Gaviscon is a non-prescription medication for the treatment of heartburn and GERD (acid reflux). It is produced and distributed in the UK by Reckitt Benckiser and by GlaxoSmithKline in the US and Canada.
The active antacid ingredients in the Gaviscon UK formula are aluminum hydroxide and either magnesium carbonate or magnesium trisillicate.
In addition to the acid-neutralizing ingredients, Gaviscon contains "alginate" (alginic acid + sodium bicarbonate). When taken by mouth the combination of the alginic acid and bicarbonate creates a protective barrier which prevents stomach acid from refluxing back up into the esophagus.
This protective barrier helps reduce the number of reflux episodes and provides up to 4 hours action against heartburn. If reflux occurs, this protective barrier is the first to contact the esophageal mucosa, and thus provides protection against the gastric contents.
It may be helpful to combine treatment with lifestyle modifications such as loss of weight, raising the head of the bed at night, reduction in alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking.
Gaviscon works in a non-systemic way, so the treatment doesn't enter the bloodstream.
- Kumar & Clark: Clinical Medicine 6e p.276 Elsevier 2005