Acidity (Acid Reflux): Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
- Acidity, also known as acid reflux is a condition, is characterized by burning sensation in the lower part of the chest
- Chronic or long-term GERD can lead to some serious complications
- When the acid reflux is occurring more than twice a week, it is diagnosed as GERD
Acidity which is also called acid reflux is a condition that is characterized by a burning sensation in the lower part of the chest area and can be accompanied by pain. Many of us suffer from this condition time and again, but do we actually know how and why is it caused?
What is Acidity?
To digest the food, our stomach normally produces acid; hydrochloric acid. A ring of muscle is present at the entrance of the stomach which is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the food enters the stomach through the food pipe or the esophagus, this valve LES closes to prevent the acid or the stomach contents to move up into the esophagus.
When this valve doesn’t close properly or opens often, it can lead to acid reflux causing symptoms like chest discomfort or heartburn. Along with heartburn, one can also experience some regurgitation which causes sour or bitter-tasting acid in your mouth or throat. Other symptoms can include frequent burping, nausea, difficulty in swallowing, restlessness, indigestion, dry cough, etc.
What Causes Acidity?
Bad food and lifestyle habits are the major culprits for acidity, but not many realize that. Hereditary can also be one of the factors behind it. Let’s check out the reasons for acidity in-depth:
- Poor eating habits such as overeating, eating right before going to sleep, irregular timings of eating, skipping meals, and eating excessive spicy or salty foods.
- Consuming certain foods in excess which are highly acidic or can irritate the digestive tract such as citrus fruits, processed foods, fried foods, coffee, alcohol, sodas, and other carbonated drinks.
- Frequent smoking
- Lack of sleep and excessive mental stress.
- Associated symptoms of existing medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, etc.
- Side-effects of certain medications such as anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics, etc.
- Lack of physical exercise
Pregnancy can also cause acidity due to the pressure on the intestinal organs. Similarly, obesity is also a risk factor associated with acidity.
Natural Remedies For Acidity
Many people prefer home remedies over medications to cure acidity. Here are some natural remedies which are been used for years as a cure for acidity.
1. Holy Basil
Tulsi or holy basil is among the most effective acidity home remedies as it can improve the environment in your stomach. It reduces an excess accumulation of stomach acid and increases mucus secretion. This helps counteract the effects of acidity on your stomach walls.
It also stimulates the proper secretion of digestive enzymes by increasing your mucus cells. Tulsi also has antiulcer properties that make it a possible addition to the list of heartburn home remedies you may already be using. Boil basil leaves in water and has this frequently throughout the day to get instant relief.
Raisins, including black raisins, have a rich profile of useful minerals like potassium, copper, and iron. These alkaline compounds help in reducing acidity in your stomach. Black raisins are not just a good nutritional addition to your diet but also help absorb troublesome stomach acids and boost digestion. This is what makes them one of the useful acidity home remedies that you can try.
3. ButtermilkButtermilk helps with the discomfort you experience during acidity due to the lactic acid content in it. This calms your stomach and reduces the effects of acidity. It also decreases irritation in the stomach lining caused by acid reflux. Drinking buttermilk both along with or after your meals is one of the home remedies for acid reflux.
Jaggery or Gur can initiate the production of digestive enzymes and lead to better bowel movements. As one of the acidity home remedies, it helps to reduce the damage caused by excess acidity on your stomach lining. It contains potassium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin that benefit your stomach health. Add a small amount of jaggery in your meals, or have it post a meal and watch it do wonders!
5. Fennel Seeds
Saunf or fennel is often used in Indian cooking but is better known as an after-meal digestive. Since it is alkaline, it has the ability to counteract acidity. Eating fennel is one of the common heartburn home remedies since these seeds encourage the release of digestive juices that not only boost digestion but also tamp down on the acidity.
They also reduce gas and bloating. You can simply chew fennel seeds after your meals or have fennel tea. Prepare this by grinding seeds and boiling them in water.
6. Coconut waterCoconut water can help soothe your digestive tract as it is a great way to deal with acid reflux. It is high in electrolytes and minerals that maintain the pH in your stomach and help control acidity. It also increases the production of mucous in your stomach, which has the same benefit. Drink fresh coconut water and include it in your daily routine as one of the best home remedies for acid reflux.
Bananas are not only high in fiber but also reduce acidity by virtue of being alkaline. Both these factors soothe your stomach lining and reduce acidity. No wonder they have been considered one of the best home remedies for acid reflux for ages! To gain all these benefits, only eat ripe bananas to ensure you don’t experience heartburn and benefit from the potassium present in them.
8. Chewing Gum
The action of chewing a piece of gum helps to secrete saliva in your mouth. This reduces the amount of acid that is present in your esophagus and reduces the symptoms of acid reflux. The use of chewing gum can be a smart way to include acidity home remedies in your daily life. For better health, choose gum that does not contain added sugar.
Drinking ginger tea or sucking on ginger candy can help reduce heartburn since ginger reduces inflammation in your esophagus. While more studies are required to understand this medicinal benefit, it is believed to have antioxidants that relieve stomach irritation. It also soothes the gastro tract and reduces acid reflux symptoms such as the burning sensations that are common to this condition.
10. MuskmelonMuskmelon or kharbuja is a fruit that has a rich content of fiber as well as antioxidants. It reduces acidity by protecting your gastric mucosa. The fruit also has a cooling effect due to its high water and mineral content. This helps to provide hydration and balances the pH levels in your stomach. You can try muskmelon juice as one of the heartburn home remedies.
11. Black cumin seeds
Black cumin seeds promote the secretion of mucous in your stomach and thus aid in decreasing the ill effects of acidity. Cumin offsets acidity in your stomach and also prevents indigestion. Like other acidity home remedies, it can also relieve stomach pain. Drink cumin seed water by boiling it or simply chew the seeds to relieve acidity and heartburn as well as other ailments related to digestion.
12. Lukewarm water
Have a glass or two of lukewarm water every day to treat acidity and benefit from a range of other hydration-related benefits. It not only reduces the strength of stomach acids but also prevents them from reaching your throat and leading to acid reflux. Drink enough water, and you can manage the electrolyte content in your stomach to decrease acidity. It also combines with fiber and absorbs the acid produced by your stomach.
13. Lemon juice
Just one tablespoon of lemon juice diluted in around 250ml of water can help defuse acidity and reduce the heartburn you may experience. This benefit of lemon juice is somewhat debated as the fruit itself is acidic but may work as an alkaline when digested. So, go slow and try if it works for you as one of the home remedies for acid reflux.
Turmeric has a rich profile of antioxidants and reduces inflammation, which helps relieve acidity by acting against oxidative stress. Having turmeric tea or its extract curcumin as one of the acidity home remedies can also reduce heartburn. The best way to consume it is by combining turmeric in lukewarm water and adding black pepper so that your body can absorb it better.
How to Prevent Acidity?
While certain times it is unavoidable, but there are surely certain steps one can take to either prevent it or lessen the severity of the acidity. It demands certain lifestyle modifications and changes in habits, but the results can improve your health and avoid unwanted complications.
- Quit smoking
- Set a routine for meal timings and avoid eating a minimum of 2 hours before sleeping.
- Eat smaller meals and chew your food properly
- Take a 10-15 minutes walk post meals
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can put pressure on the abdomen
- Eat healthily and avoid foods that can trigger acidity
- Try elevating your head while sleeping by keeping an extra pillow
- Drink enough water throughout the day and stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol
- Lose your excess weight and stay active
- Talk to your doctor if your current medication is leading to acidity
- Avoid stress and practice relaxation techniques
What is GERD?
When acid reflux occurs more than twice a week, it is diagnosed as GERD; Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Chronic or long-term GERD can lead to some serious complications like:
- Damage to the esophagus: Conditions like esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (permanent damage to the lining of the esophagus).
- Tooth enamel erosion leads to cavities.
- Esophageal Cancer
When to See a Doctor?
Although home remedies work well with most mild cases, one should see a doctor if the problem persists or is repetitive. Chronic acidity can cause esophageal damage and other complications. Try to make good choices with foods, avoid bad food and lifestyle habits and you can win this battle against acidity! It is always better to prevent than cure. You can seek medical advice from top doctors for your acidity and its cure on Bajaj Finserv Health.
Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.