What is Aluminum Carbonate?

J.M. Densing

Aluminum carbonate is a substance used medicinally to treat conditions caused by the presence of excessive amounts of digestive acid such as heartburn and ulcers. Similar to most antacids, it treats symptoms but not the underlying disorder. It is taken orally in tablet or liquid form, and is also known by the brand name Basaljel. Extreme caution should be used while taking aluminum carbonate if a patient has kidney disease or certain other conditions; a complete medical history should be disclosed to the doctor to avoid complications. Side effects are usually minor and can include constipation and abdominal discomfort.

Aluminum carbonate can be used to treat heartburn.
Aluminum carbonate can be used to treat heartburn.

Intended for oral ingestion, aluminum carbonate is the carbonate salt format of naturally occurring aluminum. It is used medicinally as an antacid to treat the symptoms of disorders caused by too much digestive acid. Examples of these conditions include heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and acid indigestion. It's important to remember that, like most antacids, it only treats the symptoms to relieve resulting discomfort but does not treat or cure the condition. Aluminum carbonate is also used to control high levels of phosphate in the body along with a low-phosphate diet to prevent the formation of related urinary stones.

Also known by the brand name Basaljel, aluminum carbonate can be taken in tablet or liquid form. Patients should be careful to follow the dosing instructions on the package to ensure maximum effectiveness. It should be consumed with plenty of liquid such as a full glass of water. If using the liquid form, it needs to be measured with an accurate measuring device such as a medicine cup, never with a kitchen spoon, and mixed with water or juice as directed. Aluminum carbonate should be taken with food so that the effects last longer; it should not be taken with other medicines because antacids can interfere with the body's ability to absorb other drugs.

There has not been adequate research on the effects aluminum carbonate could have on the babies of pregnant or breastfeeding mothers; they are advised to avoid taking the substance unless the benefits definitely outweigh the risks. Patients with kidney disease, disorders that cause slow emptying of the stomach, or who take other medicines may be advised not to use it or might require dosage adjustments and monitoring. It's important for patients to consult a doctor and discuss their medical history before using aluminum carbonate to avoid complications or drug interactions. Some mild side effects that may occur include constipation and abdominal discomfort. Serious side effects are rare, but can include intestinal blockage, severe abdominal pain or weakness, and altered mood or mental status. If these occur, patients should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

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