Digestive Health Service

Digestive Health

If you suffer from digestive symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, constipation, reflux or heartburn, your Amcal pharmacist is here to help with the right products and expert advice for you.

The digestive system is an intricate and extensive part of your body. This system helps your body absorb essential nutrients to keep you healthy, protects you from bad bacteria and disease and is responsible for getting rid of waste. Digestive problems can be bigger than unwanted side effects and minor symptoms like bloating, reflux, heartburn, constipation and diarrhoea– that’s why Amcal is here to help!

Don’t ignore your tummy troubles. Ask your Amcal pharmacist for digestive health advice today.

The guts of the problem in Australia

With Australia’s love of all things food, from backyard barbies to dining out on our melting pot of global cuisines, we’re experiencing a surge in gut health issues, with approximately 10 – 15% of Aussies experiencing reflux symptoms. 1

Changes in diet including low fibre and high fat consumption, smoking, vaping and drinking alcohol, plus lifestyle changes and obesity can all contribute to gut microbiome disruption and unpleasant digestive symptoms.

Our experienced Amcal pharmacists can help you get to the bottom of your digestive issues.

Gastric reflux

Changes in dietary habits can change the balance of your gut health. If you’re prone to reflux or an upset tummy, you can prepare by taking specific supplements and keeping symptom relief nearby. Your Amcal pharmacist is here to help find the right products for you!

What is Gastric reflux?

Reflux is a condition that causes the contents of your stomach to wash back up into your oesophagus, throat and mouth. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is chronic acid reflux with symptoms that occur more than twice a week or last for weeks or months. Approximately 10 – 15% of Australians experience reflux symptoms2 ranging from mild discomfort to cough, belching, water brash (sour acid taste in the mouth), burning sensation, rising sensation associated with eating meals and heartburn with chest pain which may seem to radiate from your stomach up your throat.

Your Amcal pharmacist can help manage symptoms and suggest lifestyle changes to help minimise the impact on your daily life.


Trust your gut

The digestive system is responsible for a number of major roles in the body, particularly extracting all the important nutrients from food, and protecting us from bad bacteria and disease.

That’s why it is so important to take care of your digestive system and give it the support it needs. Symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, reflux or bloating could be a sign your digestive system needs a bit of help.

Whether you’re experiencing heartburn in pregnancy, need to relieve the pain and discomfort of indigestion, or want fast relief from the symptoms of acid reflux, speak to your Amcal pharmacist to see what's right for you.

How we can help with reflux

If you’re experiencing reflux, our expert team of qualified pharmacists will explore the root cause of the problem, which may include:

  • Smoking (nicotine in cigarettes and vapes relaxes the sphincter in the oesophagus, increasing reflux)
  • Drinking alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate symptoms by reducing stomach acid pH
  • Obesity, which can lead to increased abdominal pressure and slower stomach emptying
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) due to gut microbiome disruption caused by stress and food intolerance

Speak to your Amcal pharmacy for tips and advice on managing reflux today.

Common digestive health symptoms

  • Reflux Heart burn or reflux is something which can affect all of us from time to time. Overindulgence is often the reason for gastric acid moving up into the oesophagus. This causes a burning sensation behind the breast bone.

  • Cramping Abdominal or stomach cramps may have many different causes, including indigestion, infection and menstrual cramps. Most abdominal pain will resolve quickly and can be treated with pharmacy medicines, hot packs and plenty of rest and fluids.

  • Diarrhoea Most cases of diarrhoea are self-limiting and resolve after a day or two, but treatment is still important. Ensure you keep well-hydrated, use medication if recommended and ensure you maintain good handwashing as many causes of diarrhoea are contagious. 

  • Constipation The most common causes of constipation include a change in routine or diet, low fibre intake, not enough fluids and lack of exercise. Your Amcal pharmacist can help you find the best treatment option for you, which may include dietary changes, fibre supplements, laxatives or even a medication review.

Best use of gut products

With our pharmacists always available to provide expert advice, Amcal is your one-stop shop for navigating the huge choice of digestive advice and products.

In the words of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, "all disease begins in the gut.“ Your Amcal pharmacist can help guide you with the best treatment for digestive health issues to help improve your overall health and wellbeing.

  • Whether you’re living with leaky gut or bacterial overgrowth, we can help with the best probiotics
  • For GORD and reflux, we can suggest the best short-term over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for 14-day usage to help manage the condition
  • The best management for diarrhoea including oral rehydration products
  • Antacids for breakthrough symptoms
  • The most appropriate laxative for constipation, with bulk-forming, stool-softening, stimulant and osmotic products to choose from
  • Lifestyle changes like losing weight and identifying and avoiding known triggers

Golden rules for good gut health

Your team at Amcal are experts in digestive health and can advise on the best fibre supplements, prebiotics, probiotics, laxatives, medications or lifestyle advice for you to better manage your symptoms.

Don’t ignore your tummy troubles

Constipation and the risks of holding on

Constipation occurs when the colon can't pass or move stools through the rest of the digestive tract. Constipation isn’t just a common childhood condition – approximately 1 in 5 of us over 30 experience constipation at some point in our lives.3 A person is generally constipated if they have at least two of the following:

  • Less than three bowel movements a week
  • Hard, dry, lumpy stools
  • Excessive straining in 25% of bowel movements
  • Accompanying abdominal pain and bloating
  • Sensation of incomplete emptying

This can be caused by a poor, low-fibre diet, stress, inadequate water drinking, some medications, inactivity, toilet hesitancy and lifestyle impacts.

Your Amcal pharmacist can guide you with appropriate lifestyle and dietary advice and suggest fibre supplementation, probiotics and the most appropriate type of laxative.

Had a gutful of bellyache?

Diarrhoea is typically experienced as loose, watery stools and feeling the urgent need to have a bowel movement multiple times a day. It can last for 1 – 2 days due to a mild infection or parasite from something you ate or drank, or longer than 3 – 4 weeks if due to an underlying inflammatory condition (such as irritable bowel syndrome) or food intolerance, meaning your digestive system can't tolerate certain foods.

Unlike food allergies which can cause hives, respiratory problems or potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis, an intolerance only affects digestion.

Your Amcal pharmacist can help with treatment options for diarrhoea including electrolyte replacement drinks to help replace lost salts, glucose and fluid, and may consider medical referral if an acute infection is suspected.

Frequently asked questions

Many parts of modern living can impact our digestive health. Be mindful of high stress levels, lack of sleep and eating large amounts of high-sugar foods(which are a great food source for all the bad bacteria) If you suffer from digestive symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, constipation, reflux or heartburn, your Amcal pharmacist is here to help with the right products and expert advice for you(to help restore the balance in your digestive system). Don’t forget it’s always a good idea to eat healthy, exercise, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep!

The gut-brain axis is the direct connection between the gut and the brain via nerves and neurotransmitters. This shows that gut health has a huge impact on the health of the brain and vice-versa. Our gut-brain axis is also connected through the immune system as the gut and gut microbes play an important role in your immune system and inflammatory responses by controlling what is passed into the body and what is excreted. Interestingly, many of these neurotransmitters are also produced by your gut cells and the trillions of microbes living there. A large proportion of serotonin is produced in the gut which helps stabilise your mood and feelings of happiness. In addition, your gut microbes also produce a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety

PPIs and antacids should only be taken for short periods of time. Antacids including alginates tend to be used for breakthrough symptoms and stopped once resolved. The PPIs are not to be taken symptomatically, and although indicated for short-term use (maximum of 14 days) should be taken at the same time each day and reduced once symptoms are controlled. Long-term use of PPIs i.e longer than 8 weeks are prescribed for patients with Barrett’s oesophagus or other conditions under medical supervision.

Probiotics are live bacteria that impart health benefits if eaten. However, not all probiotics are the same and your Amcal pharmacist will help you decide if they may be right for you. Different probiotics have been found to address different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type — or types — of probiotics is essential, your Amcal pharmacist can help navigate the vast array available.

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a type of gastrointestinal disorder that causes frequent changes in your bowel movements. People with IBS may also have other symptoms such as abdominal pain as well as constipation or diarrhoea. It is due to disruptions in the way your brain and gut interact with one another and likely connected to other underlying medical issues. In addition to medical advice received from your doctor, your Amcal pharmacist can help direct you with the best medical treatment including Iberosig, a combination of 9 extracts in a liquid solution which can help reduce symptoms of bloating associated with IBS.

Your Amcal pharmacist can guide you with myDNA’s Personalised Wellness Kit which can offer tailored meal plans to address food intolerances based on your DNA profile. MyDNA also offers insights on the most popular prescribed gastrointestinal medications and whether they may be suited to you. Don’t ignore your tummy troubles. Just ask your Amcal pharmacist for digestive health advice todaty.

Your Amcal pharmacist can advise you on the need for medical referral. This usually occurs after prolonged changes in bowel movements, blood in the stools, irregular stool samples, excessive bloating, nausea, vomiting, extreme changes in weight or uncontrolled symptom management.

Just ask Amcal

Most Australians experience some gut issue during their lifetime, and they’re usually self-limiting and temporary.

For help managing digestive health issues, just ask your Amcal pharmacist.

Book a Digestive Health Consultation with one of our expert pharmacists.

Australia’s largest pharmacy network and home to expert health advice and service.

1. https://www.cbhs.com.au/mind-and-body/blog/reflux-symptoms-causes-and-foods-to-avoid

2. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gord-reflux

3. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/prevent-treat-manage-constipation