Acidity: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Tips
Regardless of your age and gender, acidity is something that you’ve probably experienced at some point or the other. This uncomfortable sensation can be quite alarming, especially if it occurs on a regular basis.
Today, we are going to discuss this topic in-depth and outline a few tips on acidity for you to follow.
Table of contents:
- What is Acidity?
- What are the Causes of Acidity?
- How to Treat Acidity?
- Tips to Prevent/Relieve Acidity
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is acidity?
Acidity is the layman’s term for a condition known as acid reflux. It is caused due to the backward flow of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. When active, the individual experiences an uncomfortable burning sensation at any point between their stomach and throat. This is known as heartburn.
It is usually accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- A cough
- Hoarse voice or a sore throat
- Bad breath
- Feeling sick
These symptoms usually get worse after meals and when a person bends or is lying down.
While acidity is something that most individuals experience from time to time, it is not considered chronic. That said, GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a type of acid reflux that is both chronic and severe in nature.
Typically acidity is considered to be quite harmless. However, people with GERD are at risk of experiencing more serious health conditions such as oesophagitis and a higher risk of cancer.
What are the causes of acidity?
As with most medical conditions, acidity can be caused by a variety of reasons ranging from one’s weight to one’s stress level and medication. Let’s discuss the main causes in more detail.
As you gain weight, your abdomen gets bigger and heavier. This occurs due to the fat that surrounds the muscles of the stomach. When you exceed your category weight limit, the fat starts putting pressure on the stomach. If too much pressure is placed on the stomach, it responds by pushing the acidic contents of the stomach upward into the esophagus, which eventually results in acidity.
The esophageal sphincter is a tight circular band that is present at the top of the stomach. This band is important because it prevents the semi-digested and digested food from leaving the stomach. During pregnancy, the woman’s body releases several hormones in order to aid the pregnancy process. These hormones cause the sphincter to relax, which eventually allows the partially digested food and stomach acids to travel back up into the esophagus. Furthermore, the activity is worsened by the presence of the pregnancy hormone progesterone. It slows down the digestion process, which eventually results in the backward flow of undigested food.
As with pregnancy, the nicotine present in tobacco can also loosen the lower esophageal sphincter. This enables the stomach acids and partially digested food to leave the stomach and enter the esophagus, which causes the individual to experience acidity.
4. Certain types of food
Today, many researchers believe that the acid-forming substances present in one’s food and drink could lower their PH levels. When individuals over consume these foods, they experience an acid buildup in their body. This eventually results in one experiencing acidity and heartburn.
It is advised that you avoid any caffeinated, spicy, fatty, as well as highly processed foods when dealing with acidity. These include coffee, alcohol, colas, and chocolate.
5. Anxiety or stress
Acid reflux is a common symptom of panic attacks and stress in general. While there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim, many researchers hypothesize that extreme stress could cause one’s brain to hypersensitive its pain receptors. This could make your body more receptive to its acid levels and could result in acid reflux.
While medicine is an important part of life, there’s no ignoring its long list of side effects. Acidity is one such side effect that is listed by many medications. This is especially true for painkillers such as Ibuprofen.
7. Other medical conditions
It is quite common for people to encounter acidity due to various medical conditions such as a hiatus or hiatal hernia. This condition occurs due to the widening of the diaphragm hole; the area through which food and liquid pass from the esophagus to the stomach. If the hole is wide enough, it could cause the stomach content to travel upward into the esophagus and result in acid reflux.
How to treat acidity?
Thankfully, acid reflux is a condition that’s quite easy to control. That said, it does require a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Let’s discuss this a little more in-depth.
There are several over-the-counter medications available for the treatment of acidity. And while this may work in the short run, we recommend consulting a doctor and creating a long term plan of action based on the condition’s underlying causes.
2. Sleeping time and position
Maintaining a gap of at least 2-3 hours between your mealtime and sleep time is important. It allows food to digest properly and prevent avoid reflux.
Believe it or not, the height and angle of your bed could actually impact your acidity. This is because you are more prone to developing acid reflux when your stomach is in the same line as your esophagus. To prevent this, raise the head of the mattress by 10 cm – 20 cm by placing a few rolled-up towels at one end of it.
3. Try to lose weight
As touched upon before, obesity could cause severe acidity. Hence, it’s important you take the necessary steps required to prevent it. Start by exercising at least 4 times a week and try to avoid deep-fried, fatty, & relatively unhealthy food by replacing it with a good amount of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
4. Visit a nutritionist
If you experience heartburn on a regular basis, it is probably a good idea to consult a nutritionist. They will give you a better understanding of the food that triggers you and will help you create a well-rounded diet plan suited to your personal requirements. Diet modifications will not only help in keeping acidity under control but also will help in healthy weight loss over a period of time.
Tips to prevent/relieve acidity
#1 Aloe Vera juice
Start the day with aloe vera juice that may help in healing your intestine.
#2 Fennel seeds
Drink fennel tea twice a day or chew 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals.
#3 Portion control
The most important thing to remember (other than what to avoid) is to swap out your large meals for smaller ones. This will help your body digest food at a quicker pace which will go a long way in preventing acid reflux.
#4 Chew slowly and steadily
Proper digestion starts in your mouth. When eating, be sure to chew your food thoroughly to get the full benefits out of it. Chewing your food slowly and steadily can improve your digestion, help you eat less, and enhance your overall eating experience.
#5 Apple cider vinegar
Mix 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in 150 ml water and drink it 30 minutes before meals. Refrain from drinking water during meals and 40-50 minutes after meals.
#6 Papaya and pineapple
Add fresh papaya and/or pineapple to your diet plan to aid digestion.
#7 Foods that are easy to digest
Eat easy to digest foods like rice, dal, khichdi, and gruel. Refrain from eating fried food, sodas, caffeine, onions, tomatoes, sugar, spicy, or heavily seasoned foods.
Add probiotic foods like curd or supplement to promote good bacteria.
Indulge in a form of physical activity such as walking, yoga, and aerobics 3-4 times a week.
#10 Loose-fitting clothes
Wear clothes that are easy to breathe in. Make sure the waistband of your pants is not too tight.
Regardless of the circumstance, changing your eating habits can be quite tough. But by making diet and lifestyle modifications, you may not only keep your acidity at bay but also feel healthier and lighter than before.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is heartburn?
A. Heartburn is the burning sensation that an individual experiences anywhere between their stomach and throat. It is caused due to acidity and requires various lifestyle changes to get under control. This symptom is often accompanied by a coughing fit, hiccups, sore throat, bad breath, bloating, dizziness, and/or vomiting.Q. Can acidity be treated?
A. While types of acidity, such as GERD cannot be cured, there are several over-the-top medications that you can use to help you cope with the condition. You can also modify your diet and workout plan or try to lose extra weight. But it is best to consult with your doctor and discuss treatment options.
Q. Is managing your diet important for preventing acidity?
A. Yes, it is! Your weight and the type of food you eat are two of the main causes of acidity. Hence, to prevent frequent heartburns, it’s important that you manage your diet accordingly.Q. Do acidic people have multiple symptoms?
A. Yes! Besides heartburn, these people experience excess burping, bloating, and hiccuping. They can also experience nausea and dysphagia.