Acidity

Description of Acidity

Definition of Acidity
 
Acidity is the state of having excess acid in the stomach. Acid (gastric acid) is produced in the stomach to help in the digestion process, primarily in the breakdown of proteins. The acid in the stomach may increase due to lifestyle issues, some foods, medicines, or stress.
 
Causes and Risk Factors of Acidity
 
Eating habits that may cause acidity include:
1. Skipping meals or not eating at regular times
2. Overeating
3. Eating just before sleeping
Some foods when consumed in excess can cause acidity. These include:
1. Tea and coffee
2. Soft drinks and soda
3. Spicy foods
4. Acidic foods such as lemon and orange
5. Foods rich in fat content, especially fried foods and junk foods such as burgers, donuts, and pizzas

Acidity can also occur as a side-effect of some medicines, such as:
1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and aspirin
2. High blood pressure medicines such as nifedipine and verapamil
3. Diazepam that is used to treat anxiety
4. Iron and potassium supplements
5. Tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine or amitriptyline
6. Antibiotics such as tetracycline
7. Bisphosphonates such as alendronate, ibandronate, and risedronate that are used to cure bone diseases and strengthen the bones.

Other causes of acidity include:
1. Smoking
2. Consumption of alcohol
3. Excessive exercise
4. Stress
5. Lack of sleep
6. Infection by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori
 
Signs and Symptoms of Acidity
 
The symptoms of acidity include:
1. Heartburn
2. Burning sensation in the chest and stomach
3. Bloating or feeling of fullness in the stomach
4. Nausea
5. Vomiting
6. Excessive belching or burping
7. Sour taste in mouth
Sometimes, acidity may also cause pain in the chest or upper abdomen.
 
Investigations
 
Diagnosis of acidity will include a history of symptoms and tests such as: 
1. Esophageal pH monitoring to the amount of acid in the esophagus
2. Endoscopy of the esophagus and stomach
3. Biopsy of the gastric tissue
 
Treatments of Acidity
 
Acidity can be treated with medicines such as:
1. H2 receptor blockers that lower the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Examples include ranitidine, nizatidine, and cimetidine
2. Aluminum and magnesium antacids such as Gelusil and polycrol
3. Proton-pump inhibitors that block acid production, examples include omeprazole and esomeprazole
 
Home remedies for acidity
 
For immediate relief from acidity, consume the following:
1. Eat a whole banana.
2. Drink a glass of cold milk or buttermilk.
3. Drink coconut water.
4. Slowly chew half a spoon of aniseed (saunf).
5. Chew a few leaves of holy basil (tulsi) or boil it in water and drink it when cool.
6. Boil a few mint (pudina) leaves in water. Cool it and drink when required.
7. Chew a small piece of ginger or boil it in water and drink the decoction.

For long-term management of acidity, try the following tips:
1. Avoid spicy foods.
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. Reduce your intake of tea and coffee.
4. Eat in small quantities. Follow a regular time for eating.
5. Stay away from carbonated drinks.
6. Do not smoke or drink.
7. Lose weight if overweight or obese.
8. Drink aloe vera juice regularly. You can prepare it yourself using aloe vera from your garden or buy those available over-the-counter.
9. Soak some aniseed in water overnight. Sip it the next day whenever you have a bout of acidity.   
10. Drink herbal tea or cinnamon tea.
 
Yoga for acidity
 
1. Halasana (plow pose) works the best for acidity.
2. Vajrasana (kneeling pose) aids the digestion process and helps control acidity.
3. Kapalabhati Pranayama -- do this yogasana slowly. Inhaling and exhaling rapidly can be harmful to people who have acidity or gastric ulcers.
4. Ushtra asana (camel pose)
5. Vajrasana (kneeling pose)
6. Pavanamuktasana (wind relieving pose)
 
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
 
Excess acid in the stomach may damage the lining of the stomach and esophagus (food pipe) causing gastric ulcers or cancers.
See a doctor if symptoms of acidity persist or if you have:
1. Severe pain in the chest or abdomen
2. Excessive vomiting
3. Difficulty in swallowing
 
Prognosis and Prevention
 
Acidity can be controlled easily when it is caused due to lifestyle issues such as irregular or unhealthy eating habits. Follow these tips to prevent acidity:
1. Eat healthy food and follow a regular time for eating.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
3. Exercise regularly.
4. Do not sleep immediately after having a meal.
 
References
 
Richter JE, Friedenberg FK. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44.
 

Frequently Asked Questions about Acidity

Yes, acidity may occur in infants because there is immature gastrointestinal tract in infants. There is poor coordination of muscles in the esophagus and stomach which may lead to reflux of stomach content upwards and infant may vomit also.
High impact exercises like running, weight lifting, and eating before exercise may trigger acidity problems by relaxing your lower esophageal opening. Due to this, stomach acid or food in the stomach regurgitates upwards into the esophagus giving rise to heartburn. That does not mean you should stop exercising as losing weight may be an important strategy in preventing acidity. Consult your physician in choosing suitable exercise for you and to avoid eating just before exercise may be helpful.
Acidic foods and fruits, e.g., citrus fruits (lemon, orange), grapes, etc. may stimulate acid contents in the stomach giving rise to acidity problem. Banana is a low acid containing food that may be useful in patients of acidity or heartburn. Cucumber on the other hand is an alkaline food, hence usually does not cause acidity problem and can be taken.
Acidity may be an important cause of teeth damage and erosion. Due to excessive acid production and reflux, acids may come in contact with your teeth and damage the protective covering of enamel leading to erosion of teeth.
Acidity and acid reflux when severe and frequent may become a serious problem. In a long run uncontrolled acid reflux may give rise to erosion and ulcers in the esophagus. It may also cause narrowing of esophagus or esophageal strictures leading to difficulty in swallowing. In a few patients, long-term acid reflux may lead to changes in the lining of the esophagus called as Barrett’s esophagus which may convert to cancer of esophagus.
Coconut water or naariyal paani is usually alkaline hence neutralizes your acidic stomach and restores normal pH in the stomach. It also stimulates mucus production that protect from harmful effects of excessive acids. Coconut water is also rich in fibers that helps in digestion of foods and reduces acidity.
Many people eat apples to control their acidity, but there is no scientific evidence about this beneficial effect. In fact, green apple is more acidic than red apple and it is observed that few people eating green apple may experience worsening of acidity and reflux symptoms due acid contents in it.
Antibiotics such as tetracycline may cause irritation of linings of esophagus and cause heartburn. Antibiotics may also exaggerate gastrointestinal reflux symptoms in which stomach acid refluxes back into esophagus causing acidity problems.
Chocolate contains caffeine, cocoa, and other stimulants that may trigger acid reflux. Chocolates may also lead to incomplete closure of your lower esophagus pushing stomach contents into the esophagus called as regurgitation. This may present as heartburn and acidity.
Yes, tea contains caffeine which may relax lower esophageal sphincter or opening allowing reflux of acid and stomach contents into esophagus leading to acidity.
There are several natural ways to fight with acidity problem you may try. These include, 1) Raise your head and chest while sleeping to avoid reflux of acids 2) Avoid wearing skin tight pants that may put pressure on your belly 3) Stop smoking and drinking alcohol 4) Avoid triggers that may lead to acidity like citrus fruits, milk, coffee, tomatoes, high fat diet, etc. 5) Keep comfortable gap between meal and exercise (about 2 hours gap after meal) 6) Wait for 2 to 3 hours after meal to go to bed 7) Try losing some weight if you are overweight
Chest pain that occur in heart attack is similar in nature as that of chest pain in acidity that is called heartburn. However, chest pain that is radiating to shoulder, jaw, and neck associated with breathless, sweating, and general uneasiness strongly suggest heart attack. Sometimes long-term acidity or acid reflux may give rise Barrett’s esophagus which may lead to cancer of esophagus. Hence, consult your physician if you are feeling any discomfort in the chest or heartburn to have proper diagnosis and treatment.
In few people high impact exercises like running, weightlifting may trigger acid reflux by relaxing lower esophageal opening, but it is important to control your weight to prevent acidity symptoms. Extra body weight may push against your stomach and relaxes lower esophageal opening. You may start with low impact exercises and best one is walking especially after taking meal. You may do light cardio exercises like spinning bike or an elliptical machine. Light breathing exercises and yoga may be performed under the guidance of your trainer. Consult your physician to know suitable exercises for you as per your weight and extent of acidity problem.
Vitamin C is a very important nutrient and it is required by the body for proper functioning, but excess intake of certain vitamin C containing foods like citrus fruits may trigger acidity by increasing the amount of acid content in the stomach. That does not mean you should avoid vitamin C containing foods because many other such foods are well-tolerated by most of the people. If you come across increase in acidity by certain foods then try limiting intake of such foods and consult your doctor for proper treatment.
Acidic foods may be a cause of your acidity by increasing acid content of your stomach. Examples of acidic foods include fruits like lemon, grapes, apple, tomatoes, oranges, etc., high sugar food items like dark chocolates, certain dairy products like whole milk, tea, and coffee.
Acid indigestion is another term used for heartburn, i.e., feeling burning sensation or chest discomfort behind your breastbone due to reflux of acids from stomach to the esophagus.
In chronic acidity, there is long-term problem of acid reflux leading to heartburn. In chronic acidity, apart from having healthy lifestyle and healthy diet, your doctor may also prescribe you some medications like omeprazole or pantoprazole or ranitidine to block the synthesis of extra acids in your stomach. Chronic acidity problem should be managed properly to prevent further complications.
Acidity is production of excess acids in the stomach due to various causes like eating coffee, tea, spicy foods, etc. Gas production in the body may occur due to excess breathing air while talking or eating, drinking carbonated cold drinks, sweets, or some dairy products. Gas is eliminated from your body by mouth (belching) or rectum (flatulence). Acidity may be associated with gas and foods that cause acidity may also increase gas production.
Generally, low acid containing foods and fruits are useful to reduce acidity in the body. Some common useful foods and fruits include bananas and melons (contains low amount of acids), oatmeal and bread (contains fibers and useful in digestion), rice (contains complex carbohydrates useful in preventing acid reflux), and green vegetables like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower (low acid contents).
Acidity in patients with reflux disease or obese individuals is more in the morning because reflux of acid from stomach is aggravated by lying down. It can be prevented by losing weight and keeping head end of your bed elevated.
Yes, acidity due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, i.e., reflux of acid content from stomach to esophagus may present with chest pain (behind the breastbone), back pain or stomach pain. This feels like a burning sensation or tightness of chest. Acid regurgitation or back flow of acids is the main cause of such pain.
Acidity is common during fasting. Theoretically, there should be less acid secretion in the stomach due to no food during fasting but this is not the case. When you think about food or smell something you love to eat, then your brain sends signals to increase production of acid leading to acidity problem while fasting.
Yes, beer, wine, or other forms of alcohol may increase acid contents in the stomach and relaxes lower esophageal opening. This leads to regurgitation of acid and food contents of the stomach and acidity.
Green tea also contains caffeine, but less in amount as compared to traditional black tea. As caffeine component is responsible for acid reflux by relaxing lower esophageal opening, green tea may also cause acidity and heartburn.
Yes, like citrus fruits, tomatoes and other items made from tomatoes like sauce, or juice may trigger acid production in the stomach and gives rise to acidity and heartburn.
Yes, acidity may be a symptom of early pregnancy. Hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy may affect muscles of gastrointestinal tract and relax lower esophageal opening. This may lead to reflux of acid and stomach contents into esophagus giving rise to heartburn or acidity.
When you have acidity, sleeping with your upper body elevated may help to prevent reflux of acids. When throat is at upper level than your stomach, there is less chance of regurgitation of acids into your esophagus.
Acidity may be associated with headache. Exact reason for headache in acidity is not very well known but it may be due referred pain to the head by regurgitation of acid from stomach to esophagus stimulating some nerves. Vomiting is frequently associated with acidity. When there is severe reflux, stomach contents are forced to come out of your mouth as vomitus.
H. pylori is a bacteria which when enters into our body, especially digestive tract, can cause stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and acidity. H. pylori damages the protective linings of the stomach which protect it from acids that digest foods. When these linings get damaged, acid may get through these linings leading to ulcer formation and increased acidity.
Apple cider vinegar is a special type of vinegar that is used to prevent acid reflux. As it contains vinegar or acetic acid, it may kills harmful bacteria in the stomach which are involved in causing ulcer. Composition of apple cider vinegar closely resembles that of normal acid content of the stomach, so it balances the stomach environment and may help in reducing acidity symptoms. Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink daily before meal.
Tea and coffee contains caffeine that may lead to acid reflux due to relaxation of lower esophageal opening. Milk is a very important dairy product used to strengthen your bone, but sometimes it may lead to acidity especially when whole milk or fat milk is used. Fat milk may trigger production of acid and may cause slow stomach emptying exaggerating the reflux symptoms. Skim milk may be better to consume than fat milk in acidity. Curd or yoghurt on the other hand may contain probiotics or useful bacteria that helps in digestion and may be helpful in acidity.
Acidity is excess production of acids in the stomach by glands present in it. Acidity is a symptom of some diseases especially gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in which acids from stomach regurgitates into esophagus leading to burning sensation or heartburn. Esophageal pH testing is used to measure acidity in which a probe is inserted via nose into the esophagus which is then connected to a monitor to measure acid production.
Most of the chicken noodle soup contains fatty chicken and fat is a known trigger for developing acid reflux leading to acidity. Hence, chicken noodle soup is usually acidic. Few types of chicken noodle soup contains low fats that may not trigger acidity.
Acidity in ayurveda is called ‘amla pitta’ (amla means sour and pitta means heat). Apart from lifestyle modifications and avoiding acid triggering foods, Ayurveda also mentions usefulness of several herbs and natural ways to prevent and treat acidity. Some of these include drinking water with cardamom (improves digestion), extract of tulsi leaves (relieves acidity and gas and helps in ulcer healing), clove buds (improves movements in digestive tract), jeera water (improves digestion and prevent gas formation), pudina or mint leaves (reduces acidity). Consult your ayurvedic doctor to know suitable remedy for treating and preventing acidity problem.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which may help in fighting infections in the stomach and may improve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Supplementing vitamin B complex especially vitamin B12, B6, and folic acid may be good to control your acidity problem by unknown mechanism.
When you are suffering from acid reflux that happens nearly all the time and cause burning sensation or heartburn, it is known as constant heartburn. Severe constant heartburn is usually a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Consult your physician if you are experiencing such constant heartburn.
There are several natural ways which may be helpful to combat acidity and gas including changing lifestyle like elevating the head of your bed, avoiding large meals, walking after meals, eating pudina leaves, clove buds, drinking jeera water, or curd. Acquire healthy habits to overcome your acidity and gas.
When you eat something, your stomach produces acids to digest the food. If you eat large amount of food, large amount of acids will be produced in your stomach. Likewise some foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, fatty and fried items, etc. have tendency to produce acids in the stomach, and therefore these are called as acidic foods.
Acidity is production of excess acids in the stomach that may be due various reasons like drinking tea, coffee, eating spicy foods, etc. On the other hand heartburn is a symptom in which patient feels unpleasant burning sensation or chest discomfort behind breastbone. This occurs due acid reflux from stomach to esophagus in some diseases like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Remember that heartburn have nothing to do with your heart. This term is misleading.
Certain medicines may irritate your esophagus leading to worsening of acidity problem or heartburn. Few medications increase the acid reflux also. Few commonly used medications causing/ worsening acidity include, 1) Antibiotics like tetracycline (used in infections) 2) Bisphosphonates like alendronate which are used in bone disorders like osteoporosis 3) Iron supplements (used in anemia) 4) Pain killers like ibuprofen 5) Medications used in anxiety and depression like diazepam and amitriptyline
Lassi or curd contain useful bacteria that helps in digestion of foods and helps in acidity. On the other hand, cold drinks or carbonated drinks may aggravate the problem of acidity and leads to gas.
Hyperacidity, commonly known as acidity, is a common health problem in which the stomach produces excessive acid. It can be a result of certain medications like painkillers, stress, smoking, consuming fatty and spicy food, and sometimes an infection known as the H-Pylori infection.
A natural antacid that helps dispel stomach gas, cinnamon has been found to be good for the digestive health. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder on a spoon of honey and have it before meals. This relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals. Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder in a cup of water. Boil it and allow to steep for a few minutes. Drink this cinnamon tea 2 to 3 times a day.
High in calcium, milk helps prevent acid build-up and absorbs the excess acid produced thereby reducing the symptoms of acidity. It also provides instant relief from the burning sensation one feels during an acid reflux. Have cold milk without added sugar. One can however add one or two strands of saffron for added health benefit. Alternatively, one can also add a spoon of rose syrup to a glass of cold milk for added taste and flavor, also known as rose milk.
Rich in lactic acid buttermilk normalizes the acidity in the stomach, it has been found to be beneficial in acidity attacks. Grind ½ tsp. of fenugreek seeds (methi dana) with a little water to make a paste. Mix it in a glass of plain buttermilk. Drink this several times a day until you get relief. Mix in very little black pepper powder or 1 tsp. of ground coriander leaves in the buttermilk and have it along with meals for quick relief from acidity.
Methi can be used to get rid of heartburn and acid reflux which renders you so helpless. The mucilage in methi seeds helps to soothe stomach inflammation while providing a protective coating for your stomach and intestinal lining. You can soak a teaspoon of methi in water overnight and have it first thing in the morning to give your body the benefit of fiber and also keep any stomach ailments at bay throughout the day.
Symptoms of acidity include stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, flatulence, and heartburn.
A natural acid neutralizer, cumin seeds aids digestion and also relieves stomach pain caused due to acidity. Mix 1 tsp. each of cumin seed powder, coriander seed powder, fennel seed powder, and some sugar in a large cup of water. Drink it on an empty stomach. Add 1 tsp. of cumin seeds to a cup of boiling water. Let it boil for 3 to 4 min. Strain it and bring it to room temperature. Keep sipping at regular intervals. Such 2 to 3 cups a day would keep you free from an acidity attack.
With its antiulcer properties, they reduce the effect of gastric acids and stimulate the stomach to produce more mucous. Boil about 8 to 10 tulsi leaves in a cup of water. When reduced to half, strain it and have it lukewarm. Sweeten with honey. Do not add milk. Sip frequently. Chew on 5 to 6 tulsi leaves whenever you get an acidity attack. Chew thoroughly and let the leaves remain in your mouth for a while.
Drink a glass of lukewarm water daily before bedtime and immediately upon waking up. Do not drink water during or immediately after a meal, as it can contribute to improper digestion leading to acidity.