Acidity

Overview of Acidity

Acidity or تیزابیت is one of the most common health issues that each one of us must have suffered at least once in a lifetime. In simple language, this condition causes the production of excess acid in your stomach. Apart from causing discomfort in the stomach, it causes indigestion, a sour taste in the mouth and difficulty in swallowing.

From poor eating habits, and extreme stress to the use of certain medications, there are various causes of acidity. If you have suffered from acidity once then it is not a big issue, however, if the spells of acidity have increased or are frequent then it is a sign of underlying disorder or health condition.

You can cope with acidity with a slight change in your lifestyle and eating habits. Over-the-counter medications are also used that are known to neutralize or reduce the acid.

Acidity Meaning in Urdu

ایسڈیٹی کو معدے کی جلن بھی کہا جاتا ہے۔ معدے میں جب ضرورت سے زائد ایسڈ بننا شروع ہو جائے تو ایسڈیٹی کی علامات لاحق ہو جاتی ہیں۔ معدے میں نارمل مقدار میں ایسڈ بننا نہایت ضروری ہوتا ہے کیوں کہ یہ کھانا ہضم کرنے میں مدد فراہم کرتا ہے۔ تاہم اگر یہ ضرورت سے زائد بننا شروع ہو جائے تو معدے کی جھلی متاثر ہو سکتی ہے اور یہ ایسڈ غذا کی نالی میں بھی وآپس آ سکتا ہے۔ معدے کی جلن سے نجات حاصل کرنے کے لیے ایسی غذائیں استعمال کرنے کا مشورہ دیا جاتا ہے جو مؤثر طریقے سے ایسڈ کی مقدار کو کم کرتی ہیں۔

Key Facts about Acidity

  • It is mostly seen in people above 30 years of age. But, current stats show that it can affect anyone.
  • Both women and men are affected by acidity.
  • The stomach, oesophagus and intestine are involved in acidity.
  • As per stats, more than 12% of people worldwide suffer from acidity.
  • Acidity can mimic other health conditions such as GERD, peptic ulcer disease, achalasia, dyspepsia and gastroparesis.

How does Acidity Occur?

What we eat enters the stomach via the oesophagus. The acid in the stomach is responsible for digesting the food and killing harmful microorganisms or germs. Acidity occurs when the stomach is secreted in a larger amount, more than is needed. This condition is usually characterized by a burning sensation either below the hollow part of the breastbone or just above the stomach.

It is one of the common conditions in Pakistan due to excess consumption of spicy, fried and oily food items.

Signs and Symptoms of Acidity

The acidity symptoms start to appear when the acid from the stomach flows back up into the food pipe or oesophagus. This happens when the valve between the stomach and oesophagus fails to work properly and thus stomach contents are then thrown up back to the oesophagus. Following symptoms appear due to this.

  • Heartburn – It is one of the common symptoms of acidity but it has nothing to do with the heart. It occurs when the acid of the stomach leaks out and is regurgitated back into the oesophagus. This causes a burning sensation in the chest. It can last for a few minutes to several hours.
  • Regurgitation – It can occur in some people suffering from acidity. In this, you may feel that undigested food or liquid is coming back to the throat and moving up and down. It can make you feel nauseous or pukish. This symptom normally occurs during exercise or bending after eating food or post meals.
  • Sour Taste in Mouth – It is also one of the common symptoms in which your mouth feels sour. This happens when the acid of the stomach leaks and moves back of your throat. This is normally accompanied during regurgitation.
  • Sore Throat – Voicebox and vocal cord can be affected when the acid from the stomach moves into the throat leading to a sore throat.
  • Difficulty in Swallowing – It is also known as dysphagia. In this condition, the excess acid in the stomach makes you feel full thus difficulty in swallowing food. It can further affect the food movement by delaying it into the food pipe and hindering digestion.
  • Indigestion – It can also be one of the key signs of acidity. Indigestion can cause a burning sensation or feeling of discomfort in the stomach (upper middle part).

Other acidity symptoms include

  • Bad breath
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Black stools or bloody vomiting
  • Hiccups that don’t stop
  • Weight loss without any apparent reason
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness

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Causes of Acidity

Some of the major causes of acidity are:

Eating Habits

Food and dietary factors are one of the major causes of acidity and it includes:

  • Eating spicy foods that have excess of pepper, chillies, paprika, vinegar etc
  • Oily and deep-fried foods
  • Excess consumption of caffeine in the form of chocolate, coffee and tea
  • Diet low in fibre
  • Excess intake of salt
  • Irregular eating patterns or overeating
  • Lying down just after eating
  • Eating before doing exercise

Lifestyle Factors

Following are some of the lifestyle factors that cause acidity

  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excess smoking
  • Excess intake of soda, alcohol or carbonated drinks

Health Condition

Some health conditions can also cause acidity such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Fear or depression
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Stomach cancer

Medication

Medications can also be one of the causes of acidity. Such medications include:

 

  • Painkillers
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Chemotherapy
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Risk Factors of Acidity

People who are prone to acidity include are those:

  • Who are obese
  • Who eat spicy food
  • Who drink alcohol
  • Who eat mostly non-vegetarian food
  • Women in perimenopause
  • Who take NSAIDs
  • Pregnant women
  • Women who are on hormone therapy
  • People who are suffering from hiatal hernia, asthma, diabetes, connective tissue disorders, peptic ulcers or Zollinger- Ellison syndrome

Complications of Acidity

Complications of the acidity can be:

  • Excessive vomiting
  • Severe pain in the chest or abdomen region
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Cancer

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Prevention

There are a few simple and effective tricks that can help you manage and prevent acidity. These include:

  • Eat Frequent Small Meals – Overeating can put extra pressure on the muscle LES or lower oesophagal sphincter muscle. Therefore, small but frequent meals can help cope with acidity.
  • Chew Food Properly – You need to chew your food properly and eat slowly. It not only breaks the food but also helps indigestion. Thus helping in preventing heartburn, indigestion and acidity.
  • Eat Low-Carb Diet – Eating a diet low in carbohydrates can not only help in preventing obesity but can also reduce symptoms of heartburn.
  • Reduce Spicy and Fried Foods Consumption – Eating foods rich in spices increases the production of gastric acid. Spicy and fried foods trigger excess production of acid and can also slow the digestion process.
  • Avoid Eating Late at Night – Unhealthy eating habits are one of the leading causes of many health issues. Eating late at night is one such factor. Whether, you are eating due to work pressure, emotional eating or just snacking, eating late at night would simply lead to heartburn. So, avoid eating late at night, especially just before going to bed.
  • Reduce Intake of Carbonated and Caffeine Beverages – Whether its caffeine-rich foods such as tea, coffee or carbonated beverages, both increases acid reflux in the stomach. This is due to the excess production of gastric acid. Carbonated drinks put an extra burden on the LES because the bubbles in the carbonated drinks expand in the stomach which causes regurgitation.
  • Avoid Strenuous Exercise or Physical Activity Right after Eating – Your digestion process can be affected severely if you do any strenuous activity right after eating food. It causes the acid to move back to your oesophagus. Ultimately it can lead to acidity and worsen your symptoms. So, you need to give time to your stomach to do its work properly.
  • Try Losing Weight – Obesity is one of the leading causes of many health issues. If you are obese, try considering losing weight, as it can help you in managing and reducing symptoms of acidity. The excess fat especially in the abdomen region put extra pressure on your stomach and hinder the work of LES.
  • Avoid Smoking – Smoking is extremely injurious to health. Smoking triggers acidity by relaxing the LES. For this particular reason, smoking is one of the main prevention tips as it causes various health issues.
  • Avoid Drinking Alcohol – Alcohol is poison for your health. The more you drink, the more you suffer from acidity and many other health issues. It can further worsen your symptoms of acidity and heartburn. It affects the lining of the stomach and affects the ability of LES to clean the excess stomach acid. So, you need to avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid Sleeping Right After Eating Food – You need to eat at least 3 hours before sleeping. This way you can allow your stomach to digest food properly. If you sleep after your meals, it would only put pressure on your stomach and LES and make you suffer from acidity.
  • Elevate the Head of Bed – In order to improve sleeping and reduce acidity, you can opt for raising the head of your bed by 15-20 cm. You can do this by using a foam wedge for supporting the upper part of your body.
  • Keep a Check on Your Medicines – Certain medications can cause acidity and heartburn. So, you need to talk to your doctor properly about any side effects such as acidity.
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Diagnosis

If your acidity symptoms last for more than 2 weeks and medications don’t work, you need to consult your doctor. Symptoms such as heartburn, discomfort or burning pain are key factors in the diagnosis of acidity.

If the symptoms are mild, your doctor won’t recommend any test. However, if the symptoms are worse such as difficulty in swallowing or severe internal bleeding, your doctor would recommend the following tests:

  • pH Monitoring – This test is used to measure the pH of the stomach. This test tells how much acid has entered the food pipe and for how long, it can stay in the stomach.
  • Endoscopy of Upper GI Tract – In this endoscopy test, with the help of a thin tube called an endoscope, oesophagus, stomach and small intestine is examined.
  • Barium Swallow (Esophagram) – In this test you are required to drink a solution of liquid barium nitrate. After this X-ray of your upper abdomen and chest is taken in order to identify any complications or abnormalities in the oesophagus or stomach.
  • Esophageal Manometry – In this test, LES or lower esophageal sphincter muscle is monitored. By this test, your doctor will check if LES is working properly or not. It can also help your doctor to check if the food is properly moving through the oesophagus or not.
  • ECG – In some cases, your doctor will also recommend an ECG test if you have symptoms of heart pain or discomfort as it might be due to any heart condition.
  • Biopsy – Depending upon your symptoms, your doctor may also recommend a biopsy or other tests for any abnormalities or infections.

Treatment of Acidity | When to Consult a Doctor

The treatment for acidity is based on either neutralizing the effect of acidity or blocking the production of stomach acids.

Medication

On the basis of the mode of action medication for acidity is divided into the following types

1: Antacids

These medications neutralize the stomach acid and thus provide relief from heartburn and acidity. Antacids provide quick relief from acidity and are known as “Stomach acid neutralizers”. These medicines are available in both syrups and in tablet form.

Examples of drugs in this class of medicines are:

  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Magnesium carbonate
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Magnesium trisilicate

These medications can have side effects depending upon the type of ingredient. For example, if it contains magnesium hydroxide, it can cause diarrhea and if it has aluminium hydroxide, it can cause constipation. There can be long term side effects such as swelling of hands and feet, gas, diarrhea and constipation.

2: H2 Receptor Blockers

These medications help fight against acidity by blocking the certain receptors present on the cells of the stomach. H2 receptor blockers are also used to treat damaged tissues of the stomach due to stomach inflammation or gastritis and peptic ulcer. A common side effects of these medicines are diarrhea and abdominal pain. These medications are not recommended for pregnant women as they can cause fetal side effects and abortion.

Examples of such drugs are:

  • Nizatidine
  • Ranitidine
  • Famotidine

3: Coating Drugs

These medicines belong to the protective class of drugs as they protect the lining of the stomach and oesophagus. These medications are considered safe and are recommended for the short term. These medicines are recommended for people suffering from peptic ulcer or stomach ulcer disease.

Examples of this class of drug include

  • Colloidal bismuth (CBS)
  • Carbenoxolone
  • Sucralfate

4: Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI)

These medicines provide relief from acidity by reducing and blocking the production of the stomach. These medications are available both as prescribed and over the counter drugs. PPIs are normally given to those patients who don’t show recovery signs by diet or lifestyle changes. It is also given to patients who regularly suffer from gastric symptoms.

Side effects of these medications include diarrhea, headache and upset stomach. The long term side effects of PPI are not completely known so you need to talk to your doctor before taking it.

Examples of PPI drugs are:

  • Esomeprazole
  • Omeprazole
  • Lansoprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Rabeprazole

5: Prokinetic Drugs

The mode of action of these drugs depend upon promoting proper oesophagus contraction and helping the stomach in proper digestion and emptying. These medications are mostly recommended for people suffering from GERD. Prokinetic drugs are also used in combination with other drugs such as H2 receptor blockers or PPIs.

Agitation, drowsiness and diarrhea are some of the common side effects of prokinetic drugs. Examples of prokinetic drugs are:

  • Domperidone
  • Levosulpiride
  • Metoclopramide
  • Mosapride

Home Remedies for Acidity

You can also get help from some of these home remedies to get relief from acidity.

1: Cold Milk

Cold, not warm milk, is proven to be beneficial in coping with acidity. You need to drink it alone without adding sugar, honey or turmeric to it. Milk is rich in calcium and plays a role in preventing acid buildup. It neutralizes the acidic effect of stomach acid by absorbing the excess acid.

2: Cinnamon (Dalchini)

It relieves acidity by helping in the digestion process of the stomach. It contains phytochemicals that aid in this process. You need to add a pinch of cinnamon in water or a teaspoon of honey and drink it after every meal to get relief from acidity. However, if you are allergic to any food ingredient, you need to consult your doctor first.

3: Tulsi Leaves

Anti-ulcer properties are present in the leaves of tulsi, due to this, it helps in lowering the level of stomach acid. It also helps in the production of more mucus in the stomach and therefore aids in neutralizing the excess gastric acid in the stomach. You need to chew 4-5 leaves of tulsi and swallow its juice. It will help you get relief from the burning sensation in the chest and stomach.

4: Cumin Seeds (Zeera)

Cumin seeds contain certain compounds that act as natural carminative and digestive agents. Zeera help in fighting off acidity that is caused by gas or indigestion. It also helps in relieving discomfort and stomach pain by relieving the symptoms of acidity.

You need to add ¼ to ½ teaspoons of zeera in a cup of water. Boil it until its colour darkens. Stain it properly and drink it when it’s lukewarm at a regular interval throughout the day.

Can Acidity be treated via Surgery?

If the medications are not working and acidity is affecting daily life activities and overall health in general, then medical health practitioner would recommend surgery.

There are two types of surgeries that are currently approved for acidity treatment. The first one is surgically placing the ring (known as LINX) around the oesophagus. It can prevent the backflow of acid in the oesophagus. If you are allergic to certain metals, you should never get this treatment.

Fundoplication is another type of surgery that can help prevent acidity. Surgeons perform this surgery either by an open incision method in the abdomen or chest or with the help of a light tube that is inserted in the stomach.

 

It should be noted here that these procedures are recommended as a last resort when all other treatment procedures fail.

Doctors to treat Acidity

Last updated on Monday 21/11/2022

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