We often hear people say, ‘I have acidity problems.’ But have you ever wondered what they mean by it? What happened when someone says they are suffering from acidity? How is acidity caused? What can you do to relieve the suffering caused by acidity? To answer all these questions, you must first understand what acidity means.
Table of Contents
What is acidity?
The food we eat goes into our stomach through the oesophagus. The gastric glands in your stomach create acid, which is necessary to digest the food. When the gastric glands create more acid than needed for the digestion process, you tend to feel a burning sensation below the breastbone. This condition is commonly called acidity.
Acidity, also called acid reflux, is a condition that is characterised by heartburn that is felt around the lower chest area. It is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe. The most common acid reflux symptom is a burning sensation in the chest, and pain. While most people suffer in pain, they do not realise that poor lifestyle choices are the main reason behind acidity.
When acidity symptoms occur more than twice a week, your doctor may diagnose you with Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Chronic acidity may lead to serious risks that include:
- Oesophagus damage: Oesophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. When acid moves back up and enters the oesophagus, it sets the stage for esophageal ulcers, oesophagitis, esophageal strictures, and Barrett’s Oesophagus.
- Increased risk of oesophagus cancer, which is more likely if you have a history of the condition in the family.
- Acid reflux can wear down the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities.
Causes of acidity
Acidity is caused due to excess production of acid in the stomach by the gastric glands. Factors that cause acidity include:
1. Unhealthy eating habits
- Skipping meals or eating at irregular times
- Eating just before sleeping
- Consumption of spicy food
- High intake of table salt
- Diet low in dietary fiber
2. Excessive consumption of certain food
- Drinks such as tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, soft drinks
- Extremely spicy food
- Fat rich food such as pizza, doughnuts, and fried food
3. Side-effects of certain temporary medications as well as existing medications. It includes medications such as
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Medicines for high blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety medications
4. Stomach disorder such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, tumours, peptic ulcers, among others.
5. Other causes include
- Consumption of non-vegetarian food
- Excessive stress
- Lack of sleep
- Frequent smoking
- Lack of physical exercise
- Frequent consumption of alcohol
People who suffer from medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, connective tissue disorder and such are more prone to acidity. It is also a common problem in people who are obese, pregnant women, or women who are nearing menopause.
Acidity symptoms differ from one person to another. Most things that contribute to gas also lead to acidity meaning, gas and acidity symptoms are almost similar. While the most common acid reflux symptoms are chest pain and burning sensation below the breastbone, there are other symptoms that are uncommon. Acidity symptoms include the following:
- Burning sensation and pain in the stomach
- Burning sensation and pain in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing or the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
- Frequent burping or hiccups for no apparent reason
- Burning sensation and pain in the chest
- Regurgitation: Prolonged sour taste in the mouth or bitter-tasting acid that backs up into your throat and mouth
- Post-meal heaviness
- Bad breath
Hyperacidity symptoms include:
- Heartburn: Persistent pain or discomfort that moves from your stomach to your chest and sometimes even up to your throat.
- Chronic discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Bloody or black stool often accompanied by bloody vomiting
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
While acidity symptoms in the chest is most times diagnosed as acidity, it is always recommended to visit your healthcare provider if the symptoms are persistent. Your doctor will diagnose either by taking an X-ray of the oesophagus and the stomach or with an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and suggest treatment.
When you visit your healthcare provider, your symptoms are considered to determine whether you have acidity or whether it is a possible complication of some other problem. Based on your condition and the depth of the acid reflux problem,
- You will be prescribed an antacid that contains aluminium, calcium or magnesium.
- Your doctor may also suggest the use of histamine blocking agents (H2 receptor blockers) such as cimetidine, nizatidine, ranitidine, and famotidine
- If the condition is severe, proton pump inhibitors may be prescribed
- If the condition is extremely severe, your doctor may suggest Vagotomy surgery that helps to reduce the production of acid in the stomach.
Your healthcare provider may be able to suggest certain do’s and don’ts based on your health, which will help you control acidity.
Home remedies for acidity
Acidity is a common problem that most of us face at least once in our life. Most of us prefer home remedies over medications. Some of the home remedies for acid reflux include the following.
- Coconut water: This tasty treat is known to soothe your stomach and the digestive system. Take at least two glasses a day.
- Watermelon juice: It is great to counter acidity. You can take a glass of watermelon juice with breakfast.
- Fresh lime juice that is taken at least an hour before lunch helps to reduce the uneasiness caused by acidity.
- A glass of buttermilk after a spicy meal helps reduce the uneasiness as buttermilk contains lactic acid that normalises acidity in the stomach
- You can either munch on a few basil leaves, or boil them in water and drink it frequently to reduce acid reflux. You can also do this with mint leaves.
- Drink a glass of lukewarm water after every meal
- Include banana, cucumber and yoghurt in your diet. They are known to give instant relief from acidity.
- Surprisingly, sucking on a piece of clove when you have acidity helps to reduce the symptoms.
- Ginger aids in digestion. Use ginger in your cooking or boil it in a glass of water, reduce to half glass and consume the water.
- Cumin is a great remedy for acidity. Munch on some cumin or boil a teaspoon of cumin in a glass of water. Boil until the water is reduced to half. Drink it on an empty stomach.
- Try chewing gum! As unbelievable as it may sound, chewing gum generates saliva that helps to move the food through the oesophagus.
- Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water every morning on an empty stomach.
- Drink at least two litres of water every day.
The main cause of acidity is your lifestyle, and hence, the most vital remedy is lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes that may help include:
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Consumption of healthy food
- Maintaining regular eating time with dinner ending at least two to three hours before bed
- Having small regular meals
- Following a low-carb diet
- Avoid food that triggers acidity such as raw onion and citrus juice
- Avoiding caffeine and carbonated drinks
- Avoid sleeping on your right side
- Cut down on smoking and alcohol
- Keeping your mind and body active
- Starting stress-relieving activities
- Try to avoid medications that cause acidity
Pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, heart attack, and chest wall pain and other chest complaints can be easily be confused with acid reflux. If home remedies do not help in reducing the symptoms of acidity, visit your healthcare provider immediately.
Acidity or acid reflux is a common problem that most of us face, some on a day to day basis. Most times, acidity is accompanied by gas. The reverse can also be true. The most common cause of acid reflux is the consumption of unhealthy food accompanied by alcohol and smoking. Food that has a lot of fat and spice results in a burning sensation in your chest, which is a common symptom of acid reflux.
When the symptoms are mild, home remedies aid in relieving the discomfort caused by the excessive acid produced. You can also take control of acid reflux with few lifestyle changes. But if the symptoms are severe, you may need immediate medical attention.
Acid reflux, in itself, is not a severe condition. But chronic acidity can cause other health problems that can damage the oesophagus. Acidity can be confused with other chest related problems that can be fatal. It is advised to visit your healthcare provider if the symptoms of acidity are persistent even after taking medication.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
A: Acidity or acid reflux is a very common condition affecting many Indians. This condition is characterized by heartburn felt around the lower chest area, which is caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the food pipe. The common causes are unhealthy eating habits and poor lifestyle choices.
A: The best way to cure acidity naturally is to have a glass of watermelon juice or coconut water. You could also include bananas, cucumber or yogurt in your diet. They are known to provide instant relief for acidity.
A: Mild cases of acid reflux can usually be prevented by adopting a few lifestyle changes. For example:
1. Avoid lying down for three hours after a meal.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
3. Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid pressure on your abdomen.
4. Lose excess weight.
5. Quit smoking.
6. Raise the head of your bed six to eight inches by placing wooden blocks under your bed posts. Bed risers are another option for doing this.
Several types of food can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Pay close attention to how you feel after eating different foods. Your triggers may include:
1. fatty or fried foods
4. carbonated beverages, such as soda
8. citrus fruits
11. tomato sauce
If you experience acid reflux or heartburn after eating certain foods, take steps to avoid them.