GERD vs. Antacids
Harsimran Grewal
David Thompson Secondary
Floor Location : J 031 H

I wanted to find out more about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is a digestive disorder associated with stomach acid within the gastric cavity rising up through the lower esophageal sphincter, and up through the esophagus to cause heartburn. I chose to study the effectiveness of various antacids, and their doses, in varying amounts of stomach acid in order to determine which antacid was most effective in relieving heartburn. My investigative question was to determine which over the counter antacid was most effective at lowering the pH of stomach acid, thus lowering the burning feeling associated with GERD.  I used vinegar to simulate stomach acid. I hypothesized that Tums would be most effective, this was partially correct. The results of this experiment clearly show that Alka-Seltzer and Tums are the superior antacids for GERD heartburn use. Alka-Seltzer is most effective at raising stomach pH at double and triple doses, while Tums is best suited for use for single doses. This experiment shows that Tums should be used for mild (single dose) heartburn associated with GERD, while Alka-Seltzer (double and triple doses) should be used for more severe doses. GERD would be reduced if pregnant women with severe heartburn took a double or triple dose of Alka-Seltzer before bed (to ensure a good night’s sleep).   

The materials I used were: 1 pH meter (with pH solution), 6L of Heinz pure white vinegar, antacids which were: 11 Tums tablets, 11 Pepto Bismol tablets, 11 Rolaids tablets, 11 Calcium tablets and 11 tablets of Alka-Seltzer. I used three 250mL beakers, one dropper and 10 plates. The first step was to pour 100mL, 125mL and 150mL into three different beakers. I then measured the pH of the vinegar. After, I added one dose of antacid into the vinegar. After I waited for it to dissolve, I then measured the pH of the vinegar and antacid solution. I repeated this for every antacid in single, double, and triple doses of antacids. If the antacid was a solid, it was ground up.
I hypothesized that Tums would be most effective, and this was partially correct. A limitation in my study was the equipment. My pH meter was slow and the meter drifted after readings. Therefore, the results may not be as accurate because of the drifting meter.   
The findings of this experiment can benefit society because pregnant women will know which antacid to consume, depending on their pain level. Prior to these results, most pregnant women would most likely take Tums because it is very popular, even if they were in extreme pain. However, now they will know to consume Alka-Seltzer because of their elevated pain levels. The same scenario may occur with mild doses. A pregnant woman may take Pepto Bismol for a mild dose, not knowing that Tums would suit their pain level better. This will allow pregnant women suffering with GERD save money and get rid of their pain. Less pain will allow them to sleep better, which can be difficult for them.