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Alcohol and Medications

Can You Take Tums With Alcohol?

Published:
June 27, 2024
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19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 27, 2024
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19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 27, 2024
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19 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 27, 2024
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19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 27, 2024
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19 min read

The Indirect Interactions Between Tums and Alcohol

  • Tums and alcohol don’t have any known interactions, but it’s still not a good idea to drink while taking the medication.

  • Alcohol negatively affects GI symptoms that Tums is used to treat, which is counterproductive to taking the medication. 

  • Reframe can help us take care of our gut health by quitting or cutting back on alcohol!

“Whenever heartburn strikes, get fast relief with Tums,” a big voice booms in a Tums TV spot as a woman rushes across an airport terminal to fling her arms around ... a gigantic fried chicken nuggets-chili peppers-and onion wrap. “It’s time to Love Food Back!”

But will Tums let you “Love Booze Back”?

Since Tums can aid GI discomfort, many a wishful thinker would like to believe this heartburn remedy can relieve their misery following a lively night at the local bar. But no genie can fulfill that wish for the simple reason that alcohol works against Tums! Let’s learn why.

Tums: Treatment for the Tummy

A female holding a glass of water, observing the pill

An over-the-counter (OTC) medication,
Tums is used to treat indigestion, upset stomach, and heartburn. The active ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate, which is a basic compound that works by neutralizing excess stomach acid. Excess stomach acid can cause GI discomfort such as nausea, pain, bloating, and heartburn. Tums is most commonly used as an antacid, but, as a mined calcium supplement, it’s also used to treat conditions such as hypocalcemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic kidney disease, and preeclampsia. 

The medication is associated with a few common but not serious side effects.

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased urination

Antacids like Tums are meant to relieve uncomfortable symptoms, but they may not address the root cause. Tums is effective for the tummy, but does it still work if we have a drink or two?

Potential Interactions Between Tums and Alcohol

Tums and alcohol don’t have any known interactions. However, Tums and alcohol still have indirect interactions that can lead to adverse effects. Both substances pass through our GI system, which can impact absorption and metabolism and lead to negative effects.

  • Enhanced GI discomfort. Both Tums and alcohol can affect our GI motility, which can lead to exacerbated symptoms. Although Tums is used to treat these symptoms, negative side effects also include GI discomfort. 
  • Decreased calcium levels. Alcohol impacts nutrient absorption which can consequently deplete our calcium levels. Since Tums can also be used to treat calcium deficiency, alcohol can counteract the effects of the medication.
  • Impaired kidney function. Tums can be used to treat kidney disease, because it removes phosphorus from our body. However, excessive drinking can damage our kidneys, causing increased impairments. 
  • Drowsiness. Tiredness is a side effect of both alcohol and Tums. When combined, they can increase the risk of excessive drowsiness.
  • High blood pressure. Tums is sometimes used to treat preeclampsia, which is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. Since excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, drinking may worsen the condition. 
  • Interactions with other medications. GI discomfort and heartburn are often associated with other underlying conditions. This may mean that we are taking other medications, which can interact negatively with alcohol. 

Tums and alcohol don’t interact directly. However, they still have many potential indirect interactions that have negative consequences. If we’ve already had a drink, is it a good idea to take Tums?

Risks of Mixing Tums and Alcohol

Can You Take Tums After Drinking?

There are no immediate dangers or direct interactions between alcohol and Tums. However, if we need to take Tums after drinking, we may be ignoring the bigger issue at hand. 

Alcohol can promote increased stomach acid production. This can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause inflammation. Inflammation of the stomach can cause GI symptoms such as bloating, pain, and nausea. Excess gastric acid can also increase the risk of acid traveling up into our esophagus, which causes heartburn. Over time, alcohol can cause permanent damage to our GI system, which leads to long-term health conditions. 

Taking Tums after drinking may temporarily relieve some GI discomfort. However, even though Tums may mitigate some uncomfortable symptoms, alcohol continues to damage our cells and tissues within our digestive tract, which can lead to long-term damage and GI conditions. It’s similar to using a band-aid to cover a wound that needs stitches. Taking Tums after drinking can provide a false sense that alcohol isn’t wreaking havoc on our GI system just because we may not be feeling discomfort at the moment. 

How Much Is Too Much?

If we’re trying to prevent GI discomfort, there is no set amount of alcohol that is confirmed not to cause any adverse effects. We’re all different and may respond differently to alcohol. Any amount of alcohol can disrupt our GI function, as alcohol passes through our digestive tract. 

If we have additional risk factors, we may be more susceptible to GI distress from alcohol. Prolonged and excessive drinking can also have permanent effects on our gut microbiome. For this reason, excessive drinking is associated with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and GERD.

No exact amount of alcohol is recommended when trying to prevent negative health effects. However, if we’re choosing to drink, it's best to follow moderate consumption guidelines to minimize any risks. 

How Long After Taking Tums Can You Drink Alcohol?

Since there are no direct interactions between alcohol and Tums, there is no specific time frame after taking Tums that makes alcohol safer to drink. If we’re taking Tums for GI discomfort or associated conditions unrelated to alcohol, drinking can negatively affect us no matter when we consume alcohol. 

The half-life of Tums ranges from 6 to 9 hours. That means half of the medication is eliminated in that period. Therefore, it’s best to wait at least 18 hours after taking Tums to drink alcohol. While there aren’t any adverse effects from mixing the two, waiting to drink ensures that our GI discomfort isn’t being masked by the medication. 

GI symptoms that Tums is used to relieve often can be recurring and caused by underlying conditions. Drinking alcohol while taking Tums and after the medication is eliminated may exacerbate symptoms and create greater complications and discomfort. If we experience regular GI discomfort, it may be best to avoid alcohol (with or without Tums in the equation). Tums doesn’t directly interact with alcohol, but what about other antacids?

Alcohol and Other Antacids

Although other antacids may work like Tums, they may have different active ingredients that can negatively interact with alcohol. Since antacids relieve symptoms of GI discomfort, they’re often perceived to be solutions for side effects of drinking. However, antacids and alcohol aren’t always a good mix. Let’s take a look at how alcohol interacts with other common antacids.

Pepto-Bismol and Alcohol

Pepto-Bismol is another OTC medication used to treat diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach. The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate, which has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce gastric irritation and diarrhea. 

The medication works by coating the stomach lining, which acts as a barrier between our stomach and irritating substances. It also has antimicrobial effects — making it commonly prescribed for GI infections such as H. pylori. 

Although Pepto-Bismol is used to treat symptoms similar to those Tums addresses, Pepto works differently and increases the risk of GI bleeding. Pepto-Bismol and alcohol are both metabolized by our liver, which can prioritize breaking down one toxic substance at a time.

Pepcid and Alcohol

Pepcid is a medication used to treat conditions caused by excess stomach acid and to prevent stomach ulcers. The medication is categorized as an H2 antagonist. H2 blockers bind to our histamine receptors and suppress the production of stomach acid-reducing histamine actions.

There are minimally reported interactions between alcohol and Pepcid. However, some studies have found that the medication may slightly increase the absorption of alcohol — increasing our blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Despite the potential dangers, Pepcid and alcohol are often combined to reduce symptoms of alcohol flush. As an H2 blocker, Pepcid may reduce alcohol intolerance symptoms by suppressing histamine function. But, because Pepcid may reduce these important warning signs, it may open the door to more long-term effects of alcohol.

Alka-Seltzer and Alcohol

Alka-Seltzer Original is a combination of citric acid, aspirin, and sodium bicarbonate. The medication is used to treat GI symptoms that are accompanied by headaches or body aches.

There are many different forms of Alka-Seltzer, including an antacid variation, which is composed of anhydrous citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. Since the different types of Alka-Seltzer have different active ingredients, it’s important to check the medication for specific interactions with alcohol. 

Alcohol directly interacts with aspirin, which is found in the Original form of Alka-Seltzer. It also can interact indirectly with sodium bicarbonate and lead to adverse effects. Drinking while taking Alka-Seltzer, no matter the type, isn’t recommended as it can increase the risk of complications and negative side effects. 

Whichever antacid we may be taking, individual factors may make combining antacids with alcohol more dangerous. What are some risk factors to keep in mind?

Personal Considerations When Mixing Tums With Alcohol

Although Tums and alcohol don’t interact directly, their indirect interactions can still be harmful. On top of that, individual factors may make mixing the two more dangerous for us in comparison to others. Certain considerations can help us rethink the drink when taking Tums.

  • Individual health concerns. Preexisting gastrointestinal disorders can increase the risk of experiencing GI symptoms. Drinking with preexisting conditions can further exacerbate them and negatively affect our metabolic health and liver function. Underlying conditions may also require the use of prescription medications, which may have direct interactions with alcohol. 
  • Analyzing consumption. Heavy drinking can be associated with poor GI health — increasing GI discomfort and the need for relief. Tums is most commonly used as an antacid for short-term relief but can also be used for other conditions that require chronic use. If taking Tums regularly, it may be best to consult with a physician for personal recommendations.
  • Personal reactions. We may respond differently to alcohol and Tums, which can both have side effects. Monitoring for any adverse effects can help us make safe consumption choices. 

Generally speaking, Tums and alcohol aren’t a dangerous duo. However, individual risk factors and alcohol’s indirect effects on the symptoms Tums is used to treat can still cause adverse effects. How can we prevent or limit these effects?

Managing Heartburn Safely and Effectively

Heartburn and other GI symptoms caused by excess stomach acid can be extremely uncomfortable. Tums can aid in relieving symptoms, but addressing the root causes may require a more comprehensive approach.

  • Lifestyle modifications. Heartburn and other GI symptoms may be chronic due to underlying conditions or from excessive drinking. Dietary changes such as changing our eating habits and avoiding personal triggers can help us limit unpleasant symptoms. Common triggers to avoid include acidic foods, spicy foods, and eating large quantities in one sitting.
  • Avoiding aggravating substances. Along with certain foods and drinks, other substances such as alcohol and nicotine can trigger heartburn and other GI symptoms. Avoiding these substances helps our digestive tract heal. 
  • Natural and home remedies. Natural remedies such as herbal teas, ginger, and aloe vera can provide heartburn relief. Supplements such as probiotics and apple cider vinegar can aid in improving gut health. 

Antacids like Tums can manage heartburn and GI symptoms in the short term. However, other strategies may be needed to address long-term issues. Quitting or cutting back on alcohol helps limit exacerbating symptoms.

Getting the Basics

Tums is an antacid for treating conditions related to excess gastric acid and several other conditions. Although Tums and alcohol don’t have any direct interactions, drinking can still lead to negative health effects. Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms that Tums is used to treat and damage our digestive system in the long term. Antacids like Tums are sometimes used to relieve unpleasant symptoms of drinking. However, they can mask the detrimental effects of alcohol — leading to increased risk of health conditions.

Summary FAQs

1. Can I drink while taking Tums?


Drinking while taking Tums isn’t recommended, as it can aggravate GI symptoms that the medication is used to treat.

2. Are there direct interactions between Tums and alcohol?


Alcohol and Tums don’t directly interact. However, alcohol can still indirectly affect the medication and the conditions it’s used to treat. 

3. Can I mix Pepto-Bismol with alcohol?


Pepto-Bismol and alcohol don’t have any known interactions. However, alcohol can exacerbate GI symptoms that the medication is designed to treat. 

4. How long after taking Tums can I drink?


Since alcohol and Tums don’t directly interact, there’s no specific time period to avoid. However, it’s best to wait until symptoms subside, as alcohol can further exacerbate our GI discomfort.

5. Will drinking make heartburn worse?


Alcohol can promote excess secretion of stomach acid, which can increase the risk of heartburn.

Settle Your Stomach With Healthy Tips on the Reframe App!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

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