What is Acidity ?

One of the most common complaints that I encounter in my opd is, “Doctor, I have severe acidity”.

The patient will invariably describe how he/ she has heartburn as a major symptom and will sometimes complain of gas travelling all over the stomach and radiating to his/her back and neck and finally causing a severe headache.

Over the last few years in my gastroenterology practice, I have learnt quite a few synonyms to acidity, viz; gas, heartburn, Pitt, sine me jalan.(to be written in hindi)

Many will attribute all ills to this very acidity and are convinced that, unless they get rid of this acidity, they cannot be cured.

Let us discuss a few basic points of this dreadful and cumbersome symptom.

What causes acidity?

The list of causes leading to acidity and stomach bloating is endless. However, in this day and age, erratic eating habits, unorganized working hours, binge eating, and sleep deprivation are some of the reasons for causing problems like heartburns and acidity.

A sedentary lifestyle without significant exercise, excess of caffeinated and fizzy drinks, smoking, and liquor also contribute to the symptoms. Inadvertent and frequent use of pain killers or nonprescription and over-the-counter medications add to the never-ending list of etiological factors adding the misery.

Pathological causes like ulcer in stomach and H pylori bacteria add to the ever increasing list of causes

 Tips on how to prevent acidity

  1. Avoid pain killers and over the counter medication
  2. Have a balanced meal – rich with dark green vegetables and add multiple colors to your plate
  3. Eating slowly and chewing adequately helps in digestion.
  4. One should keep a gap of at least 2 hours between food and bedtime/ lying down flat.
  5. Drink enough water.
  6. Avoid spicy, oily, and bakery products and also foods rich in white sugar.
  7. Cut down on tea and coffee and limit to not more than two cups per day.
  8. Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

Alarm features

  1. Recurrent vomiting or blood in vomit
  2. Weight loss
  3. Recurrent abdominal pain
  4. Family history of any stomach cancer
  5. No relief or recurrence of symptoms on stopping medications

Treatment usually is multipronged Lifestyle modification remains the mainstay in uncomplicated cases. Patients may be asked to get a endoscopy to rule out a ulcer or bacteria if any alarm features are present.

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