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Gaviscon vs Maalox – Which Will Give You Better Relief?

If you run up to someone in the streets and ask if they’ve ever had heartburn, the answer will probably be yes. This burning chest pain is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

There are many drugs available for this common condition. Some are over-the-counter, while others are prescription only. Over-the-counter options are more popular among the public.

Gaviscon and Maalox are two of the most common over-the-counter options. These drugs are widely available. And both of them can quickly relieve your heartburn symptoms.

However, a question comes to mind ‘Gaviscon vs Maalox, which is better?’ And this is what we’ll be talking about today. So if you’re wondering about the differences between these two drugs, you’re in the right place.

Table of Content

Gaviscon vs Maalox: A Quick Comparison

AspectGavisconMaalox
TypeCombination of antacid and alginateCombination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide
Active IngredientsSodium Alginate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium CarbonateAluminum Hydroxide, Magnesium Hydroxide
Mechanism of ActionDual-action (neutralizes acid and forms protective barrier)Neutralizes acid
EffectivenessMore effective, especially for GERDEffective, but less so than Gaviscon
Onset of Action15-30 minutes, lasting 3-4 hoursWithin minutes, lasting 1-2 hours
UsesHeartburn, GERD, Nausea, IndigestionHeartburn, Indigestion, Stomach Gas, Peptic Ulcers (Rare uses)
PriceSlightly more expensiveLess expensive
Common Side EffectsNausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, HeadacheNausea, Vomiting, Constipation, Diarrhea, Headache
Severe Side EffectsRarely reportedRarely reported, but include anaphylaxis and others
ProsMore effective, longer durationImmediate relief, cost-effective
ConsSlightly more expensive, mild side effectsShorter duration, less effective compared to Gaviscon

There are many different over-the-counter heartburn medications. So oftentimes, people get confused. Thus it’s natural to surf the web to see which drug will be suited for you.

Gaviscon and Maalox are two very popular heartburn medications. Both of them can make your heartburn go away almost immediately. That’s because both of these drugs can neutralize your stomach acid. Although they are in the same drug class, there are some differences.

Let’s take a look at these drugs.

Maalox

Maalox is the trade name of a popular antacid medication. This drug contains a mixture of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Both of these are basic compounds. It means that they react with acid to form a salt. This neutralizes the acid.

Maalox Oral Suspension

Acid is the key factor when it comes to heartburn. Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid. This powerful acid is necessary to kill germs and digest food.

The cells of your stomach are accustomed to this acid. Just above the stomach lies your esophagus. It is the tube connecting your throat and your stomach.

In GERD, the stomach acid goes up to your esophagus. The cells of your esophagus aren’t used to this acid. That’s why they get damaged by the acid.

The aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide can neutralize this acid. That’s why this drug can quickly treat your heartburn pain.

Related Article: Mylanta vs Maalox: Which Is the Better Antacid?

Gaviscon

Gaviscon is a popular name when it comes to reflux drugs. This medicine is not a single chemical. Rather it is a combination of three active ingredients:

  • Sodium Alginate
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Calcium Carbonate

And these three work together to tackle your acid reflux problem.

Calcium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate are basic compounds. So, they act like Maalox. They can neutralize the acid coming up to your esophagus.

Sodium Alginate works a little differently. It doesn’t neutralize the acid. Instead,  it protects the cells of your esophagus. It forms a chemical ‘raft’ around the acid. So, the molecules of acid can’t come in contact with the cells of your esophagus.

Thus Gaviscon works in two ways. So, it is quite an effective drug.

Gaviscon

That being said, let’s see the main differences between these drugs in short.

Gaviscon vs Maalox: Which is more effective?

Gaviscon and Maalox are both quite effective in their own rights. And different people respond differently to various drugs. However, on average, Gaviscon is more effective compared to Maalox.

Gaviscon is a combination of an antacid and an alginate. But Maalox is just an antacid. Research shows that the antacid-alginate combination is two to four times more effective than the antacid alone.

It also makes sense when you look at how these drugs work. Gaviscon works in two ways. With its antacid components, it can neutralize stomach acid. With its alginate component, it can form a protective barrier.

Maalox works only in one way. It can only neutralize the acid. That is the reason why Gaviscon is more effective than Maalox.

Related Article: Gaviscon vs Tums : Which is more effective?

Gaviscon vs Maalox: Duration of action

Antacids work very fast when it comes to heartburn. As you’ve read, acid is the main problem when it comes to heartburn. And these antacids immediately attack the excess acid. So, you can expect fast relief with both Gaviscon and Maalox.

Gaviscon takes around fifteen to thirty minutes to start its action. However, in some cases, it may start as early as five to ten minutes. The action of Gaviscon lasts for a hefty three to four hours.

Maalox on the other hand begins to work within minutes. Some say that the Maalox liquid formulation immediately gives pain relief. However, research shows that it takes around twenty minutes for Maalox to work fully. And its actions last for about one to two hours.

Gaviscon vs Maalox: Uses

Gaviscon and Maalox are both effective heartburn medications. So, people use them mainly for gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is their over-the-counter use.

The drugs, however,  have different components. For this reason, doctors may use them for other purposes too. But these uses are very rare. Let’s take a look at some of the uses of the individual drugs:

Maalox Uses

As you’ve read, Maalox is a combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Both of these are basic compounds. So, they can directly neutralize the acid coming up to your esophagus. This can help with the healing of the esophagus as well.

The over-the-counter use of Maalox is for the following:

  • Heartburn (Gastroesophageal Reflux disease)
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach gas and bloating

Besides these conditions, this drug is used for other purposes also. These other uses are:

  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Biliary reflux
  • Different forms of gastritis
  • Healing of esophagitis
  • Hiatal hernia
  • To make the urine more alkaline in certain poisoning or overdose cases
  • Hypomagnesemia – Low magnesium levels in the blood
  • Preventing stress ulcers

But you shouldn’t take Maalox on your own for these purposes. You should speak to your doctor if you think you have any of these. They can properly evaluate your condition. And if necessary, they will give you Maalox with the proper treatment.

Gaviscon uses

The most popular use of Gaviscon is for heartburn or Gastroesophageal reflux disease. This drug contains both alginate and antacid. So, it can provide better protection against heartburn. The over-the-counter uses of Gaviscon are similar to Maalox. They are:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea, vomiting due to acid
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach gas and bloating

Gaviscon can also help in other more serious conditions. The individual components of Gaviscon have other uses in medicine as well. For example, sodium bicarbonate can decrease the acid levels in your system. The calcium carbonate component of Gaviscon helps get more calcium into your body.

But you shouldn’t take Gaviscon for these purposes on your own. You should only take them if your doctor has prescribed them for these purposes.

Let’s take a look at some of the other uses:

  • Peptic ulcer disease (gastric and duodenal ulcers)
  • In combination with PPI (first-line therapy for ulcer healing) where symptoms persist after PPI
  • Different forms of esophagitis
  • Non-ulcer dyspepsia
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Biliary reflux
  • Prevention of absorption of various compounds in the GI tract (Strontium)

Gaviscon vs Maalox – Side effects

Both Gaviscon and Maalox are locally acting drugs. It means that they don’t need to be absorbed into your blood. Only a small portion goes into the bloodstream. That’s why there are fewer side effects.

The common side effects aren’t that severe. But if you take these drugs for too long, it may be severe. You should also be careful if you have kidney, heart, or liver diseases. In rare cases, some people have reported severe side effects.

Let’s take a look at the individual side effects of these drugs.

Maalox side effects

Maalox, like other over-the-counter drugs, has few side effects. However, if you do take it for a long time, there may be some harmful effects. And rarely, there may be some serious side effects too.

Some common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation – The aluminum component can cause constipation
  • Diarrhea – The magnesium component can cause diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramps

Some rare side effects include:

  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Osteopenia and osteomalacia
  • Hypophosphatemia
  • Anemia
  • Hypermagnesemia
  • Neurotoxicity

Gaviscon Side effects

Gaviscon is quite a safe drug too. But, it has its fair share of side effects as well. Most of the side effects are mild. And the severe ones are rare.

The common side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Flatulence
  • Mood change
  • Rebound acidity
  • Altered taste sensation
  • Irritability
  • Mild constipation

However, some severe side effects have been reported in rare cases. These are more so if you take this drug for too long. The individual components can result in different side effects.

Gaviscon contains calcium carbonate. So, too much of this drug can raise the calcium levels in your body. Too much sodium bicarbonate can increase the overall pH of your body.

Below are some of the severe side effects:

  • Anaphylaxis/life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Severe alkalosis
  • Kidney stones
  • Respiratory tract obstruction

 Gaviscon vs Maalox: Pros and Cons

Let’s look at the pros and cons of Gaviscon and Maalox at a glance.

Gaviscon Pros

  • More effective than Maalox
  • Works in two ways – both as Alginates and Antacids
  • Duration of action is more

Gaviscon Cons

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Side effects

Maalox Pros

  • Begins its action immediately
  • Less expensive

Maalox Cons

  • Works for less duration
  • Effectivity is less compared to Gaviscon
  • Side effects

FAQs

What can I use instead of Maalox?

You can use other over-the-counter antacid medications instead of Maalox. These include Gaviscon, Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Mylanta, Rolaids, etc. But you should see a doctor if you’ve had acid problems for a long time.

There are prescription medications that are more effective than over-the-counter options. Your doctor can prescribe them if your problem is serious.

Is Maalox safe for acid reflux?

Yes, Maalox is safe for acid reflux. If you’re suffering from bloating and heartburn due to acid reflux, Maalox can cure you. However, it’s not safe to take too much Maalox for a long time. If you’ve been suffering regularly, it’s best to see a doctor.

When should you not take Maalox?

Most people can take Maalox as it’s an over-the-counter drug. But those with previous allergy to the drug shouldn’t take it. Patients who have kidney or liver diseases should be careful too.

You should see a doctor if you need to take Maalox regularly. There may be some underlying disease causing your acid reflux. Your doctor can properly diagnose and give you the necessary treatment.

Can I take Maalox with omeprazole?

Yes, you can take Maalox with omeprazole. There are no interactions between these two drugs. But omeprazole and Maalox will do the same thing. Both of these drugs can relieve heartburn symptoms. Omeprazole gives relief for a long time. But it takes longer to work.

Maalox on the other hand, works fast. But its effects are short-lasting. So, if your heartburn is bad, you can take Maalox after taking Omeprazole. But it’s best to not take Maalox regularly without consulting with your doctor.

Conclusion

Gaviscon and Maalox are both effective antacid drugs. That’s the reason why they are so popular. But there are some differences. And those differences are what we talked about today.

In the debate of ‘Gaviscon vs Maalox’, we’ll have to give the win to Gaviscon. Research shows that it is more effective than Maalox. But Maalox is a good antacid too in its own rights. In either case, both of these drugs can quickly relieve you of your heartburn!

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