Harvard Health Letter

A warning about heartburn medications that contain aspirin

News briefs

It's easy to reach for a fizzy, soothing over-the-counter product when you have heartburn. But watch out for the antacids with aspirin in them, warns the FDA. The agency says the medicines (such as Alka-Seltzer Original, Bromo-Seltzer, and many others) can cause stomach bleeding in rare cases. And even though the product labels have included warnings about bleeding risks since 2009, the FDA says there've been eight new cases since then of people who've used the products and been hospitalized for stomach bleeding.

The FDA plans to convene a committee of experts next year to study the issue. What can you do in the meantime? Read labels, and don't take any antacids that contain aspirin, suggests the FDA. You're at an increased risk for stomach bleeding from these products if you are 60 or older; drink heavily; have a history of ulcers; take blood thinners; use aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve); or take steroids.