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Adverse Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate

By Jessica Bruso

Sodium bicarbonate helps get rid of excess acid in your body. It's also the active ingredient in baking soda, which helps baked goods that don't contain yeast rise. In the small amounts used in food, sodium bicarbonate isn't likely to cause adverse effects. However, in larger medicinal amounts, sodium bicarbonate may not be safe for everyone, so speak with your doctor before taking it.

Mild Side Effects

People who take sodium bicarbonate sometimes experience mild side effects, including gas, increased thirst and stomach cramps, but often don't experience any side effects when using it in small amounts. Don't take sodium bicarbonate more often than your doctor prescribes it, or you may increase your potential for more serious side effects.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any severe side effects, you should get medical attention right away. These include blood in your urine or stools, frequent urination, slow breathing, swelling in your feet or legs, loss of appetite, nausea, severe headache, vomiting, weakness or irritability. Although not common, an allergic reaction is also possible. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling, hives, itching, rash, difficulty breathing and muscle spasms.

Medication Interactions

Sodium bicarbonate may interact with certain medications, including pseudoephedrine, phentermine, antifungal medications, cephalexin, corticosteroids, other antacids, iron, lithium, vitamins, certain antibiotics, quinidine, ketoconazole, benzodiazepines, methenamine, methotrexate, flecainide and aspirin. Take sodium bicarbonate at least two hours before or after these medications to limit the potential for interactions.

Who Should Avoid Sodium Bicarbonate

Women who are pregnant and people who have liver problems, fluid retention, kidney disease, congestive heart failure or high blood pressure may need to avoid taking sodium bicarbonate. Because sodium bicarbonate is high in sodium, people at risk for high blood pressure may want to take care when using this medication. An increased sodium intake could make high blood pressure more likely, especially if you consume more than the recommended 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.

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