Gaviscon range of products is probably the most known brand of antacids in the UK. However, several alternative products and drugs can help with symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Today I will review the 16 best Gaviscon alternative products and medicines. I will briefly discuss what Gaviscon is to understand alternative treatments better.
How Gaviscon and Alternative Antacids Work?
Gaviscon is a brand of products commonly referred to as ‘antacids’ used to manage acid reflux, also known as heartburn and indigestion. Heartburn happens when acid escapes from the stomach back to the esophagus (a long tube that connects the mouth and stomach), causing the following symptoms commonly:
- Burning sensation in the lower or middle chest area
- An unpleasant burning and irritation at the back of the throat
Heartburn symptoms are usually present after a meal and may get worse when lying down.
Ongoing heartburn symptoms have an umbrella term for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Antacids neutralize stomach acid and therefore help with symptoms caused by the excess of acid. Additionally, antacids may contain alginates (sodium alginate), which form a ‘raft’ preventing acid from leaving the stomach. Antacids usually contain sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate as an active ingredient.
Differences between Gaviscon products
Gaviscon range of products include:
- Gaviscon Original
- Gaviscon Advance
- Gaviscon Double Action
The table below shows the differences between main Gaviscon products focusing mainly on the main active ingredients present in the formulation of each product.
|Range||Active ingredients||Forms available|
|Gaviscon Original||Calcium carbonate, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate||Oral suspension, chewable tablets|
|Gaviscon Advance||Potassium bicarbonate, sodium alginate||Oral suspension, chewable tablets,|
|Gaviscon Double Action||Calcium carbonate, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate||Oral suspension, liquid sachets, chewable tablets|
It can be concluded from the above table that Gaviscon’s range of products contains a combination of:
- Sodium alginate: forms a protective layer in the gut. In the presence of sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate creates a ‘raft’ that is present on the top of the stomach content, preventing acid reflux.
- Sodium bicarbonate: used as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid.
- Calcium carbonate: used as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid.
Gaviscon Advance vs. Gaviscon Double action vs. Gaviscon Original, what is the difference?
Gaviscon Advance contains more sodium alginate than Gaviscon Original, making it a ‘stronger antacid.’ Gaviscon Double Action contains sodium alginate and two other antacids compared to Gaviscon Advance, which contains sodium alginate and potassium bicarbonate.
Gaviscon Double Action contains a double amount of sodium alginate as compared to Gaviscon Original.
Gaviscon alternative products: antacids
Products, which are alternatives to Gaviscon, contain one or more of the same ingredients.
Gaviscon alternative Liquid Antacid
1. Peptac as Gaviscon alternative
Peptac is one of the best-priced liquid antacid products which can be used for symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Peptac comes in 500ml bottles in two flavors:
- Peptac Peppermint liquid
- Peptac Aniseed liquid
Peptac contains the following active ingredients:
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Sodium Alginate
- Calcium Carbonate
This combination of active ingredients is the same as in Gaviscon Original and Gaviscon Advance.
Peptac can be bought from most high street pharmacies, although it is usually kept as part of dispensing stock rather than a product shown for sale. When priced right, Peptac can be purchased for around £4, making it one of the best-priced liquid antacids on the market.
Other products which are the same as Peptac and produced by the same manufacturer but marketed by different companies include:
- Acidex Oral Suspension
- Tesco Heartburn & Indigestion relief
- Boots Heartburn Relief Peppermint Flavour
- LloydsPharmacy Heartburn and Indigestion Liquid
- Rennie Liquid Heartburn Relief Oral Suspension
- LloydsPharmacy Heartburn and Indigestion Liquid
2. Milk of Magnesia
Milk of Magnesia (Phillips) is a popular product that can be used as an antacid to manage the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Additionally, Milk of Magnesia is used to help with stomach discomfort flatulence (gas) and as a laxative to help with constipation.
Milk of Magnesia does not contain the same active ingredient(s) as Gaviscon; however, magnesium hydroxide has similar (almost equal) effectiveness to neutralize stomach acid as sodium bicarbonate (eMC, 2020), which is one of the ingredients in the Gaviscon range.
Maalox contains aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, which help with heartburn and indigestion. The main active ingredients are different from active ingredients found in the Gaviscon range. Maalox is not commonly dispensed in high street pharmacies or sold as regular stock.
Some pharmacies may agree to order Maalox from pharmaceutical wholesalers individually for the same or next-day delivery. Alternatively, Maalox can be purchased online, for example, Amazo.co.uk (see link below).
4. Maalox Plus as Gaviscon alternative
Like Maalox, Maalox Plus contains aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, which act as antacids to neutralize stomach acid. Maalox Plus contains a third active ingredient – simeticone. Simeticone is an antiflatulent/antifoaming agent used to help with bloating and discomfort caused by trapped wind.
Patients who experience heartburn symptoms and bloating (trapped wind) may find this alternative product even more effective than Gaviscon’s range of products. Maalox Plus is not usually kept as a part of the regular over-the-counter stock.
It is possible to request to order Maalox Plus in a high street pharmacy, as leading UK pharmaceutical wholesalers stock Maalox Plus. Alternatively, see the link below to get Maalox Plus from Amazon.co.uk.
Gaviscon alternative products: Chewable tablets
Although more convenient than liquid preparations, chewable antacid tablets work slower and less effectively neutralize stomach acid (iffgd, 2019).
Neferthen lees patient may get sufficient response from chewable forms of antacids. The two most popular chewable antacid alternatives to the Gaviscon range are the Rennie range of antacid tablets and Tums.
Rennie’s range of antacid tablets contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Although the combination of active ingredients is not the same as with the Gaviscon range of liquid antacids and tablets, Rennies contain commonly used antacid compound and will help with symptoms of indigestion and heartburn.
Rennies are commonly available over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Tums are standing out from the crown of antacid products with a range of unique flavours for their variety, including assorted fruit and assorted berries flavours with advertised ‘delicious taste.’ Tums contain calcium carbonate as an active ingredient.
Bisodol brand of antacid tablets is part of the Rannie range. Bisodol chewable tablets contain three active ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Carbonate, and Simeticone.
In addition to managing heartburn and indigestion, Bisodol chewable tables help manage trapped wind, thanks to simeticone, which is included in the formulation.
ENO offers an alternative form of antacid medication to Gaviscon and other heartburn drugs. ENO came in the form of powers mixed with water and consumed. ENO contains sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and citric acid, which can be used to relieve heartburn and indigestion.
Gaviscon alternative products: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)are the most effective drugs in managing heartburn/indigestion. PPIs work in a completely different way to antacids such as Gaviscon. PPIs stop the production of stomach acid (rather than neutralizing it), making them superior to Gaviscon and other antacid products.
All PPIs control symptoms with a single dose when used for uncomplicated heartburn. Symptom control is usually long-lasting (for up to 24 hrs), as opposed to antacid, which needs to be used a few times a day.
PPIs are available over the counter, and on prescription, the latter option gives a broader choice of PPIs in the management of heartburn and indigestion.
Over the counter PPIs include the following drugs:
Facts to consider before using PPIs
Delayed onset of action
The general advice for PPIs is that it can take 2-3 days to see complete symptom control, although most patients should see the benefits of treatment within one hour of taking a PPI.
All PPIs available without a prescription over the counter are restricted to adults aged 18 and over. When prescribed, PPIs can be used by the younger population.
PPIs interact with several drugs.
Check the product information leaflet for more details or speak to the pharmacist before use.
The use of proton pump inhibitors is associated with more common side effects than antacids such as Gaviscon.
Common side effects may include:
- Abdominal pain
Limit on the duration of treatment
Patients who do not achieve relief of symptoms within two weeks of starting the treatment should see advice from their GP. Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors are used for the short-term treatment of heartburn and indigestion.
9. Nexium Control as Gaviscon alternative
Over-the-counter Esomeprazole is mainly known under the brand name Nexium Control. Nexium control can be purchased in various places, including supermarkets, shops, pharmacies, online stores, and chemists.
Nexium Control comes in capsules and tablets, each containing 20mg of Esomeprazole. A single dose of Nexium Control provides relief of symptoms for up to 24 hours.
10. Guardium Acid Reflux Control
Guardium acid reflux control is the latest proton pump inhibitor available over the counter without a prescription. Guardium acid reflux gastro-resistant tablets contain 20mg of Esomeprazole. The makers of Gaviscon produce Guardium Acid Reflux Control.
11. Esomeprazole (Galpharm)
Esomeprazole 20mg Capsules (Galpharm) are available in Tesco, including Tesco's online groceries. Galpharm Esomeprazole capsules are priced very competitively. A pack of 14 esomeprazole capsules cost £10, whereas a pack of 7 just £5.90 (prices taken August 2020).
Gaviscon alternative: Omeprazole
12. Omeprazole 10mg tablets (Boots)
Boots Pharmacy sells omeprazole 10mg tablets. Acid Reflux 10 mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets can be purchased in-store and online at Boots.com.
A pack of 14 tablets costs £9.99 (prices taken August 2020).
13. Pyrocalm Control
Pyrocalm Control is the newest PPI containing omeprazole. Each Pyrocalm Control tablet contains 20mg of omeprazole. Pyrocalm Control is mainly available from online pharmacies, Lloyds Pharmacy. Pack of 14 tablets costs £10.99 (prices taken August 2020).
14. Pantoloc Control (Pantoprazole)
Pantoloc Control is the only proton pump inhibitor which contains pantoprazole. Each Pantoloc Control tablet contains 20mg of pantoprazole.
Pantoloc Control is not readily available, with most online pharmacies being out of stock.
The best option of getting Pantoloc Control is to ask a pharmacy team if this item is available for ordering from drug wholesalers.
Gaviscon alternative products: H2-receptor antagonists
H2-receptor antagonists such as ranitidine as effective in reducing stomach acid and controlling the symptoms of indigestion. The only H2-receptor antagonist which was available over the counter was ranitidine 75mg tablets, also sold under the brand name Zantac 75 Relief.
All ranitidine products (over-the-counter and prescription-only) have been recalled due to safety concerns. Ranitidine is currently undergoing investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) into its safety. Ranitidine will not be available for sale in the UK in the foreseeable future.
There are plenty of alternatives to ranitidine; some options were discussed in this post. None of any other H2-receptor antagonists is available without a prescription in the UK.
16. Prescription options for H2-receptor antagonist
Prescription-only options forH2-receptor antagonist include:
All the above drugs are intermediately out of stock due to increased demand caused by a lack of ranitidine on the market.
Patients have a great choice of Gaviscon alternative medicines. There is a wide selection of alternative antacid products that come in liquids and tablets.
Peptac liquid (available also under different brand names, see post for more details) resembles the closest alternative to Gaviscon as it contains a combination of the same active ingredients. Patients who suffer from indigestion/heartburn may, however, benefit from the use of any antacids discussed in this post.
Proton pump inhibitors are the most effective in managing heartburn and indigestion symptoms. PPIs became readily available to patients, with most supermarkets, pharmacies, and online vendors selling one or more drugs in this category. PPIs should only be used as a short term treatment of acid reflux.
Patients who experience symptoms of heartburn/indigestion ongoingly or patients who fail to respond to treatment should contact their GP for advice. When prescribed, PPIs can be used ongoingly under the care of a GP.