Acidity or heartburn is a burning sensation arising from the stomach into your throat. Have you experienced this kind of burning sensation?
This condition is commonly known as acidity, acid dyspepsia or heartburn. It is also known as acid reflux, acid indigestion, or pyrosis. This is nothing but an increase of acid in the stomach.
The gastric glands of the stomach secrete hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for the digestion of food we eat. This acid also helps in killing any invading pathogens.
When there is an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid, then it is called as hyperacidity or acid dyspepsia.
This acid level is generally controlled, but due to some reasons it increases beyond the normal levels and leads to hyperacidity.
It occurs generally after a heavy spicy meal or after lying down immediately after eating.
Many times this excess stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.
When acidity symptoms occur more than twice a week, the condition is known as Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Gastroesophageal reflux disease is the most common cause of heartburn. In this condition, there is inflammation of the esophagus.
GERD is most common in Western countries, affecting about 20 to 30% of the population.
Beware – Acidity and its symptoms can be confused with some serious chest related problems such as pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, heart attack.
Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.
If home remedies and antacids do not help in reducing the symptoms, visit your physician immediately.
Common causes of acidity –
Hiatal hernia – is the most common cause of acidity. It’s stomach abnormality where the upper part of your stomach bulges through the diaphragm (A muscle that separates the stomach from the chest). The diaphragm has a small opening i.e. hiatus through which the esophagus (food pipe) passes before connecting to the stomach.
Normally, the diaphragm keeps this acid in our stomach. But in hiatal hernia, the acid moves up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Other causes include –
Hyperacidity, by itself, is not a disease. It is actually an effect of certain triggers. These are –
- Excessive intake of chocolate, tea, coffee, carbonated drinks
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Hypercalcemia – an increase in calcium level in the body can also lead to hyperacidity. It is associated with conditions such as parathyroid problems, malignant tumors, vitamin D metabolic disorders, and renal failure.
- Wrong eating habits – skipping meals, meals at irregular times, excessive eating, spicy food, low fiber diet, and more salt in food
- Fast food such as pizza, doughnuts, fried food, and non-vegetarian food
- Side-effects of certain medicines such as painkillers (NSAIDs), blood pressure medicines, antibiotics, medicines used for depression and anxiety disorders.
- Pregnancy – During pregnancy, the progesterone hormone causes the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. This can lead to heartburn and acidity.
- GERD, peptic ulcers, tumors, & other stomach disorders
- A sedentary lifestyle with lack of exercise
- Not getting enough sleep
- Addictions like smoking & alcohol
Symptoms of acidity –
The most common symptoms are chest pain and burning sensation in the center of the chest.
- Restlessness with constant pain in the stomach
- Nausea, vomiting
- Burning sensation of chest
- Loss of appetite
- Belching with sour eructation, sour taste in the mouth
- The heaviness of abdomen, abdominal distention, and constipation
- A sensation of bloating of stomach
- Burning pain in the stomach, throat, and chest
- Frequent hiccups
- Bad breath
GERD symptoms include:
- Constant pain or discomfort in the chest and throat
- Severe pain in the chest or abdomen
- Excessive vomiting
- Chronic discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Bloody or black stool accompanied by bloody vomiting
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
- Dysphagia – Difficulty in swallowing food or liquids
- Weight loss without any known reason
Complications of acidity –
- If untreated, chronic acidity can lead to esophageal ulcers, esophagitis, esophageal strictures, and Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal cancer
- Dysphagia – Difficulty in swallowing
- Gastric ulcers
- Acid reflux can erode the enamel of teeth causing cavities.
Lifestyle changes for acidity –
- Losing weight if you are obese maintain a healthy weight
- Drink 2-3 liters of water every day
- Chew your food properly
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
- Avoid oily, spices food, fast food
- Make sure to have fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Avoid late-night TV watching and sleep early at night
- Do exercise & yoga regularly
- Take medicines only when necessary
- Never skip your breakfast. Take more fruits and raw vegetables in your breakfast
- Avoid taking more tea and coffee.
- Eat smaller portions at regular intervals
- Avoid food that causes acidity
- Spend some time in the sun
- Avoid caffeine and carbonated soft drinks
- Sleep on your left side
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Exercise regularly
- Do not lie down for half an hour after meals
- Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts
- Learn stress-relieving techniques
- Avoid medicines that cause acidity
- Increase the height of your bed by at least 6 inches from the side of your head
Generally, it is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms.
Some tests can be done to confirm the diagnosis –
- Barium swallow followed by X-ray – for rule out narrowing of the esophagus
- Esophageal manometry – to check the function and movement of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter
- pH monitoring for acid in your esophagus
- Endoscopy – is an internal examination done by a camera to check for problems in the esophagus or stomach.
- Biopsy – usually done during endoscopy to rule out any infection or abnormalities
Home remedies for acidity –
- Generally, for acidity, most of us prefer home remedies instead of medicines.
- Drinking lukewarm water after every meal
- The use of garlic & ginger in food helps in acidity & digestion.
- Bananas – ripe banana is a perfect antidote to severe bouts of acidity. Almonds and bananas when taken together, are a perfect antidote for acidity.
- Cold milk – calcium in the milk helps to maintain the pH balance and proper digestion.
- Buttermilk – it contains lactic acid that neutralizes the acidity in the stomach. It also acts as a natural probiotic, which is important for good digestion.
- Tulsi or Basil Leaves – chew 3-4 leaves in case of heartburn and nausea.
- Pineapple juice – it contains enzyme Bromelain, which helps to control the hydrochloric acid level in your stomach.
- Aloe Vera juice – acts as a coolant and relives the heartburn. It contains strong anti-inflammatory elements, vitamins, and amino acids, which lower down the acidity levels and cools down the body.
- Mint leaves or Pudina – the best natural coolant to reduce the burning and pain that often accompanies acidity and indigestion.
- Clove – sucking a clove often relieves the acidity accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Homeopathic Treatment for Acidity –
The normal functioning of our stomach depends upon what we eat and how our digestive system absorbs the nutrients from the food.
Most of the hyperacidity patients are taking antacids regularly, which suppresses the acidity but does not treat the underlying causes.
Homeopathy treatment targets the underlying cause and improves the acidity symptoms very effectively, safely, and naturally.
Homeopathy always treats the person as a whole not only the disease. The homeopathic medicines are selected after analysis and evaluation of the data recorded during case taking.
Homeopathy treatment for acidity not only improves the symptoms but also regulates the digestion, absorption, and normal bowel motions.
Triggering factors like anxiety, depression, and stress also can be treated by homeopathy. Homeopathy treatment believes in the totality of symptoms which includes physical as well as mental symptoms of the patient.
There is no disease-specific medicine on homeopathy. The prescription i.e. similimum is based on the totality of symptoms.
Let’s have a look at leading and routinely prescribed homeopathic medicines for the treatment for acidity –
China officinalis –
There is a tenderness of the abdomen with vomiting of undigested food. Slow digestion and feeling of weight after eating is also well marked. China is often prescribed in tea drinkers.
Flatulence, hiccups with much belching of bitter fluid followed by bloating is also well marked. Abdominal pain gets better by bending double. There is acidity due to liver disorders with jaundice.
Stool too contains undigested food particles with much flatulence. Even soft stool passes with difficulty. Mentally china patient is apathetic, indifferent, disobedient, taciturn, and despondent. There is sleeplessness due to so many ideas and thoughts in mind with anxious, frightful dreams.
A well-marked medicine in homeopathy for digestive disturbances where the liver function is seriously disturbed. Dryness of throat with regurgitation of food and drink through the nose.
Dyspepsia accompanied by sour eructation. After eating there is pressure in the stomach with a bitter taste in the mouth. Burning eructation in throat especially at night. Desire for warm food and drink.
The Lycopodium patient is extremely sensitive, little things annoy him. Aversion to undertake new things and afraid to be alone. There is a constant fear of breaking down under stress. Loss of self-confidence, weak memory, and confused thoughts in mind.
Complaints aggravate by heat, at night, right side, and better by motion, after midnight, cold.
Nux vomica –
Nux vomica is pre-eminently a male remedy. It’s a prominently used medicine for many health disorders caused due to modern lifestyle. The typical nux patient is thin, active, nervous and irritable in nature. Mental stress with sedentary life tends to cause many health disturbances.
Ill effects of coffee, wine, tobacco, opium cause various diseases. Sour taste and nausea in the morning, which gets worse after eating. Flatulence and pyrosis with sour, bitter eructation.
The stomach region is very sensitive to pressure with bloated epigastrium. The patient desires for stimulants and fats and can tolerate them well. Constipation accompanied by blind hemorrhoids.
Aggravation by morning, stress, mental exertion, spices, stimulants, cold and better by rest, evening, strong pressure, wet weather.
It is pre-eminently a female remedy, especially suited for mild, gentle, yielding disposition. Pulsatilla patient is sad, crying easily and of changeable character. Offensive odor from the mouth with a bitter taste.
There is aversion for fat, warm food, and drinks. Bitterness, heartburn with flatulence. All gone sensation in the stomach especially in tea drinkers.
Pain in abdomen hours after eating followed by vomiting of food.
All complaints worse by heat, fat food, after eating, evening, lying on the left side and gets better by motion, open-air, cold in general, cold food and drinks.
It is a great anti-psoric remedy suited to dirty, filthy people. Sulphur patient has delusions of wealth, is irritable, depressed, childish, selfish, lazy and religious in nature.
Dryness of lips with a bitter taste in the mouth accompanied by dryness of throat and burning. There are putrid eructations with the salty taste of food taken. Great acidity and sour eructations with the desire for sweets.
Also indicated for nausea during pregnancy. Complaints worse by rest, standing, warmth, washing, night, and stimulants.
Other homeopathic medicines used for acidity are –
Antim tart, Argentum nit, Arsenic album, Calcarea carb, Carbo veg, Graphites, Kali carb, Natrum mur, Natrum phos, Nitric acid, Phosphorus, Sepia, Silicea, etc.
“I believe that human health is a precious thing which may not be compromised at any cost. That’s why I strongly believe in Homeopathy because it is so natural and NO harming side effects at all”.