Antacids For Children: Their Safety, Types And Side Effects

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Antacids are medications that neutralize gastric acids by raising the pH of the stomach contents to relieve acid reflux and indigestion. You can use antacids for children to treat digestive issues, such as occasional regurgitationi of stomach contents or chronic reflux conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They can be purchased over the counter in the form of syrups or chewable tablets (1) (2). However, doctor consultation before purchase is necessary as some antacids aren’t recommended for children under 12 years of age unless directed otherwise by the doctor (3).

Read on about different antacids you can use for children, their safety, and their side effects.

In This Article

Can Children Take Antacids?

Always consult a doctor before giving antacids to children

Image: IStock

Can kids have Tums? Yes, school age children and adolescents may be given certain antacids for short-term relief from symptoms. Since antacid medicines are available without a prescription, it is important to carefully go through the pack’s insert for instructions regarding recommended age and dosage. It is advisable to consult a general physician or a healthcare provider before giving antacids to children. These are not recommended for infants and young children. Also they are not recommended for long term treatment in children of any age.

What Are The Different Types Of Antacids?

Different types of antacids may contain one or more of the following ingredients (1) (4).

  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Magnesium carbonate
  • Magnesium trisilicate
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Bismuth subsalicylate

These chemicals acts as stomach acid neutralizers and/or reduce the amount of pepsin (a protein-digesting enzyme that may cause damage if the refluxed stomach contents reach beyond the food pipe). They may also relieve abdominal pain and stomach cramps and prevent the refluxed acid from corrodingiXA type of destruction or damage to the stomach causes by acidic and alkaline agents any tissue (5).

protip_icon Quick fact
The calcium released from calcium carbonate may increase peristaltic movementsiXWave-like contractions happening serially to move food through the digestive tract from mouth to anus in the food pipe. This helps push the acid back into the stomach and provide relief from heartburn (4).

Extra ingredients that may be found in certain antacid preparations are (6):
  • Simethicone: Breaks down gas bubbles and reduces flatulenceiXAlso called farting, it is the act of passing gas through the anus .
  • Alginic acid: It is prepared from kelp (seaweed) and acts as a physical barrier to prevent the acid from coming in contact with the inner lining of the food pipe.


protip_icon Did you know?
Antacid tablets are slower acting and have less acid-neutralizing power compared to a liquid form (11).

What Is The Dosage Of Antacids For Children?

The dosage is mentioned in the patient information available with the medication

Image: IStock

The age-appropriate dosage is often mentioned in the patient information leaflet or package insert available with the medication. However, you should discuss with your healthcare provider to know the appropriate dose based on the age and bodyweight of your child. Antacids are usually taken after meals or at bedtime, or as directed by your child’s pediatrician.

The table below may help you understand the dosage instructions for some of the available antacids (7) (8) (9).

Ingredients (mg)Brand namesAge (years)Dosage
Calcium carbonate (400mg)Pepto kids (chewable tablet)3-5Not more than 3 tablets in 24 hours
6-11Not more than 6 tablets in 24 hours
Aluminum hydroxide (200mg)

Magnesium hydroxide  (200mg)

Simethicone (20mg)

Maalox (liquid)

Ingredients mentioned per 5ml or 1tsp

12 or above2-4tsp (10-20ml) up to 4 times a day
Bismuth subsalicylate (525mg)Pepto-Bismol (liquid)
Ingredients mentioned per 30ml or 2tbsp
12 or above1 dose (30ml or 2tbsp) every 30 minutes to 1 hour as needed, not exceeding 240ml in 24 hours

What Are The Side Effects Of Antacids In Children?

Antacids may cause stomach cramps in some children

Image: Shutterstock

Antacids usually do not cause harm if taken in correct doses. It may cause certain side effects in children, such as (4):

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

You should stop giving the medication to your child and consult a physician if any of the above symptoms become severe.

What Precautions To Take When Using Antacids For Children?

Always use measuring cups to administer medicines

Image: Shutterstock

You must observe the following precautions when giving antacids to your child (9) (10).

  • Antacid chewables or chewable tablets should not be swallowed whole rather must be dissolved in the mouth slowly.
  • Use measuring cups or devices provided with the product wherever applicable. Shake the container of liquid antacids well before administration to ensure uniform consistency of the liquid antacid suspension or antacid syrup.
  • Antacids are short-term solutions and provide symptomatic relief. Do not use them for more than two weeks if symptoms persist. It is advisable to consult a general physician before giving antacids to children below 12 years of age.
  • Make sure you check for the medicine’s composition or formulation to avoid any ingredients that are potential allergensiXSubstances that are primarily responsible for triggering an allergic reaction to your child.
  • Some antacids may not be safe for children with liver, kidney, or heart disorders. Products containing salicylates, such as Bismuth subsalicylateiXMedication used to treat heartburn and indigestion , may cause Reye’s syndrome (a rare disorder causing liver and brain damage). A doctor’s consent is necessary in such cases.
  • Consult a doctor before giving antacids to your child if they are ill or have just recovered from any illness.
  • Antacids may alter the absorption and function of some other drugs. Discuss your child’s medications with a doctor before starting antacids.
protip_icon Quick fact
Antacids containing magnesium trisilicate and magnesium hydroxide may bind to antibiotics such as tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones and reduce their absorption and effectiveness (4).
  • Some antacids may contain sodium. Ask your doctor if your child is on a low-sodium or sodium-free diet. The same applies to children on a magnesium-free diet.
  • Keep medications out of children’s reach to prevent accidental overdosing.
  • Also, do not give similar medicines, such as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers, when giving antacids to children.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a natural antacid?

Antacids naturally available in different fruits, vegetables, and grains are known as natural antacids. These antacids include high-fiber, alkaline, and watery foods such as oatmeal, bananas, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers. Apart from this, foods such as apple cider vinegar, ginger, and lemon also have antacid properties that may help children with acid reflux (12).

2. What happens if my child takes Tums?

Since the bodies of children are more sensitive than those of adults, the effect of certain medications will be different. An accidental ingestion of Tums by your child may lead to a minor stomach ache and problems such as constipation or diarrhea. You may wipe your child’s mouth with a wet cloth and feed them snacks and water. Seek further consultation with a doctor (13).

3. Can antacids be taken on an empty stomach?

According to Dr. Bidisha Sarkar, “Taking antacids on an empty stomach may help them work faster as less food needs to be digested before they can begin working. However, some antacids should not be taken without food, so follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider. Also, seek medical attention if your child experiences uncomfortable side effects while taking an antacid without food.

4. What are the differences between liquid, chewable, and tablet antacids?

All antacids work the same; however, antacid tablets are slow-acting and lower neutralizing effects than that of the liquid form of antacid. Moreover, the chewable ones may have a poor interaction with gastric acid (11).

If you are concerned about acid reflux or other gastric problems in your child, it is always a good idea to speak to a doctor about the dosage and safe antacids for children to give them age-appropriately. Since many parents have a common question, can kids take Tums, here’s a simplified answer. Giving non-prescribed antacids for the short term may not cure the underlying causes of GERD and reflux in children and could lead to side effects and other medical problems. Therefore, you may try to manage acid reflux in children with an effective diet and lifestyle modifications. If they fail to work, consult a doctor to decide on the right medication (antacid) to relieve your child’s discomfort.

Infographic: Other Medications For Acid Reflux In Children

Doctors may suggest medications when lifestyle changes do not relieve acid reflux in children. These medications are prescribed depending on the condition’s severity. Check out the infographic below to know what medications to treat acid reflux in children apart from antacids.

medicines other than antacids to treat acid reflux in children (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Antacids should not be given to children without a doctor’s prescription.
  • They differ in their formulation and dosage for children of different ages.
  • Although harmless, it may induce certain side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headache, which require medical intervention.
  • It is important to follow precautionary measures to prevent complications such as allergies, liver damage, and overdosing.

Antacids are medications that aid in neutralizing stomach acid and offer relief from heartburn and indigestion. Learn how they work through this informative video!

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Antacids.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antacids/
  2. Reflux in Children.
    https://medlineplus.gov/refluxinchildren.html
  3. Indigestion medicines.
    https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/digestive-gut-health/indigestion-medicines
  4. Blake H. Salisbury and Jamie M. Terrell; (2021); Antacids.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526049/
  5. Tina L. Samuels and Nikki Johnston; (2020); Pepsin in gastroesophageal and extraesophageal reflux: molecular pathophysiology and diagnostic utility.
    https://journals.lww.com/co-otolaryngology/Abstract/2020/12000/Pepsin_in_gastroesophageal_and_extraesophageal.6.aspx
  6. Antacids.
    https://iffgd.org/manage-your-health/diet-and-treatments/antacids/
  7. Pepto Kids.
    https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=673c45dc-84fd-5b45-e053-2a91aa0adea8
  8. Maalox Antacid.
    https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=e2a14762-3860-44c3-a3ea-5dbc45f4b1d5
  9. Pepto-Bismol.
    https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=33baaf04-498d-44f2-9288-02b8f874f914
  10. Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Trisilicate.
    https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/medications/pediatric/aluminum-hydroxide-and-magnesium-trisilicate
  11. Antacides.
    https://iffgd.org/manage-your-health/diet-and-treatments/antacids/
  12. GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/gerd-diet-foods-that-help-with-acid-reflux-heartburn
  13. Tums
    https://missouripoisoncenter.org/is-this-a-poison/tums/
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