Most of us don’t think twice about using antacids to help alleviate discomfort associated with heartburn and indigestion. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of consumers suffering from serious stomach and intestinal bleed bleeding incidents, following use of over-the-counter antacid medications containing aspirin.
Underlying Risk Factors
The FDA has been aware of this risk since 2009, and mandated that manufacturers place a warning label on product boxes. However, since then, the FDA has received eight reports of serious bleeding incidents that required hospitalization. In some cases, a blood transfusion was needed. It was determined that the, injured patients had underlying conditions that increased their risk of bleeding incidents. These risks include:
- Excessive alcohol use (three or more drinks daily)
- Age, 60+
- Use of steroids or blood thinners.
- Use of medications containing aspirin or naproxen.
- History of internal bleeding or stomach ulcers
Antacids to Avoid
If you or a loved one has any of the above risk factors, the following non-prescription antacids – which contain aspirin – should likely be avoided:
- Alka-Seltzer Original
- Winco Foods Effervescent Antacid and Pain Relief
- Bromo Seltzer
- MediqueMedi Seltzer
- Vida Mia Pain Relief
- Picot Plus Effervescent
- Zee-Seltzer Antacid and Pain Reliever
Many of these antacids are available in generic equivalents, and should also be avoided by at-risk consumers.
While aspirin is commonly used to reduce fever and pain, it can increase the risk of internal bleeding incidents. Even though stomach and intestinal bleeding caused by antacids is rare, it’s important to be aware of this potential risk, especially if you meet one or more risk factor.
When considering an antacid purchase, it is important to read the Drug Facts label on the box to see if it contains aspirin as an ingredient. If it does, consider an alternative. There are many antacids that do not contain aspirin, and your pharmacist or doctor can help recommend other options. Consider a product that contains an antacid only, such as magnesium hydroxide or calcium carbonate. If you suffer from frequent heartburn, let your doctor know.
The following symptoms may indicate onset of internal bleeding incident:
- Vomiting blood
- Abdominal pain
- Black/bloody stools
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.
The FDA will continue to evaluate this medical issue to determine if additional action is needed.