it is NOT advisable to take Gaviscon for your GERD, if you are both old and suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Gaviscon might also change the effects on some other medication that you are taking – a hard list includes Nizoral, Mandelamine, Rifamate and Tetracycline antibiotics. If you ask me, even if these other meds are non-prescribed or consist of vitamins or food supplements, you still need your wise doctor’s advice.
There shouldn’t be any side effects or complications if you follow the above precautions well, save that the only things you should remind yourself of when taking this drug are that it might cause dizziness and therefore, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking it. One time after dinner and eating the wrong kind of food (spicy pasta), I had no choice but to take it. I did feel a bit dizzy but still managed to drive. I believe the effect varies from person to person.
For knowledge’s sake, the common side effects include “dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and diarrhea”, of which if any of these occur while taking Gaviscon, you are advised to consult your doctor immediately.
I’m sure you’re also asking if there is such a thing as Gaviscon overdose. The answer to that is definitely, just like all drugs do. That’s why you should only use the recommended dosage and if you think you had an overdose, contact your doctor immediately. Overdose symptoms include “drowsiness, dizziness, stomach problems, weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness”. Never ever take a double dose at a time… even if the packaging is pleasing to the eye and it tastes good to you, just like it does to me.
If you want to know the most important thing to remember about Gaviscon for GERD is that because it is an antacid, it should not be taken any longer than 2 weeks or larger doses than the ones recommended. All antacids (chewable or liquid form) should only be used for temporary relief of acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.
In the course of my battle with acid reflux and GERD, I’ve found that Gaviscon, along with other usual prescriptive medications, should normally be taken for emergency purposes only. If you want to have long-lasting relief and even cure your condition, then conventional methods are not going to be of any help to you at all. At best you can take them for a week, but this is frankly nothing more but a “band-aid” approach – focusing on masking the symptoms, instead of centering on the root cause.
Just having to read and remember all the side effects, precautions, warnings on overdosage, and important things to remember about Gaviscon, and you’re obviously intelligent enough to know that if you’re not careful, you can easily create another disease or health problem in your body because of this drug. That’s one of the things pharmaceutical companies don’t want folks like you and me to know about… even though they are already plain in sight.
If you want an honest recommendation, take Gaviscon for your acid reflux if you have taken all the necessary precautions and if you need to. Take it consistently for a week at the most and then, for emergency purposes only. But find safer and natural ways to treat your condition. You’ll be glad you did.