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Aging and Antacid Abuse

August 11, 2010

Antacids are one of the most commonly abused over-the-counter drugs in the US. Many people take them at the slightest indication of indigestion – and continue taking them preventatively regardless of whether symptoms persist.

Although not immediately dangerous in recommended dosages, antacid overuse can have serious side-effects, especially for the elderly.

1. Antacid abuse can mask serious conditions that need medical attention.

2. Stomach acid plays a role in immunity by destroying pathogens. Overuse of antacids can lead to increased digestive infections.

3. Stomach acid plays a role in calcium absorption. Antacid abuse can contribute to calcium deficiency.

4. Some types of antacids can promote the development of pneumonia.

Responsible use of antacids means taking them only occasionally in response to indigestion. If you think you need them on a permanent basis, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor both to ensure that an OTC antacid is an adequate treatment and to evaluate your risk of long-term side effects.

Do you take a daily antacid tablet to treat or prevent indigestion?

photo: cygnus921

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