Gaviscon is (most likely) the most well-known brand of liquid antacid. Antacids are used to relieve symptoms of heartburn and indigestion (dyspepsia). Heartburn is a common symptom experienced during pregnancy.
Today I will look into the use of Gaviscon in pregnancy by looking at the main recommendations of heartburn treatment in pregnancy. I will conclude which Gaviscon product is the best to use in pregnancy.
Gaviscon is a brand name of a medicine called antacid. Antacid helps with the symptoms of indigestion/heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid.
Gaviscon Advance and Double Action contain sodium alginate, which creates a 'hj' in the stomach.
preventing acid from escaping and therefore helping to control symptoms of heartburn.
Like many other antacid products, Gaviscon is available from supermarkets and pharmacies over the counter. Certain Gaviscon products may be restricted to the sale from a pharmacy counter due to their size, for example.
When looking at different medicines for the management of heartburn, Gaviscon and other antacids are perceived as least effective; however, they can still provide relief from symptoms.
What Is Dyspepsia?
Dyspepsia is defined as a condition that affects the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) and is characterized by the following symptoms (ICGT, 2019):
- Upper abdominal pain or discomfort
- Heartburn: burning feeling in the chest
- Acid reflux
What Causes Dyspepsia In Pregnancy?
Two main factors contribute to the presence of dyspepsia in the pregnancy:
- Hormonal changes.
- Reduction in lower esophageal sphincter pressure: sphincter muscle located at the end of the ‘food’ pipe relaxes, allowing stomach acid to escape, causing the burning sensation characterized as dyspepsia.
Gaviscon range of products include:
- Gaviscon Original (liquid, chewable tablets and liquid sachets)
- Gaviscon Double Action (liquid, chewable tablets and liquid sachets)
- Gaviscon Advance liquid and chewable tablets
In the previous post, I explained the difference between Gaviscon antacids: Gaviscon alternatives.
Guide On The Management Of Heartburn In Pregnancy:
National Institute of Health (NICE) recommends lifestyle advice as first-line management of indigestion in the pregnancy, for example (NICE, 2017):
- Eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day
- Avoid eating at night
- Avoid foods and drinks that may cause indigestion, such as spicy and fatty food, juices, and caffeine.
When self-care measures fail to minimize indigestion symptoms, pregnant women may be offered treatment with medication.
Antacids are regarded as a first-line treatment for mild symptoms which are not controlled by lifestyle changes. The NICE guide does not recommend using antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate or magnesium trisilicate.
Both Gaviscon Original and Gaviscon Double action contain sodium bicarbonate. Pregnant women with moderate to severe symptoms (complicated dyspepsia) may be offered a drug that stops acid production rather than neutralizes it. Two medicines are mentioned in the guide: Ranitidine and Omeprazole.
The use of Ranitidine is out of the question due to safety concerns and consequent withdrawal of this drug from the market. Read more about Ranitidine recalls and Ranitidine alternative medicines. Omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK. PPIs are considered as most effective in stopping the production of stomach acid.
Can You Take Gaviscon In Pregnancy?
Advice based on the treatment guide:
I already briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph recommendations related to Gaviscon and pregnancy. The NICE guide does not recommend the use of antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate. Gaviscon Advance is the only product in the range that does not contain sodium bicarbonate.
Advice based on product information:
For Gaviscon Advance, the following advice is given:
Gaviscon can be used in pregnancy if clinically needed. Furthermore, it is said that clinical studies of over 500 pregnant women and data from ‘post-marketing experience indicate no adverse effects or toxicity on babies in the pregnancy. The same advice applies to Gaviscon Advance chewable tablets.
Can you use Gaviscon Double Action or Gaviscon Original in pregnancy?
Product information leaflets for Gaviscon Double Action and Gaviscon Original advise that both products can be used in pregnancy if clinically needed. A clinical study of 281 women did not show negative side effects or adverse health effects on unborn babies.
List Of Gaviscon Alternatives For Heartburn In The Pregnancy:
If you want to explore options and not buy Gaviscon, then there are plenty of Gaviscon alternative options for the management of indigestion.
Some antiacids have a similar combination of ingredients as Gaviscon. Pregnant women who struggle with indigestion may be prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for example, Omeprazole and its alternatives.
PPIs are considered the best treatment for indigestion. Clinical studies in pregnant women indicate no adverse effect on pregnancy or the newborn child’s health (eMC, 2021). Omeprazole is not known to be harmful in pregnancy (BNF, 2021).
Antacids, such as Gaviscon, can be used in pregnancy.
Lifestyle modifications are commended in the first instance to pregnant women who experience symptoms of indigestion.
Although there is no clinical trial evidence for the effectiveness of lifestyle modification on dyspepsia in pregnancy, some studies suggest that symptoms may be resolved in up to 25% in non-pregnant individuals (NICE, 2017). Antacids are recommended when lifestyle modifications fail to control symptoms.
The national guidelines on the management of dyspepsia do not recommend the use of products containing sodium bicarbonate or magnesium trisilicate because of possible adverse effects on the mother or fetus.
Product information for Gaviscon range, including antacids containing sodium bicarbonate sate that Gaviscon range can be used in pregnancy.
Gaviscon Advance, which does not contain sodium bicarbonate or magnesium trisilicate, would be the best choice for pregnant women with symptoms of dyspepsia.