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Home Pharmacy (cont.)

Upset Stomach

Classic heartburn is described as a burning sensation in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the upper chest and may be associated with a bad taste in the back of the throat. It is important to note that many of these symptoms also are associated with heart attack or angina. Unless the diagnosis of heartburn is well established, individuals with chest pain should consider seeking emergent medical care. This is especially true in those with significant risk factors for heart disease including smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease or stroke.

  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) is an OTC liquid medication recommended by many for the treatment of indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. The bismuth often will causeblack stools (usually this is not a concern). The compound has anti-secretory, antibacterial, and anti-acid properties, but should not be used in infants, young children, or women who are breastfeeding to avoid the chance of causing Reye syndrome. Bicarbonate tablets (for example, Alka-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer) are recommended to relieve heartburn and indigestion because they reduce stomach acidity.
  • Simethicone (Gas-X, Phazyme) is an OTC medication used to reduce/relieve gas and the feeling of stomach bloating.
  • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) may be taken to control nausea and vomiting. It is also recommended for motion sickness and dizziness. It should not be used with sedatives as it may increase drowsiness.
  • Emetrol is an OTC medication that relieves nausea and vomiting. It is a mixture of carbohydrate-rich sugars that is also relatively safe for children and pregnant women (with a doctor's approval). People with diabetes should not use this medication because of the high sugar content. Continued nausea and vomiting may result in dehydration, and these symptoms may signal a more serious illness. If the symptoms persist, it is reasonable to contact you health care practitioner.
  • A variety of OTC medications are now available to help treat indigestion. They include H2 blockers (a type of antihistamine that helps control acid secretion in the stomach) such ascimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac). Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) decrease acid production through a different pathway and include medications such asomeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).
  • Calcium carbonate (for example, Caltrate 600, Os-Cal 500, Rolaids, Tums), aluminum hydroxide (for example, ALternaGEL, Dialume), and magnesium hydroxide (Phillips Milk of Magnesia) are antacids that work immediately to relieve acid indigestion and heartburn. They are available in both chewable tablets and liquid forms. Aluminum based antacids may causeconstipation, and the magnesium based products may cause diarrhea. Maalox is a combination of the two types of antacids.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/19/2014

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Toxicity, Salicylate »

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