Effects of Antacids

An antacid is a medication taken by mouth for the purpose of relieving pain associated with acid indigestion, ulcers, and heartburn. The name “anti-acid” literally means “opposite acid”; with respect to the pH scale (which will be discussed later), the opposite of an acid is a base, so it is not surprising to learn that commercially sold antacids are basic, or alkaline. They work by neutralizing excess stomach acids created during the digestive process. Although over-the-counter antacids are generally free from side effects, a small percentage of people may experience a chalky taste, constipation, diarrhea, increased thirst, or stomach cramps. Since many antacids coat the stomach as part of the acid-neutralization process, they often interact with and prevent the proper absorption of some other medications. To prevent this from happening, a person should take the antacid at least one hour before or after taking the other medication. Some common household antacids include Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, Mylanta, and Baking Soda. All alkaline antacids possess at least one of the following active ingredients: aluminum, calcium, magnesium, sodium, or simethicone. Although some newer antacids (like Zantac and Pepcid) work by suppressing stomach acid secretion instead of altering its pH, the aim of this experiment is to evaluate the efficiency of alkaline antacids. The three antacids to be used in the experiment are Quick-Dissolve Maalox (Regular Strength, with active ingredient calcium carbonate), Phillips” Milk of Magnesia (with active ingredient magnesium hydroxide), and everyday Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (with active ingredient sodium bicarbonate).

Your complete digestive system is known as the Alimentary Canal, or the GI Tract. From start to finish, it is approximately thirty feet in length, which is about the height of a decent-sized house. The Alimentary Canal consists of many parts, including the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine (or the colon). The mouth softens and grinds up the food you take in; the food is then swallowed and travels to the stomach with the help of hundreds of involuntary muscles that line your esophagus. The stomach serves as a sort of “holding tank” for the food before it is passed on to the small intestine. The stomach is also where the digestive process begins; when food enters the stomach, your body releases very strong corrosive juices along with an enzyme called pepsin to break down the food particles into simpler compounds called polypeptides. The leftover particles and polypeptides are passed on to the small intestine, where the rest of the process occurs. After your small intestine finishes digesting the usable portions. well, everyone knows what happens then. Anyway, the juices that are secreted by the human stomach consist almost entirely of a chemical called hydrochloric acid (one of the strongest acids on Earth!). On average, the hydrochloric acid in a person”s stomach has a pH of 2 to 3. The pH system is a 0 to 14 scale that measures the acidity or alkalinity of a given environment (7 indicates a neutral environment-H20); stomach irritation can occur when the pH drops below 2 to 3. Antacids work by increasing the pH balance of these acids, which decreases GI mucosal inflammation.

Antacids are used to treat a plethora of gastrointestinal ailments. Doctors often use the term “non-ulcer dyspepsia” when diagnosing someone with stomach pain, bloating, nausea, or vomiting. This is basically a catch-all term for anybody with a non-ulcer-related stomach problem. And the number one recommended medication for “non-ulcer dyspepsia”. you guessed it, antacids! Indigestion is another incredibly vague, yet exceedingly common stomach ailment for which antacids are used. Indigestion can mean anything from heavy belching to a feeling of discomfort after a large meal, but it usually refers to something called gastritis.

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