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Can Your Child Take Antacids For Digestive Issues?

Understanding The Use Of Antacids

Dr. Melody Hartzler Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Melody Hartzler on June 29, 2021

If your child is dealing with digestive issues, their symptoms may be causing them discomfort and even pain, and you may be tempted to try giving them the same antacids that you usually use for your own symptoms.

While some antacids may be safe for children of certain ages, this is not a universal rule, and some products may not be suitable for children at all.

Before you give your child antacids or any form of medication, it is important to read the Drug Facts Label on the back of the product in order to determine whether or not it is safe by use for children of a certain age.

Oftentimes, products will instruct you to either consult a doctor or avoid using the product at all for young children, and this will help guide you in terms of proper usage.

<h2>Common Digestive Issues For Children</h2>

Heartburn and indigestion can happen in children the same way they happen for adults, and your child may end up with symptoms like:

  • Pain or burning sensations in the upper or middle abdomen/stomach
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Burping or gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation

That said, there are also some gastrointestinal conditions that are common in general and may sometimes be mistaken for other digestive issues. Gastrointestinal conditions that are common in children include:

  • Celiac disease: Celiac disease entails an intolerance to gluten that ultimately triggers an immune response when gluten is ingested. Symptoms associated with this condition include diarrhea, abdominal pain, short stature, and weight loss.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammatory bowel disease can cause symptoms like rectal bleeding, weight loss, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and the causes are unknown but it is believed that genetics and the immune system factor in.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis: This condition is an inflammatory disease of the esophagus that can make it difficult to swallow. Other symptoms of this condition include nausea, regurgitation of food, feeling like something is stuck in the throat, or food getting stuck in the esophagus.
  • Dysbiosis: This imbalance of gut bacteria usually resolves on its own, but it can cause some uncomfortable symptoms like stomach upset and nausea.

If you suspect that your child’s digestive issues are part of something larger, like one of the conditions above, it is important to speak with your pediatrician promptly. Do not give your child antacids as a way to treat their digestive issues if you suspect the root of the problem to be something more serious -- your doctor will be able to advise you regarding what steps are necessary in order for your child to find relief.

Safety of Antacids For Use in Children

Now that some basics have been covered regarding tummy troubles in children, let’s talk about the use of antacids.

While antacids are not inherently dangerous when used correctly, there are still some risks associated with them especially when it comes to giving antacids to children against the advice of professionals. Most commercially available antacid products have not been approved for use in children under the age of 6 years for the same reasons that many over the counter medicines in general are not approved for use by children.

Children’s bodies are more sensitive than adults’ bodies, and thus may react to the active ingredients in certain medications differently than adults do.

Children also need much smaller doses of medicine in order to get relief from symptoms, which means it can be very easy to accidentally give your little one too much of a certain medicine.

Most antacids have a low risk of toxicity, but if your child takes too much of an antacid medication they may experience symptoms including stomach upset, loose stool, or constipation.

That said, there are certain products available that have been specifically made for use by children, and these products contain lower doses that are more suitable for children of younger ages. With these products, you may be able to more confidently give your child medicine for their tummy troubles, but it is still important to carefully read the proper usage instructions and consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

There do exist kids’ formulas for stomach issues, often addressing symptoms of heartburn, acid indigestion, and upset stomach. When you can, try to opt for clean ingredients in your kids’ medicine, avoiding artificial inactive ingredients in favor of organic flavor and texture enhancers like blueberry or oat.

You should also check that the approved for use by children between the ages of 2 and 11 years, and the exact dose that is appropriate for your child depends on their weight in pounds. For children under 2 years old, you should speak with your pediatrician before giving them this medicine.

Other Ways of Soothing Digestive Issues

Aside from antacids, there are also other things you can do to help soothe your child’s digestive symptoms, and these tricks may come in handy if your child cannot use antacids, or if you have already given your child an antacid but want to combine this medicine with other strategies.

For heartburn and indigestion, some home remedies include:

  • Giving your child some sugar-free gum to chew on for 30 minutes if your child is old enough to do so safely.
  • Mixing a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and allowing your child to drink it.
  • Giving your child a glass of milk for fast relief of symptoms. Drinking milk may help relieve acid indigestion or heartburn.

If your child is having diarrhea, you should make sure to follow the BRAT diet, which consists of bananas, rice, apple sauce, and tea. In other words, while your child is having diarrhea you should help them follow a bland diet in order to avoid further stomach upset. Offering them crackers, such as saltine crackers, is also a great idea because your little one’s body needs the salt due to loss of electrolytes.

Keep in mind that if your child’s diarrhea persists for more than 24-48 hours, or if it is particularly severe, you should call your doctor.

For constipation, you can try to offer your child some prune juice, high-fiber cereals, beans, and plenty of fluids. All of these food items can help get your child’s bowels moving properly.

All of this being said, there are some cases where a child’s digestive symptoms might be a sign of something more serious, in which case it is necessary to seek medical attention.

The following signs are an indication that you should seek help:

  • Persistent vomiting, especially if your child is throwing up blood
  • Your child is losing weight
  • Your child seems to have very little or no appetite, and this persists for more than a day
  • Your child is experiencing shortness of breath
  • Your child is noticeably sweating for no reason
  • Your child’s stomach pain will not go away or is severe
  • Your child’s bowel movements appear black or sticky, or your child has bloody stool or other rectal bleeding

If any of these symptoms present, you should call your doctor for guidance about next steps. By and large, antacids may only be suitable for children of certain ages, and reading the Drug Facts Label will tell you whether or not certain products may be safe for use by children.

The Bottom Line

Although there are plenty of commercially available antacid products, not all of them have been approved for use by children, especially in younger children and infants. Because of this, it may be tough to know whether or not certain antacids are safe to give to your child when they are having tummy troubles.

A good rule of thumb is to always read the proper usage instructions on the back of any antacids. These instructions will offer guidance about what age groups can safely use the medicine, as well as how much medicine should be taken depending on age. If the product is not safe for use by children, this will be specified.

Alternatively, some antacids do exist which have been specially formulated to be suitable for use by children of most ages. Even still, most of these products should not be given to children under 2 years old without the approval of a doctor.

All in all, some antacids may be safe for you to give to your child, but if you ever have uncertainties or concerns, it never hurts to talk to your pediatrician for a professional opinion before you give your child a medicine you have not tested out before.