What is Acidity?
Acidity is also called acid reflux in medical terms. It is characterized by heartburn experienced around the lower chest area (the hollow part) or above the stomach. The heartburn is caused due to the acid flowing back into the food pipe. This condition is a result of indulging in wrong food habits (oily and spicy foods) and poor lifestyle choices.
The food consumed move down through the esophagus into the stomach. The gastric glands present in the stomach, produce acid which is needed to digest the food and to kill any germs present. When gastric glands produce acid more than the required amount, the condition is termed acidity.
The causes of acidity vary from person to person. Some of the causes include the following:
– Side effect of medicines
– Certain foods consumed in excess
– Unhealthy eating habits
– Any medical conditions
– Lack of sleep
The acidity symptoms that indicate acidity reflux include the following:
– Difficulties Swallowing: If an individual experiences clawing, scratching, and narrowing of the throat while attempting to swallow, there is a high chance that one may be suffering from acid reflux.
According to reports, chronic reflux can lead to narrowing of the esophagus. This condition is also referred to as ‘benign esophageal stricture’ in medical terms. This scenario occurs when acid produced by gastric glands in the stomach irritates and damages the lining of the esophagus, resulting in the development of scar tissues and inflammations (or esophagitis).
– Unexplained Pneumonia: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can activate or worsen pulmonary diseases including asthma, chest congestion, and pneumonia if existing.
According to reports by the National Institutes of Health, irritation due to the flow back of stomach acid in the esophagus can cause abdominal pain, wheezing, coughing, and chest discomfort which later develops as unexplained pneumonia in the lungs.
– Hoarse Voice: When acid consistently flows up into the upper esophagus and sphincter, it impacts the larynx (voice box) and throat resulting in a sore throat and a hoarse voice.
If the condition is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the vocal cords. If there is a change in a voice just after meals, a medical professional should be consulted and the cause should be diagnosed.
– Breathing issue: Acidity can create breathing issues and even asthma in severe cases. The acid which is bouncing back may enter into the airways causing uneasiness in breathing.
Also, asthma medications tend to worsen the effect of acidity.
– Asthma: Like unexplained pneumonia, acid reflux can cause chronic breathing difficulties such as asthma, according to reports.
Acid reflux is found in 75-percent treatment-resistant asthma patients.
The source also notes that roughly 75-percent of treatment-resistant asthma patients also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is why asthma patients are twice as likely to suffer from acid reflux compared to non-asthma patients.
– Regurgitation: The condition is defined as a bounce-back of food or stomach content in the esophagus.
People suffering from acid reflux have a complaint of nausea. Sometimes, it is also followed by vomiting as stomach content such as food comes back to the esophagus. This whole process also leaves a bitter or acidic taste at the back of the throat.
– Sour Taste: In case of acidity, stomach acid bounces back into the esophagus resulting in foul, bitter and sour taste in the mouth and back of the throat.
In medical terms, the condition is defined as “silent reflux” which explains the re-bounce of stomach contents along with stomach acids into the esophagus and mouth.
– Excess Saliva synthesis: When the mouth produces excess saliva, it indicates nausea or a person is about to vomit. Excess of saliva is also a symptom of acid reflux, as salivary glands are triggered and the esophagus gets irritated from stomach acid which has bounced back.
– Chest Pain: The pain occurs when stomach acid splashes back into the esophagus, resulting in severe pain.
Sometimes, pain due to acid reflux is so intense that an individual may mistake it as a heart attack. This incident can happen vice-versa also, an individual going through chest pain due to some heart problem, assumes acidity as a reason.
If this situation is experienced, the individual should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
– Bad breath: This is one of the embarrassing situations that an individual goes through while suffering from acid reflux. It is caused due to the acid flowing backward from the stomach and digestive system into the oral cavity.
– Dry cough: A person suffering from acidity might also suffer from different respiratory concerns and one of them is a dry cough.
This condition occurs due to the presence of stomach acid in the lungs. It can also result in wheezing. This condition is usually experienced during the night or while lying.
If the cough is chronic, a pH test is recommended to diagnose the exact reason behind the symptom and respective treatment should be taken.
The above-written symptoms may indicate some other disease, however, if more than 3 symptoms are common then there is a high chance of acidity. It is essential to do a regular body check-up to stay fit and healthy.
A doctor should be consulted to diagnose the exact cause and if required, an individual should undergo the following tests:
– X-ray – This helps in examining the stomach and esophagus.
– Endoscopy- The viewing test allows a medical professional to see the lining of the esophagus and stomach.
Based on the severity of the condition, antacid and other appropriate medicines are recommended.
Preventive measure to avoid Acidity:
To avoid acidity, some of the changes should be included in daily life. Following are the preventive measures:
– Avoid consumption of spicy food or fried food
– Eat more fruits and leafy vegetables
– Eat small but regular meals. The interval between 2 meals should not be more than 3 hours.
– Last meal should be taken a few hours before sleeping
– Cloves, tulsi, saunf, etc should be chewed regularly
– Medicines belonging to the category of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) should be avoided.
– Long walks and exercises involving deep breathing should be practiced often.
– Reduce stress
– Alcohol consumption should be avoided
– Caffeinated and soda drinks should be avoided
If acidity is not treated at right time, it may lead to following complications:
– Excessive vomiting
– Difficulty in swallowing
– Severe pain in the abdomen and chest
– Gastric ulcers