Acidity - Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, And Home Remedies

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 03/07/2023

Acidity or acid reflux is caused when some of the acid from the stomach flows into the oesophagus. It can cause heartburn characterised by pain in the lower chest region. Heartburn, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart. Frequent cases of acid reflux can be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

While acidity or acid reflux is a prevalent health concern among many today, most do not realise it results from poor eating habits or lifestyle choices. However, if they occur more than twice a week, it may be time to visit a doctor as it could be a sign of a more serious condition.

What Is Acidity?

Our stomachs contain hydrochloric acid (HCL) necessary for breaking down and digesting food; it also protects us against pathogens. However, while the stomach has a special lining to protect against the acid’s corrosive effects, our throats do not.

The gastroesophageal sphincter is a ring of muscle that acts as a valve to let food into our stomachs but not back up into our oesophagus (throat). One of the prime reasons for acidity is when this valve fails. As a result, the stomach content is brought back into the throat, resulting in acid reflux or acidity. When this happens, it can produce a bitter or sour taste in the back of our throats.

Acidity is common enough to happen to most people occasionally, especially if they have poor or unhealthy eating habits. It’s more prevalent in countries like India, where consuming spicy and oily foods is common, which can exacerbate the issue.

Acidity Symptoms

The main symptom of acidity is heartburn. As stated, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Many people use acidity and acid reflux interchangeably, but it’s important to note that acid reflux causes heartburn.

A person experiencing heartburn will feel it behind the breastbone area. It can get worse when lying down or bending over. Heartburn can also last for several hours and can get worse after eating. The pain can also travel up to our neck and throat.

When stomach fluid is regurgitated into the throat, it can also produce a sour or bitter taste. Here are some other symptoms people with acidity or acid reflux can experience.

  • Nausea, Regurgitation, Or Vomiting.

  • Constipation

  • Bad Breath

  • Belching

  • Indigestion

  • Difficulty In Swallowing

  • Restlessness

  • Burning Sensation And Pain In The Stomach

-Burning Sensation And Pain In The Throat

Acidity Causes And Risk Factors

Acidity can affect people of all ages, sometimes even for unknown reasons. It may be due to lifestyle choices or underlying conditions that can predispose you to it. Causes and risk factors that can worsen acidity issues include:

  • Obesity.

  • Smoking (Active Or Passive).

  • Inactive Or Sedentary Lifestyle.

  • Some Medications Like Drugs For Asthma, Calcium-Channel Blockers, Antihistamines, Painkillers, Sedatives, And Antidepressants.

  • Pregnancy.

Food and dietary habits that have been linked to causing or worsening acidity and acid reflux include:

  • Caffeine.

  • Alcohol.

  • Fast Food Or Highly Processed Food.

  • Spicy Food.

  • Tomatoes And Tomato Sauces.

  • Onions And Garlic.

  • Eating Large Meals.

  • Lying Down Within 2 - 3 Hours Of Eating A Meal.

  • Overcomsuimg Chocolate, Carbonated Drinks, Or Acidic Juices.

Acidity Complications

Having chronic acidity or acid reflux symptoms can lead to other more serious conditions like:

  • Cavities/Tooth Decay: continual regurgitation of stomach contents can lead to it wearing down the enamel on your teeth, leading to cavities, tooth sensitivity, or tooth decay in more extreme cases.

  • Oesophagus Damage: The hydrochloric acid present in our stomachs is highly acidic. With repeating exposure to stomach content, it can lead to peptic ulcers or other conditions like,

  • Oesophagitis: The throat lining becomes inflamed.

  • Oesophageal Strictures: damage from the stomach acid can cause scar development along the throat, making it difficult to swallow. Food also has a higher chance of getting stuck as it travels down the throat.

  • Barrett’s Oesophagus: A severe complication from continual exposure to stomach acid that damages the throat. It causes changes in the cells and tissue lining the throat, increasing their potential to become cancer cells.

  • Oesophagus Cancer: You are highly likely to be predisposed to this if your family has a history of this condition. Preemptively purchasing a health insurance plan can benefit you as it can cover the cost of regular check-ups. In addition, you’ll be able to catch the disease in its early stages, making it easier to treat.

There are several ways to treat acidity. Depending on the severity, you may be prescribed prescription medication or advised to make specific lifestyle changes. Most people do a combination of these things to relieve their symptoms.

Medication For Acidity Issues

Some common medications you may get prescribed could include:

*- Antacids: *A standard over-the-counter treatment for acidity. They come in liquid and tablet form and reduce the stomach’s acid content. They usually contain calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, aluminium, and magnesium hydroxide.

They provide short-term, rapid relief from symptoms. However, regular use must be discussed with your doctor as they can inhibit nutrient absorption.

- Alginate Antacids: Alginate is an active ingredient found in brown algae. Antacids with this ingredient work differently, forming a mechanical barrier against stomach acid. The foamy gel sits on top of the stomach acid/gastric pool. Therefore, any reflux becomes harmless as it contains alginic acid rather than corrosive stomach acid.

- PPIs And H2 Blockers: These medications decrease your acid production and reduce the potential for damage when you experience acid reflux or acidity. They are generally safe to take, but like most prescription medications, they do have their side effects. For instance, they can lead to malnutrition, as they can decrease the stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Some common medications that fall under this category include omeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole (Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium). H2 blockers include cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid).

Lifestyle Changes To Treat Acidity Problems

Here are some lifestyle changes and home remedies you can use to relieve your symptoms and treat minor acidity.

  • Improving posture.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Incorporating more fibre into your diet.

  • Avoid late-night meals.

  • Elevating your bed when sleeping.

Some common home remedies include:

  • Drinking cold milk, coconut water, buttermilk, or watermelon juice may help.

  • Fruits like bananas and papaya are good for maintaining gut health.

  • Black cumin seeds

  • Consuming spices like cardamom, cloves, fennel or saunf, ginger, or turmeric can also bring some relief.

  • Ajwain

  • Jaggery

In more severe cases where OTC or prescription medication does not help, the person may need surgical intervention and undergo fundoplication. If you are predisposed to this condition, it’s a good idea to get medical insurance sooner rather than later, as it can help cover emergency medical costs.

Conclusion

In most cases, acidity issues often resolve independently or may only need OTC antacids. However, in cases where a person is diagnosed with GERD, it may be best to get a health insurance plan as they are more at risk of developing more serious complications.

Purchasing medical insurance from Tata AIG makes you eligible for health insurance tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act. This means having a health insurance plan can save you money in the long term.

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

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