What is Maalox?
Maalox is an over-the-counter medicine that belongs to a group of drugs called antiacids and contains magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. A combination of these two ingredients works to reduce or neutralize stomach acid. Antiacids are used for the treatment of acute and chronic gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and duodenal ulcers. They are also used during treatment with stomach irritating drugs, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or corticosteroids in order to prevent the development of ulcers. One of the most common uses of Maalox is alleviating functional heartburn and indigestion.
Unlike H2 inhibitors and proton pomp inhibitors, Maalox does not decrease the production of stomach acid, but neutralizes the produced acid. That’s why it brings immediate relief and one can feel the effects within minutes of taking Maalox.
It is available in liquid or chewable form, although it is thought that liquid antacids typically work better and faster than capsules or tablets.
Maalox was originally developed in 1949 and Novartis offers it in a variety of forms and flavors:
- Maalox Regular Strength – containing calcium carbonate.
- Maalox Advanced Regular Strength- aluminium and magnesium hydroxide with added simethicone. Simethicone is a substance that reduces the bloating and the discomfort associated with excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Maalox Advanced Maximum Strength – available as chewable tablets (calcium carbonate and simethicone) and as a liquid (aluminium and magnesium hydroxide and simethicone).
- Maalox Total Relief or “All In One” - in fact this formulation does not contain the classical mixture of alkaline salts, but bismuth subsalicylate which is used as an antidiarrheal agent. However, FDA recently issued a warning regarding this product as it can easily be mistaken for an antiacid drug. Its ingredient (salycilate) is contraindicated in patients suffering from ulcers, in children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome and in pregnant women.
- Wild Berry
- Assorted Fruit
Maalox is also manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis as Maalox Suspension, Maalox Tablets and Maalox Plus (with added simethicone).
Maalox is most commonly used to treat moderate dyspepsia, the symptoms of which include gas pain, bloating, indigestion, heart burn, or burning in the stomach area. This pain in the stomach area is usually a result of excessive stomach acid. It works only on existing acid within the stomach, and it does not prevent the production of acid. The aluminum and magnesium antacids work to lower the acid in the stomach, while Simethicone helps to break up gas bubbles within it.
Although Maalox is most commonly known for its use as an antacid, it can also be found in other treatments. It can be coupled with oxycodone to treat the esophageal pain experienced in cancer therapy patients. It is also found within a GI cocktail that is used by medical professionals in emergency rooms, and it can be used as an antacid treatment with prescription strength medications such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors.
Precautions when taking Maalox
Do not take Maalox without consulting your physician in case:
- You are suffering from any kind of kidney disease (aluminium and calcium are not recommended in these cases)
- You are on magnesium or calcium restricted diet
- Your symptoms last for more than two weeks. Indigestion and heartburn may be symptoms of very serious conditions.
- You take any other prescription or OTC medicines, herbs or dietary supplements.
- You are having a severe stomach pain. In this case call immediately the emergency health services.
- You have an intestinal blockage, Alzheimer’s disease or parathyroid glands disorder.
Do not take Maalox if you are allergic to aluminium hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide or any of the other substances of the products. Taking excessively high doses of antiacids and consuming foods rich in calcium can lead to the development of milk-alkali syndrome and renal damage. Do not take more than the prescribed doses as this can lead to osteomalacia.
Take Maalox according to the directions in the manufacturer’s leaflet or consult your doctor if you have any doubts.