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Acidity is one of the most common problems faced by most of us, irrespective of age, contribution of lifestyles we follow today. From the young to the old aged, all of us experience acidity, some in fact experience it severely and even on a daily basis.

Acidity refers to a set of symptoms caused by an imbalance between the acid secreting mechanism of the stomach and proximal intestine and the protective mechanisms that ensure their safety.
Acid that is produced in our stomach helps in digesting the food we eat, but when there isn’t enough food to digest, or if this acid is produced more than the required quantity, it leads to acidity pangs. Among others, belching, nausea, vomiting and mouth ulcers are common symptoms of acidity.

One of the most common symptoms of acidity is heartburn.

  • Heartburn is a sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest that can but doesn’t always follow an occurrence of acid reflux. Heartburn is exactly what it would feel like if acid ate away at the lining of your esophagus, because that’s what’s happening.
  • Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates up into the esophagus. Reflux is the cause of heartburn. However, you may feel no pain at all when reflux occurs.

So we can have acid reflux without heartburn, but can’t have heartburn without acid reflux. Acid reflux is the cause, and heartburn is a potential sensation. If a person has frequent acid reflux, he may have acid reflux disease. Acid reflux disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the same thing; both terms refer to a chronic condition.

Basic causes of acidity

1. Bacteria Helicobacter Pylori: It is usually contracted during childhood and in most people is present in the stomach though it does not cause any problems. In others, Helicobacter Pylori causes increased release of pepsin, which further causes acidity.

2. Born acidic (Zollinger Ellison syndrome): Some people are said to be born acidic with no specific cause for acidity. Their bodies produce increased excess acid.

3. Foods: Amongst the primary causes of acidity are the inappropriate food habits of today. Excessive intake of hot, spicy, fried foods, strong chocolate, tea, coffee, garlic, onions, non-vegetarian diets etc cause acidity. Acidity also arises by keeping the stomach empty for long time, by skipping breakfast.

4. Lifestyle: The lifestyles we follow today also have a major role in causing acidity. Excessive intakes of alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep, stress, anger, fear, excess worrying etc cause acidity. Also, intakes of anti-inflammatory medicines like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s), and conditions like pregnancy, aging, obesity etc lead to acidity.

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of excess stomach acid. Water has a neutral pH, meaning it is neither an acid nor a base. When your body has sufficient amounts of water, it can naturally regulate the acidity of the stomach content.

Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can therefore also contribute to excess stomach acid buildup.

Symptoms

  1. Dyspepsia and heartburn are often the main symptoms of acidity.
  2. Heartburn is characterized by a deeply placed, burning pain in the chest behind the sternum (breast-bone).
  3. It occurs after meals and is brought on by excess intra-abdominal pressure like lifting weights or straining.
  4. It can also occur at night on lying down and is relieved when the individual sits up. The pain is very closely related to posture.
  5. The symptoms of ulcers are mainly pain that can be either localized or diffused. Sometimes it radiates to the back or to the chest.
  6. The most common symptom is dyspepsia, a burning or aching pain in the upper abdomen sometimes described as a “stabbing feeling penetrating through the width of the gut”. Rarely, there is no pain at all, but only a feeling of indigestion or nausea. Eating a meal usually relieves the pain in duodenal ulcer, but in a gastric ulcer there may be no change, or the pain may become worse.
  7. Peptic ulcer disease can sometimes occur without symptoms. Symptoms may also arise when there is no ulcer present, which is known as non-ulcer dyspepsia.
  8. Other symptoms may include bad breath, hair loss, belching or nasal congestion.

Treatment-

Follow some Home remedies to avoid acidity

    1. Drink water the moment you get up in the morning. This would flush out, the excess acid in the stomach and other unwanted material that would have accumulated during the night.
    2. Coconut water taken at least thrice daily helps in fighting acidity.
    3. Include banana, watermelon and cucumber in your daily diet. Watermelon juice is great for curing acidity.
    4. Drink a glass of milk – everyday.
    5. After all three meals take a small piece of jaggery and keep it in your mouth and suck.
    6. Chewing tulsi leaves can give a big relief from acidity by calming down the burning sensation and gas.
    7. Drink lemon juice with addition of equal amounts of salt and sugar.
    8. Mint juice is another contender in ayurveda treatment for acidity cures. Chew mint to soothe the acidic content of the stomach and help promote effective digestion and decreased symptoms associated with acid buildup.
    9. Drink cold milk to receive instant relief from heartburn and acidity.
    10. You can also go for coriander seeds and aniseed or sauf to get instant relief from acidity.
    11.  Drink lukewarm water regularly, it has great relieving capacity from acidity problem.
    12.  Avoid aerated drinks and avoid caffeine as it is the main problem of causing acidity problem. Instead of having aerated drinks and caffeine, one should have herbal tea.
    13.  Overeating is another important cause of acidity problem, hence you should avoid overeating.
    14.  Keeping long intervals between meals is another cause for acidity. Have small but regular meals.
    15.  Try to take your meal two to three hours before going to bed. It one of the      most important habit that one should  follow in their routine to control the acidity problem.
    16.  Boil one cup of water. To this add 1 tsp of Aniseed (Saunf). Cover and leave overnight. Strain the water in the  morning, add 1 tsp of honey. When this is taken 3 times a day it prevents acidity.
    17.  To 1 ½ liters of water add 1 tsp Caraway seeds (shah jeera). Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Sip while  warm. Have the concoction 2-3 times a day for 5-6 days.
    18. Always try to avoid pickles, spicy chutneys, vinegar, etc. from your diet.

Follow some healthy practices to avoid acidity

  1. Eat meals slowly to avoid ingesting excess air.
  2. Avoid eating very large meals.
  3. Avoid carbonated beverages and legumes which can also increase the amount of gas produced in the stomach.
  4. Engage in relaxation techniques and stress relieving activities.
  5. Fatty and oil food rich in acidic contents should be avoided.
  6. Exercise regularly. Exercise is important for maintaining overall body health and will contribute to easing symptoms of indigestion, especially as a source of reducing stress buildup. Be sure to keep well hydrated when exercising.

Precaution

  1. Overdose of antacid tablets or other acid reducing medications or treatments, may affect your digestion and your nutrition may also suffer. If you experience persistent stomach acid symptoms, consult a physician.
  2. Milk and antacids are not advised as long-term solutions: both will increase overall acid production in our stomach. You may try drinking something acidic, like orange juice, which can be initially painful (just as milk is initially soothing) but counter-intuitively reduces acid production in one’s stomach over the long term.
  3. The use of prescription antacids that reduce the stomach acid can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency which can in turn cause pernicious anemia.

But in case of continuous acid reflex and heart burn always consult the physician and dietician and follow prescribed medicines and diet to being healthy.

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