How Long Does Tums Last?

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses how long the antacid Tums lasts.

Question

How long does the effect of Tums last? I need something to help with my heartburn and indigestion but I don't want to constantly be taking pills.

Asked by Seleca On Nov 21, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Nov 21, 2017

Tums has the benefit of working almost immediately after taking, but unfortunately, the effects do not last long. In general, each dose of Tums lasts for 1 to 3 hours and often lasts even shorter periods of time if taken immediately after food.


The short duration of action of Tums is due to how the drug works. Tums contains calcium carbonate and when taken by mouth, it effectively neutralizes stomach acid and raises the pH (i.e. lowers the acidity) of gastric contents. This helps to reduce the symptoms as gastric reflux and heartburn.


Unfortunately, Tums does not alter or change how gastric acid is released, unlike many of the newer antacids on the market such as the PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) class of medcations. Once the calcium carbonate is used up, the pH in stomach will begin to lower (i.e. become more acidic) again. When food is present in the stomach, our bodies are programmed to produce acid, which is why Tums lasts for shorter periods of time after a meal.


Due to the short duration of action of Tums, it often needs to be dosed every 1 to 2 hours. This is not a problem if you have a short term problem but if you are having recurrent symptoms, a longer lasting product such as Prilosec or Pepcid may be a better option.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Brian.Staiger@PharmacistAnswers.com Office: 716-389-3076

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