Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Medicine Cabinet Staple #7: TUMS
What else is in the front of my medicine cabinet? This season's favorite flavor of TUMS. Over the counter antacids are still the fastest way to speed relief for indigestion, and a quick fix for an extra blast of calcium (especially in rapidly growing pre-teens and teens.) Yes, there are fancier and more expensive acid blockers out there (see my "Q&A about GERD"), but I only keep TUMS in my cabinet because it works fast and it is inexpensive and easy to take: no water required! Our family prefers the rapid, smooth-dissolve texture and flavor of the name brand product versus the generic equivalents, but the other brands work as well.
Calcium supplements were recently in the news with a link to heart disease, but the take-home message is that it is better to get extra calcium from your diet than to rely on a pill. Additionally, if you are going to take calcium supplements chronically (whether it's via an antacid or other supplement product), Vitamin D should also be supplemented.
Another use of antacids/calcium supplements beyond indigestion is for nighttime leg cramps. Occasionally "growing pains" (leg pain, typically worse at night during growth spurts) often respond to an extra helping of calcium in the evening.
Antacids can potentially block absorption of other medications, so it's best to take them alone. If you find you are needing the antacids more than once or twice per week, it's time for a visit to your doctor to determine the cause and a more lasting solution.
BOTTOM LINE: Keep a bottle of antacid tablets in your cabinet to have on hand for occasional indigestion or leg cramps.