Medical Q&As

Heartburn - antacids safe?

Lately no matter what I eat or drink I get an awful heartburn. I have tried drinking milk to see if this works. I am not too keen on taking antacid tablets and stuff like that because I was told that too much of these can lead to a kidney stone? Is this true or can you suggest something else to get rid of it?

There is some truth in the statement that antacid mixtures can cause kidney stones. This can happen with calcium-based antacids but I hasten to add that you would need to be taking a large amount of this type of antacid on an ongoing basis in order to form kidney stones. In that situation the calcium-based antacid could increase the amount of calcium in the urine, which could over time form the nucleus of a stone. On a positive note a liquid antacid is a perfectly safe over-the-counter measure for you to take in the short term. However, you do say that your heartburn is awful and appears to be triggered by a wide variety of foods and liquids, which makes me suggest that your condition should be properly diagnosed. There are several different causes of heartburn. For example you could have a small hiatus hernia, which might be treated more effectively with treatments other than antacids. We all suffer heartburn from time to time but persistent heartburn is something that ought to be medically assessed. I say this not out of fear of a possible sinister cause but rather because it can be a very disagreeable symptom that can affect your enjoyment of food. In summary, it will do you no harm to take an antacid for now but do see your GP.