Overview of Acidity
The stomach secrets acid which is essential for digestive process and that same acid help to break down the food during digestion. Acidity is caused by excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach, more than what is needed for the digestion process. It is a very common condition affecting many peoples. Acidity causes symptoms such as heartburn, the formation of ulcers, dyspepsia, etc.
Very few people realize that acidity usually occurs because of an unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. People who often consume spicy food, non-vegetarian food, overindulge in alcohol, smoke cigarette, pregnant, overweight are more prone to acidity. Simple changes in lifestyle and diet will help to manage the discomfort of acidity symptoms.
Few common symptoms of acidity are:
Acidity is one of the common problem seen in everyone. There are several causes such as unhealthy lifestyle, long gap between meals, spicy food, caffeinated drink, being pregnant, etc. Cause for acidity is different for different people. Few of them include:
- Improper diet
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Caffeinated drinks
- Too much Stress
- Lack of sleep
- Long gap between meals
- Eat High fiber foods
- Avoid Large meals – take frequent small meals instead.
- Spicy food
- Gut bacteria imbalance
- Sensitivity to sour food
- Being Pregnant
- Certain medications
- Adopt healthy lifestyle
- Drink lots of water, as it helps in maintaining the pH balance in the stomach.
- Always eat small and regular meals, as it will help to decrease acid in the stomach.
- Foods such as chocolate, fried foods, caffeine, fatty foods, garlic, citrus fruit, etc should be avoided, as it promotes the symptom of acidity.
- Always eat less than required and chew the food properly
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Have your last meal, few hours before sleeping
- Try to include curd and buttermilk in your diet
- Eat jaggery after every meal, it prevents acidity
- Avoid taking oily and spicy meals
- Limit snack between meals
- Don’t lie down immediately after eating
- Don’t drink water within meals, drink at least half an hour after a meal.
- Avoid nonvegetarian food as much as possible
- Reduce stress
- Quit smoking as smoking weakens the LES (lower esophageal sphincter)
- Cut back on alcohol
If you are overweight/obese, try losing weight. Being overweight only worsens the symptoms of the condition.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk contains lactic acid which helps to normalize the acidity in the stomach. If you had a heavy or spicy meal and having acidity, the best solution is to have a glass of buttermilk. You can have it plain or mix a little black pepper powder in it. You can also add 1 tsp of ground coriander leaves in the buttermilk.
- Cumin seeds: Cumin seeds are very helpful to treat acidity as it works as a great acid neutralizer and relieves stomach pain. It is naturally capable of helping in the digestion of food. It also reduces gas production, improves digestion. Take 1 tsp of cumin seeds and put it into a cup of boiling water and can drink it after every meal or you can take 1 tsp of roasted cumin seeds, mix it into a glass of water and can drink it after every meal.
- Fennel: Fennel is very useful for digestive problems such as bloating, gas, heartburn, etc. Chewing fennel after meals help to prevent acidity. For better results, mix 1 tsp of fennel in a cup of hot water, strain it and drink it.
- Ginger: Ginger has many health benefits. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties which help to treat acidity. You can chew a slice of fresh ginger or mix fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water and drink it. You can also have 1 tsp of ginger juice twice or thrice daily for better results.
- Basil: Basil leaves have soothing properties which help in instant relief from acidity. It aids digestion, relieves gas, reduces burning in stomach and prevents acidity. For instant relief from acidity, chew few basil leaves. Add few basil leaves in a cup o boiling water, let it simmer, then drink it.
- Antacids: Acidity is usually treated with the help of certain antacids. It can neutralize the acid from your stomach. Antacid cut down on stomach acid, stomach upset, indigestion, etc. Antacid contains one of the following compounds such as magnesium or aluminum or calcium. Sometimes overuse of antacids can cause stomach cramps, change in color of bowel movement, diarrhea, and constipation. Examples of antacids are Maalox, Mylanta, Alternagel, Alka-seltzer, Gelusil, Rolaids, Tums, Milk of magnesia, Gaviscon, Amphojel, etc. Always take an antacid as directed by your doctor or according to packaging label.
- H-2 Receptor Blockers: Also known as Histamine blocking agents. It helps to reduce the acid production in the stomach and provide long-lasting relief than antacids. It includes Pepcid (famotidine/nizatidine), Tagamet (cimetidine) and Zantac (ranitidine). Consult your doctor immediately if your symptoms don’t improve as it could be a sign of some serious condition.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): It helps to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach and heals damaged esophageal tissue. It includes Omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), Esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR). PPIs are safe to use but should always be taken under doctors guidance. If these medications don’t relieve your symptoms of acidity or last longer for more than 2-3 weeks. Consult your doctor immediately.
Generally, the episodes of feeling agitated due to increased acid levels are short-term and last just for few hours. However, if your acidity persists for a longer duration or comes frequently – consult your doctor as soon as possible. Furthermore, Regular agitation can mean that you may be suffering from serious conditions like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) etc.
Try the above-discussed home remedies and over the counter medicines. If they don’t seem to work, you might need a visit to a doctor.
My stomach is burning, how long will it feel so?
You might be suffering from Acidity. Try drinking more water and some of the home remedies discussed above. If the problem isn’t solved, visit a doctor.
I suffer from acidity regularly. Is it common?
No. Generally acidity happens rarely and for short-term only. Also, if you are suffering from regular episodes, we advise you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Regular acid reflux can due to other gastrointestinal condition which may need certain medications.