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Drug Profile

The information on this site is intended to supplement and enhance, not replace, the advice of a physician who is familiar with your medical history. Decisions about your health should always be made ONLY after detailed conversation with your doctor.

Generic drug name: aluminum hydroxide (a LOO mi num hye DROX ide)
Brand name(s): AMPHOJEL
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Antacids
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Generic drug name: aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate (a LOO mi num hye DROX ide and mag NEE zee um car bon ate)
Brand name(s): GAVISCON, GAVISCON-2
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Antacids
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Generic drug name: aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide (a LOO mi num hye DROX ide and mag NEE zee um hye DROX ide)
Brand name(s): MAALOX, MAALOX TC
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Antacids
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Generic drug name: magaldrate (MAG al drate)
Brand name(s): RIOPAN
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Antacids
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Limited Use [what does this mean?]
Generic drug name: magnesium hydroxide (mag NEE zee um hye DROX ide)
Brand name(s): FAMILY DOLLAR MILK OF MAGNESIA, PHILLIPS’ MILK OF MAGNESIA
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Antacids
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

There is no information in the drug labels. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Safety Warnings For This Drug [top]

Nighttime Heartburn Treatments: Try These First

There are nondrug treatments, with no safety concerns, and less expensive drugs that may be effective for you; these should be tried before you use any drugs for heartburn. First, try to avoid foods that trigger your condition (e.g., fatty foods, onions, caffeine, peppermint, and chocolate), and avoid alcohol, smoking, and tight clothing.[1] Second, avoid food, and particularly alcohol, within two or three hours of bedtime. Third, elevate the head of the bed about six inches or sleep with extra pillows.

For both heartburn and ulcers, it is important to avoid drug-induced causes. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to cause ulcers. Ask your doctor if acetaminophen could be substituted for these drugs. Check with your doctor about the osteoporosis medications alendronate (FOSAMAX) and risedronate (ACTONEL), which irritate the esophagus.

If these measures are not effective, try simple over-the-counter (OTC) antacids such as a generic aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide product (MAALOX, MAALOX TC). If symptoms worsen or bleeding occurs, call your doctor. If this does not relieve your symptoms, one of the family of stomach acid–blocking drugs known as histamine2-blockers can be tried. This family includes cimetidine (TAGAMET), famotidine (PEPCID), nizatidine (AXID), and ranitidine (ZANTAC). Histamine2-blockers are available in both OTC and prescription strengths.

If the OTC histamine2-blockers do not give adequate relief of your symptoms after 14 days, it is time to consult your physician.

Facts About This Drug [top]

Aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide neutralize stomach acid and are used to treat ulcers, stomach upset caused by stomach acid, and reflux esophagitis (heartburn) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In reflux esophagitis, acidic stomach contents flow backwards up into the esophagus (the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), causing a burning sensation under the breastbone. Magaldrate, a chemical combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, is used in the...

Aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide neutralize stomach acid and are used to treat ulcers, stomach upset caused by stomach acid, and reflux esophagitis (heartburn) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In reflux esophagitis, acidic stomach contents flow backwards up into the esophagus (the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), causing a burning sensation under the breastbone. Magaldrate, a chemical combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, is used in the same way. Liquid antacids are considered to be more effective than solid or powdered forms.[2]

Aluminum can cause constipation, and magnesium can cause diarrhea. By combining aluminum with magnesium, these drugs reduce the problems that either substance alone can cause. However, the combination may still cause either constipation or diarrhea.

The combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate is only used to temporarily relieve heartburn caused by reflux esophagitis. You should not take Gaviscon or Gaviscon-2, two brand-name products that contain this combination of drugs, for ulcers or serious stomach upset due to stomach acid. They do not contain enough antacid to neutralize significant amounts of stomach acid. Instead, you should take a generic combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide.

Because it loosens stools, magnesium hydroxide can also be used as a laxative. It should only be used occasionally for this purpose (see constipation for alternatives).

Aluminum hydroxide is also used to prevent a certain type of kidney stone. If you become constipated while using aluminum hydroxide, ask your doctor about switching to a product that contains both aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide.

If you take large doses of one of these drugs or use it for a long time, see your doctor for regular checkups. If you are treating yourself with these drugs, do not take them for more than two weeks unless you check with your doctor.

Ulcers often come back after a few months. For frequent, severe recurrences, maintenance therapy using histamine2-blockers is used. If your ulcer disease is resistant to treatment with histamine2-blockers, talk to your doctor about the antibiotic combination treatments that are used to eradicate the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (see Combination Treatments for Helicobacter Pylori Infection). This bacterium is present in a large number of people with ulcers. The presence of this bacterium can be diagnosed with a blood, breath, or stool test in people with a history of ulcer disease.

Anyone with severe kidney disease should not use magnesium antacids, as the magnesium can build up in the blood.[3] Dialysis patients should avoid aluminum-containing antacids, as aluminum can be deposited in and weaken bone.[4]

Before You Use This Drug [top]

Do not use if you have or have had:

  •   intestinal obstruction
  •   severely reduced kidney function

Tell your doctor if you have or have had:

  •   abdominal pain that is severe
  •   allergies to drugs
  •   Alzheimer’s disease
  •   appendicitis
  •   bleeding from rectum or gastrointestinal tract
  •   bone fractures (antacids containing aluminum or magaldrate)
  •   colon inflammation (colitis)
  •   colostomy
  •   constipation that is severe or prolonged
  •   diarrhea that is prolonged
  •   diverticulitis
  •   hemorrhoids
  •   ileostomy
  •   intestinal blockage
  •   kidney problems
  •   liver problems
  •   pregnancy or are breast-feeding

Tell your doctor about any other drugs you take, including aspirin, herbs, vitamins, and other nonprescription products.

When You Use This Drug [top]

  • Call your doctor immediately if you have black, tarry stools or if you vomit material that looks like coffee grounds. These are signs of a bleeding ulcer.
  • Call your doctor if you have trouble swallowing or persistent abdominal pain.
  • If you are on a low-salt (low-sodium) or low-phosphate diet, ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you choose an antacid. Many brands contain these substances.
  • Have regular visits with your doctor if you are taking large doses or using regularly for a long time.
  • Aluminum-containing drugs may interfere with radiopharmaceutical tests; be sure to tell your doctor you are taking them.
  • Keep an interval of one or two hours between taking these and other oral drugs.
  • Do not take for more than two weeks unless your doctor tells you to.

How to Use This Drug [top]

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but skip it if it is almost time for the next dose. Do not take double doses.
  • Do not share your medication with others.
  • Take the drug at the same time(s) each day.
  • Take tablets with a full glass (eight ounces) of water. If you use tablets, chew them thoroughly.
  • For ulcer treatment: Take one to three hours after meals and at bedtime for maximum effectiveness.
  • Drink plenty of fluids if taking aluminum-containing antacids.
  • Store at room temperature with lid on tightly. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not expose to heat, moisture, or strong light. Do not let liquid form freeze. Keep out of reach of children.

Interactions with Other Drugs [top]

0The following drugs, biologics (e.g., vaccines, therapeutic antibodies), or foods are listed in Evaluations of Drug Interactions 2003 as causing “highly clinically significant” or “clinically significant” interactions when used together with any of the drugs in this section. In some sections with multiple drugs, the interaction may have been reported for one but not all drugs in this section, but we include the interaction because the drugs in this section are similar to one another. We have also included potentially serious interactions listed in the drug’s FDA-approved professional package insert or in published medical journal articles. There may be other drugs, especially those in the families of drugs listed below, that also will react with this drug to cause severe adverse effects. Make sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist the drugs you are taking and tell them if you are taking any of these interacting drugs:

ACTONEL, AGENERASE, ALLEGRA, amprenavir, aspirin, AVELOX, cefdinir, CELEBREX, celecoxib, CIPRO, ciprofloxacin, delavirdine, digoxin, ECOTRIN, fexofenadine, GENUINE BAYER ASPIRIN, KAYEXALATE, ketoconazole, LANOXICAPS, LANOXIN, LEVAQUIN, levofloxacin, MAXAQUIN, moxifloxacin, NIZORAL, OCUFLOX, OMNICEF, RESCRIPTOR, risedronate, SKELID, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, SUMYCIN, tetracycline, tiludronate, vitamin D3.

Adverse Effects [top]

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  •   appetite loss
  •   bone pain
  •   constipation that is severe
  •   continuing feeling of discomfort
  •   dizziness or lightheadedness
  •   fecal impaction
  •   headache
  •   irregular heartbeat
  •   mood or mental changes
  •   muscle weakness
  •   nausea or vomiting
  •   swelling of wrists, ankles, feet, or lower legs
  •   tiredness or weakness that is unusual
  •   urination that is frequent
  •   weight loss that is unusual

Call your doctor if these symptoms continue:

  •   chalky taste
  •   constipation
  •   diarrhea or laxative effect
  •   nausea or vomiting
  •   stomach cramps
  •   stools that are speckled or whitish

Periodic Tests[top]

Ask your doctor which of these tests should be done periodically while you are taking this drug:

  •   blood aluminum, calcium, phosphate, and potassium levels
  •   kidney function tests

last reviewed March 31, 2021