Treating Heartburn? Avoid These Medications

Aspirin-containing antacids used for heartburn treatment could cause bleeding

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning about aspirin-containing antacids in the treatment of heartburn or sour stomach.

That's because aspirin-containing antacids may cause stomach or intestinal bleeding, especially in those at a higher risk of bleeding.

This warning does not recommend stopping the use of aspirin altogether, but focuses on educating patients on the risk, highlighting who is at risk and possible treatment alternatives.

Who Is at a Higher Risk for Bleeding?

People who meet the following criteria may face a raised risk of bleeding:

  • Those who are 60 or older
  • Those who have a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems
  • Those who take certain medications, which include:
    • Anticoagulants or blood-thinning drugs like warfarin
    • Steroid medications like prednisone
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Those who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day

Some patients take aspirin daily to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Taking daily aspirin should be under a doctor's supervision. If your doctor has advised you to take daily aspirin, do not stop taking it unless instructed by your doctor to do so.

Also, if you have recurrent heartburn, speak to your doctor. This may be a sign of a more serious condition. Your doctor can determine the best treatment for you.

How Do I Know if My Antacid Has Aspirin?

Check the drug facts label typically found on the back of the box or bottle. Check to see if the product contains aspirin. If your product contains aspirin, the drug facts labels will also include a risk for bleeding.

If the antacid contains aspirin, the FDA recommends looking for another product. Several antacids and acid reducers on the market do not contain aspirin.

Which Antacids or Acid Reducers Do Not Contain Aspirin?

If you have a sour stomach, indigestion or heartburn, you may want to choose between the several over-the-counter products that do not contain aspirin.

If you are looking for a medication to provide relief of heartburn, sour stomach and indigestion, look for a product that contains an antacid. Some ingredients to look for include calcium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide.

If you are looking to reduce the production of stomach acid and to treat frequent heartburn, look for proton pump inhibitors like Nexium (esomeprazole), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and Prilosec (omeprazole), or H2 blockers like Pepcid AC (famotidine) and Zantac (ranitidine).

If these medications do not resolve your symptoms within 14 days (typically), or your symptoms worsen, speak to your doctor. This may indicate a more serious condition.

Always follow the directions on the label. Speak to your doctor before starting a new medication, as some medications may interact with your prescription medications or certain health conditions.

Speak to your doctor about your risk for stomach or intestinal bleeding.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 6, 2016