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Acidity: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

Acidity is known by several names, and the most common names are Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. An Acidity can cause chronic heartburn and persistent indigestion, along with other related issues in a person.

  • Name: Acid Reflux , Acid Reflux Disease, GERD , Gastroesophageal reflux Disorder
  • Cause: Unhealthy eating habits, unhealthy lifestyle, weakened Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)
  • Symptoms: Burning in the throat, burning in the heart , ache in the heart
  • Treatment: Lifestyle changes, medication, surgery
  • Prevention: Lifestyle changes, quitting drinking or smoking,
  • Diagnosis: Medical consultation, X-ray

Sometimes specific foods can make a person uncomfortable as they do not suit their body, and this can cause an Acidity. Other times, specific conditions like a pregnancy can also be the cause for acidity.

It is normal for any individual to occasionally experience acidity due to eating specific foods, or overeating or not eating for a long time. However, when this becomes an everyday phenomenon, it becomes a problem.

An Acidity  is not otherwise considered dangerous but if it is chronic and happens every other day, or maybe even more than once a day it can be extremely uncomfortable and make it very difficult to go about day to day activities. Experiencing symptom of acidity more than once a week can suggest that a person needs medical attention as they have an Acidity disease.

It is not even possible to ignore Acidity as it only gets worse with time, which is why it should be treated as soon as possible otherwise it will only increase in intensity. If not treated, the chest pain, angina, and heartburn that one experiences during an Acidity can be so extreme that it can be mistaken for a heart attack. If this becomes an everyday problem, one might even normalize it and as a result, an actual stroke may be mistaken for a heartburn, which can be fatal.

In the initial stages of Acidity, lifestyle changes are mostly sufficient in treating it. However, later on, medication may be required. In extreme cases, surgery may be the only option to relieve the situation.

Types of Acidity:

Acidity can happen to patients of varying strengths and cause different levels of discomfort among them.

  • Mild Acidity: Mild acidity can be caused due to skipping a meal or over-eating. This may also happen in case one consumes food that was expired or infected. The symptoms are not very severe in this case, and treatment is easy. In the case of skipped meals, eating something light and then having a meal can resolve the issue. An antacid can be taken to immediately help with the burning experienced in the upper digestive tract. Using a digestion aid can be helpful in resolving the issue if the cause is overeating. Using a syrup formulation is expected to help much faster than taking a tablet in this case.
  • Intermediary Acidity: Intermediary Acidity is the condition when a person experiences symptoms of acidity few times a week. This is mostly because of unhealthy eating habits and a lifestyle that perpetuates the issue.The severity of the problem increases as the disease is prolonged. It is important to consult a doctor in case a person experiences acidity often times. This may suggest some deeper issues and only a trained medical practitioner can diagnose them correctly.
  • Severe Acidity:
  1. Experiencing acidity symptoms at almost all times, before and after all meals, during mornings and nights means one has a case of Severe Acidity.
  2. Mostly this happens when their serious physiological causes of the Acidity, since unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits do not render the situation so bad all by themselves.
  3. Medication becomes mandatory for patients with severe acidity, and once the exact cause is found out, a surgery may be required to fix the problem.
  4. People with severe Acidity must follow their doctor’s advice diligently. They require to make several compromises in the diet and follow strict rules until their situation gets better.

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Symptoms of Acidity:

The various acidity reflux symptoms that patients experience during an Acidity are given below:

  • Burning in the stomach
  • Burning in the throat
  • Burning in the heart
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Restlessness
  • Regurgitation
  • Sour and unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Belching
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Black Stools
  • Burping
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Indigestion
  • Bad breath
  • Nausea

Patients may experience few or most of these symptoms in varying levels of strength as per how their condition is.

Read More: Symptoms of  Abdominal Pain | Symptoms of Acid reflux

Diagnosis of Acidity:

  • The diagnosis of the problem is rather easy, as no medical screening or procedures are required. The symptoms make it quite evident that a person has Gastroesophageal Reflux disease.
  • Patients can often tell themselves that they are experiencing an Acidity and take the adequate measures to treat their condition. However, it is only when over-the-counter products fail to work that a doctor needs to intervene and examine the situation.
  • There are specific physical conditions which can cause or trigger an Acidity, and if these are present in the case of a patient, they need to be treated. Unless the proper cause is fixed it is not likely for the patient to get any better with medicines or precautions.
  • In certain specific cases, the doctor may recommend an X-ray of the stomach, oesophagus, or the upper digestive tract. Other than this, an endoscopy of the region can also assist the doctor in identifying the condition of the oesophagus.

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What Causes of Acidity?

Acidity may be caused due to several reasons. While some of these are more common and easy to deduce, others may be much more complex and not very obvious. If a patient experiences serious acidity problems, it is important to consult a doctor and identify the specific condition of the patient.

  • Unhealthy Eating Habits

The following unhealthy eating habits can be the cause of an Acidity in many patients.

  1. Skipping meals often
  2. Staying on an empty stomach for several hours
  3. Overeating
  4. Eating right before sleeping or lying down
  5. Eating just before taking a bath

  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices

The following unhealthy lifestyle choices can be the cause of an Acidity in many patients.

  1. Excessive smoking
  2. Excessive alcohol consumption
  3. Not sleeping enough
  4. Excessive physical stress
  5. Excessive mental stress

  • Excessively acidic diet

The following foods are very acidic in nature, which is why consuming them in bigger quantities and often times may cause an Acidity.

  1. Lemon
  2. Oranges
  3. Spicy preparations
  4. Tea
  5. Coffee
  6. Soda or carbonated drinks
  7. Fried foods
  8. Junk food
  9. Foods with very high-fat content

  • Side effects of other medical conditions

Sometimes an Acidity may be caused due to other health conditions that a patient has. These can be:

  1. Connective tissue disorder
  2. Diabetes
  3. Tumor in the stomach
  4. Tumor in the oesophagus
  5. Peptic ulcer
  6. Zollinger Ellison Syndrome
  7. Asthma

  • Side effects of certain medications

Sometimes an Acidity may be caused due to certain medications that a patient takes which do not sit well with them. These may be:

  1. Medication used for hypertension or high blood pressure
  2. Antibiotics
  3. Medications used for anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
  4. Bisphosphonates
  5. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)

  • Physiological conditions

There are certain physiological conditions which can be the cause of a chronic and persistent problem of Acidity. These need immediate attention and treatment upon diagnosis.

  1. The weakening of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES): the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is the muscle responsible for controlling the opening of the stomach. When the muscle does not perform its function effectively, acid from inside the stomach can escape into the oesophagus causing acidity.
  2. Excessive acid in the stomach: sometimes the stomach may start producing excessive amounts of acids, which are crucial for proper digestion, but since they are produced excessively they may escape the stomach and lead to acidity.
  3. A hiatal Hernia : Hiatal Hernia is a condition in which the opening of the diaphragm, also known as the hiatus, has an opening or cavity which causes a hernia. Patients of hiatal hernia are often seen to have acidity problems, however, this is not mandatory that the condition will cause Acidity in the patients. When patients of a hiatal hernia have Acidity, an operation is necessary to fix the condition.

Read More: Peptic Ulcer Causes | Alopecia Causes

Prevention from Acidity:

Since many of the causes of Acidity Disorder are based on unhealthy lifestyle choices and unhealthy eating habits, they can be easily prevented.

The following can help a person avoid the problem of an Acidity :

  • Eating meals on time
  • Not staying on an empty stomach for more than 4 to 5 hours
  • Reducing or omitting alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding overeating
  • Avoiding chocolates
  • Avoiding chocolate-based drinks
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Avoiding very acidic foods
  • Avoiding caffeine rich foods
  • Avoiding foods with very high-fat content
  • Avoiding going to bed right after eating
  • Avoiding bathing right after eating
  • Avoiding excessive stress
  • Reducing physical exercise
  • Sleeping properly and sufficiently
  • Not using any strong medication unless prescribed by a doctor
  • Having light meals
  • Drinking enough water and other fluids
  • Consuming ginger in the form of ginger water, ginger tea, etc.

Treatment of Acidity:

The following courses of treatment are adopted for patients with Acidity .

  • Mild acidity

The treatment of GERD is rather easy in the initial stages or if it is a case of mild acidity. Lifestyle changes and avoiding unhealthy eating habits is the treatment prescribed to the patients.

Antacids can also be taken for instant relief since these are over-the-counter products.

  • Intermediary acidity

Cases of moderate or intermediary acidity require a doctor’s advice who can adequately decide what course of treatment should be taken by the patient.

Patients are usually told to follow a diet that does not cause their condition to get worse and lifestyle changes are required. Medicines may also be prescribed to neutralize the acidity.

  • Severe Acidity

Severe acidity can cause many problems for patients, it can be caused due to serious complications like dysfunction of the Lower Esophageal sphincter, hiatal hernia, or hyperproduction of acid in the stomach.

The first step to treating severe acidity is using medications. Proton pump inhibitors are often used to treat the problem. However, operating on the problem area may also be needed. As per the requirement, this will be suggested by the doctor.

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Methods for Acidity Treatment

When a person has a serious Acidity, following the precautions is helpful but not sufficient, and other methods of treatment may be required.

Some of the methods of treatment are given below:

  • Surgery

A surgery may be needed in the case of physiological conditions which can be repaired artificially.

  1. Surgery of Lower Esophageal Sphincter: The lower esophageal sphincter is the muscle located at the end of the esophagus and connects it to the stomach. The muscle is responsible for controlling the opening to the stomach and thereby keeping the gastric acid produced in the stomach within, where it belongs.
    When this muscle stops performing its function properly, acidity occurs. Surgery can be useful in tightening this weak and loosened muscle and thereby treating the problem of Acidity.
  2. Surgery of Hiatal Hernia : Hiatus is the opening found in the diaphragm and is an important part of the human anatomy. However, sometimes this opening can be too wide and thereby cause a hernia. While there is no relation between the conditions of a hiatal hernia and Acidity, patients of a hiatal hernia are often seen to experience acidity. Surgically repairing the hiatus is seen to substantially improve the Acidity problem of patients.

  • Medication

Medication for acidity is easy and mostly effective. Patients can use them after self-diagnosis as they are not dangerous and available over the counter.

  1. Antacids: Antacids can be used in conditions where the acid in the stomach overflows into the esophagus due to overeating or being hungry for very long.
  2. Proton pump inhibitors: Proton Pump inhibitors require a prescription from a doctor and can be useful in preventing symptoms of severe acidity.

  • Home remedies

There are several home remedies which can be used to treat the problem of an Acidity.

Some of these are:

  1. Drinking herbal teas
  2. Drinking ginger teas
  3. Avoiding citrus juices
  4. Having plant-based milk like soy milk, almond milk, etc
  5. Avoiding fat-rich foods
  6. Having smoothies
  7. Eating raw vegetables like cucumber
  8. Eating raw fruits like tomato, mango, etc.

Acidity Risk factors:

Risk factors are responsible for causing a Acidity since they predispose a person to it. The following conditions can increase the risk of Acidity in a person:

  • Obesity
  • Being overweight
  • Eating spicy foods excessively
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Pregnant
  • Smoking
  • Taking muscle relaxers
  • Using medications for hypertension

Complications:

The treatment of Acidity is important when it is diagnosed because this minor looking problem can develop into something much more serious. The cause of the problem needs to be fixed since prolonged occurrence of the problem can lead to other complications, some of which are listed below:

  • Esophagitis

Esophagitis happens when the gastric acid produced by the stomach repeatedly comes in contact with the esophagus it can cause an injury in the lining. The acid is strong enough to corrode the surface, especially if the situation is prolonged.

Esophagitis causes several symptoms such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing, bleeding through the mouth, a burning pain in the chest, etc.

  • Barrett's esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a specific condition which is caused due to prolonged GERD. In this situation, the esophagus is deformed and abnormal changes are noticed in the lining. The condition also leads to a change in the kind of cells which are found in the esophagus. An upper endoscopy is used to diagnose this condition, which is more likely to happen in those who have had heartaches, chest aches, and general acidity for over ten years.

  • Strictures

Sometimes strictures or obstructions may be formed in the esophagus because of the constant acid contact in the food pipe. These can make swallowing or even drinking water very difficult for the patient.

The treatment for this condition requires dilating the esophagus and the various strictures formed in the passage.

  • sophageal cancer

Chronic acidity and Gastroesophageal reflux disorder can be the cause of cancer in a patient. The cancer complications in the situation are explained below:

  1. Adenocarcinoma: This is the kind of cancer which develops in the lower part of the esophagus. It is often observed in patients who have Barrett’s esophagus.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: A special kind of cells called the squamous cells are observed lining the esophagus in this kind of cancer. This carcinoma affects the upper and middle part of the esophagus.

Habits like smoking and consuming alcohol also put one at increased risk of this cancer.

Common Myths About Acidity:

Myth #1: Pregnant women always experience acidity so they should ignore it.

Fact: pregnant women are more likely to experience acidity and Acidity, however, this should not be ignored. Acidity can be extremely uncomfortable. A doctor can help pregnant women deal effectively with the situation and completely avoid the discomfort that comes with an Acidity.

Myth #2: It is normal to experience heartburns when one has the problem of Acidity.

Fact: While heartburn is a common symptom of an Acidity, this does not mean that heartburns should be ignored by the patient. Heartburns are a sign of severe acidity, and can also be caused due to other cardiovascular complications.

Myth #3: Acidity is only caused due to eating unhealthy foods. Starting to eat healthily can fix the problem

Fact: Acidity may be caused due to several reasons, one of which may be eating unhealthy. However, this is not the only reason for experiencing acidity. There are several lifestyle problems which may be causing a person’s acidity problem, as well as several physiological issues. It is important to diagnose the problem correctly and then find an adequate solution.

Myth #4: Home remedies are sure to fix GERD.

Fact: home remedies can be very useful in treating the problem of gastroesophageal Acidity. However, sometimes they may not work, and this is why the proper diagnosis of the cause of the Acidity is important. Medication and surgery may be the only resorts in case of a very severe Acidity problem.

Myth #5: Acidity is a lifestyle problem, it is not caused due to any pathogen.

Fact: acidity is usually a lifestyle problem, but there are a specific bacteria which may also cause the disease. This is the bacterium strain called Helicobacter pylori. An infection caused by this particular bacteria can well be the cause of acidity.

Myth #6: Milk-based and dairy products calm down the acidity one is experiencing.

Fact: cold milk and other drinks can help in relieving symptoms of acidity, however, this not always true. Foods with high-fat content are notorious for worsening the acidity problem. Sometimes milk-based food can be very rich in fats, and this is why they may worsen the patient’s condition a well.

Myth #7: Only fat people always have acidity.

Fact: This is not correct at all. Any person can experience the problem of an Acidity due to unhealthy eating habits. This myth is based on a stereotypical assumption that people who are overweight or obese always have unhealthy eating habits. Obesity can have several reasons, and may well not have anything to do with the person’s diet at all. Thin people, even those who are underweight, are equally prone to acidity depending on the kind of eating habits that they have.

Myth #8: Gastroesophageal Acidity is a lifelong problem.

Fact: Gastroesophageal Acidity  is not a lifelong problem. It is not chronic, however, it may be persistent. The only reason that a person will have to struggle with an Acidity problem for their entire life is that they would not be getting treatment for it. The treatment for GERD is very simple, it only requires one to take precautions in their day to day life, and use antacids and other medications when they need to. With proper care being taken, there is a very low possibility of a patient experiencing Acidity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Acidity:

1) How is Acidity diagnosed?

Ans: There are several ways in which Acidity may be diagnosed.

  • Self-diagnosis by patient
  • Diagnosis by doctor after a consultation and medical examination
  • X-ray or gastrointestinal endoscopy

2) What tests are used to diagnose Acidity?

Ans: The following tests are used to diagnose Acidity:

  • X-ray of the stomach or the esophagus
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy of the upper oesophagus

3) Can Acidity be treated with diet and lifestyle changes?

Ans: Yes, it is possible to treat Gastroesophageal Acidity with diet and lifestyle changes. By avoiding habits that worsen or trigger the condition, and eating healthy by avoiding fat and acidic content, a person can substantially improve their GERD problem.

4) Can Acidity be treated with medications?

Ans: Yes, it is possible to treat Acidity with medications. The kind of medications used are either antacids, digestion aids, or proton pump inhibitors.

5) Can eating just before bed be the cause of Acidity?

Ans: When a person eats food and then it reaches the stomach, gastric acid is produced to help digest it. As a conditioned response, the stomach produces acid when a person eats. Hence, going to bed just after eating can cause the acid to flow into the oesophagus and cause acidity.

6)  can mint help with the problem of an Acidity?

Ans: Mint is known to be beneficial for an Acidity problem since it soothes and relieves the stomach.

7) How does fibrous food help in the problem of an Acidity ?

Ans: fibrous foods like whole grain, fleshy fruits, etc. can be very helpful for those with an Acidity problem, since they can help absorb and reduce the potency of gastric acid in the stomach.

8) Does soda bicarb products such as Mylanta, Eno, Quick Eze help in relieving Acidity?

Ans: Yes, these products are very useful in instantly relieving Acidity symptoms since they are antacids. They are alkaline in nature which is why they neutralize the acid quickly.

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Last updated on : 19-02-2019

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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