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Acidity - Causes, Symptom, Treatment and Diagnosis

Last Updated: Jun 24, 2023

What is acidity?

Acidity is a medical condition that is caused due to excess production of acid. This acid is produced by the glands of the stomach. Acidity causes signs such as ulcers in the stomach, gastric inflammation, heartburn, and dyspepsia.

It is usually caused due to several factors such as irregular eating patterns, lack of physical sports or activities, alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, fad diets, and poor eating habits. People are more prone to developing acidity in places where people consume more non-vegetarian, spicy and oily food.

A lot of medications such as NSAID (Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also make an individual more susceptible to developing gastric acidity. Acidity is characterised by a deep burning sensation after consuming a heavy meal. Indigestion and constipation are also common in people who have acidity.

It can be cured by Home Remedies or by consuming antacids and implementing healthy. A technique is known as endosperm also provides immense relief from acid reflux. Common signs of acidity include indigestion, nausea, sour taste in the mouth, constipation, restlessness and burning sensation in the stomach & throat.

What acidity does to your body?

Acidity or acidosis leads to the imbalance of pH in the body, it usually happens when the kidney and lungs are unable to remove excess acid in the body. This thus then leads to acidity.

What causes acidity?

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Our stomach usually produces gastric acids which help in digestion. The corrosive effects of these acids are balanced by the production of prostaglandins and natural bicarbonate which are secreted in the mucous lining. This damages the stomach lining and causes acidity.

Other factors which cause acidity include:

  • Consuming non-vegetarians and spicy foods.
  • Excessive stress.
  • Consuming too much alcohol.
  • Smoking frequently
  • Stomach disorders such as stomach tumors, gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcers.
  • Medications such as NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

How does acidity occur?

Acidity occurs when the gastric glands in the stomach produce an overabundance of acid and the kidneys can not get rid of it. It usually comes with heartburn, reflux, indigestion. Typically, acidity is caused by consuming extra spicy food, coffee, overeating, having a low-fibre diet.

Who is prone to acidity?

People who are prone to acidity are:

  • Overeat heavy meals
  • Obesity
  • Snacking close to bedtime
  • Consume too much coffee

Can Acidity go away on its own?

Acidity, commonly referred to as acid reflux, is a condition accompanied by the movement of gastric acid back into the esophagus. The occurrence of Acidity is quite normal if it happens occasionally, but it's a serious concern if the frequency is high.

Acidity can be a chronic condition and in that case, it doesn’t go away on its own. Consultation with a doctor becomes necessary for early treatment, otherwise, it may lead to complications such as ulcers, strictures, and inflammation in the oesophagus.

What causes too much acid in your body?

Acidity is of two types:

  • Respiratory acidosis happens when there is extra CO2 in the body. It is caused by chronic airway conditions, like asthma, injury to the chest, obesity, sedative, overuse of alcohol, muscle weakness, deformed chest structure.
  • Metabolic acidosis occurs when the kidney is unable to remove excess acid in the body and is too much lactic acid in the body.

What is the difference between acidity and gas?

The difference between acidity and gas is:

  • Acidity is the condition in which the body produces more than the required amount of acid for digestion. Acidity is usually accompanied by heartburn.
  • While Gas is produced in the colon and its aids in digestion. An average person releases gas about 20 times a day either through rectum or mouth.

    However, when the excess gas is produced or trapped because of eating large meals or spicy food, it is released through a burp.

    It can mild to extreme and sometimes cause stomach pain if it is trapped or when the digestive system is not running smoothly.

What are the Early Symptoms of Acidity?

  • Heartburn: A burning pain or discomfort that may move from the stomach to the abdomen, chest, or even up to the throat.
  • Regurgitation: A bitter or sour-tasting acid will back into the throat or mouth that eventually makes sores in the spots.
  • Stomach bloating, Hematemesis, bloody or black tarry stool, frequent burps, difficulty in swallowing, continuous hiccups, nausea, vomiting, feeling fullness always, chronic sore throat, persistent dry cough, restlessness, indigestion, and unexpected weight loss.

What are Standard Acidity Precautions?

One can follow a number of methods to prevent acidity and they are quite simple to follow:

  • Avoid foods causing reflux: Do not more spicy foods, coffee, carbonated beverages, acidic and fatty foods
  • Split your meal: Do not stick to 3 times regular meal. Split it into 5 smaller portions so that pressure and reflux can be avoided
  • Don’t lie down after eating: Take at least 2 hours to reach your bed after eating because the food will be back flown into the esophagus.
  • Try to eliminate acidity triggering foods for some weeks, examine and reintroduce
  • Lose weight: Excessive fat pressures the abdomen region, thus pushing gastric juice into the esophagus. Try to reduce weight if you are overweight
  • Avoid certain medicines: Some OTC medicines like ibuprofen, paracetamol may induce acidity and other prescription medicines such as Anticholinergics, Dopamine-like drugs, Theophylline, Sedatives, Calcium channel blockers and beta-blocker do develop acidity.
  • Try to wear loose clothes around the waist and stomach region as it could reduce the tension around the areas.

Should I go to urgent care for Acidity?

Acid reflux is accompanied by discomfort in the stomach as a result of rich or spicy food or a large meal. Acidity can usually be calmed by over-the-counter medicines like an antacid. But one should go to urgent care if he/she experiences breathing difficulties, persistent difficulties with swallowing, chowking, the passage of black tarry stool, weakness, or loss of weight.

When Should You See a Gastroenterologist for Acid Reflux?

Though acid reflux is common in all, do visit a gastroenterologist if the symptom is recurrent. This potential condition will not disappear on its own. Untreated acid reflux or GERD will lead to esophageal inflammation, ulcers and cancer too. Immediately consult a gastroenterologist if you feel

  • Persistent symptoms for more than two weeks
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heartburn with nausea and vomiting
  • Unable to swallow
  • Chronic hoarseness and wheezing
  • Nighttime symptoms that affect sleep quality

During your visit, the doctor will examine, esophagus, stomach, duodenum to determine the cause and will provide you the appropriate treatment.

Key Highlights:

Treatable by medical professional

Usually self diagnosable

Lab test not required

Short-term: resolves within days to weeks

Non communicable

How is Acidity Diagnosed?

Acidity is diagnosed with various methods. Some of these are listed below:

  • pH monitoring: It checks out the acid level in the esophagus. A device is inserted into the esophagus by the doctor; it is left there for 2 days to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus.
  • Barium swallow: It helps to trace out the narrowed esophagus and ulcers. A solution has to be followed and then an X-Ray will be taken.
  • Endoscopy: A long, flexible lighted tube with a tiny camera at the bottom is inserted through the mouth and with the help of the camera esophagus, stomach issues are checked out. It is done with the help of sedation or anesthesia.

Most Effective Treatment for Acidity

Acidity can be cured by consuming antacids that contain aluminum, calcium or magnesium. Many times, H2 receptor blockers (histamine blocking agents) like nizatidine, famotidine, ranitidine, and cimetidine are used. Proton pump inhibitors are also prescribed by the doctor if you have severe acidity. Acidity can also be treated by Home Remedies such as consuming bananas, cold milk, aniseeds, cumin, cardamom, cloves, mint leaves, and ginger.

You can also prevent acidity by avoiding spicy foods or pickles during meals, eating more vegetables and fruits, not consuming non-vegetarian food, avoiding medications such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) & steroids and reducing stress.

Sometimes acidity can also be caused by consuming food just before sleeping. This provokes the stomach enzymes to flow back to your esophagus and cause acid reflux. This can be extremely detrimental to health.

Is vitamin C good for acidity?

It has been found that Vitamin C from fruits, vegetables, supplements help to relieve acidity and its symptoms. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, aids in digestion, and promotes healthy gums and teeth.

Who is eligible for the treatment of acidity?

Acidity is not a serious concern in most cases which can usually be calmed by over-the-counter medicines. But there are certain conditions that need to be treated under consultation with a doctor, such as:

  • Occurrence of the symptoms for a longer duration than expected.
  • Persistent heartburn in spite of medications.
  • Change in frequency or intensity of acid reflux.
  • Poor sleep quality due to nighttime symptoms.
  • Acid reflux that interferes with your daily activities or affects your quality of life.
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Nausea or vomiting accompanying heartburn.
  • Hoarseness of voice or wheezing.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Many patients usually do not require treatment as most of the cases are associated with normal symptoms such as discomfort in the stomach. The mild discomfort is amenable to treatment by over-the-counter medications such as antacids. Lifestyle modifications also lead to the resolution of symptoms. In other words, there is no need for a doctor’s consultation.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Treatment in case of acid reflux is followed by some post-treatment guidelines which are such as:

  • Avoidance of trigger factors of heartburn.
  • Intake of the meal should be at least two to three hours before going to bed.
  • Overeating should be avoided.
  • Small and frequent meals should be preferred. Slow-eating of food should be preferred.

What are the side effects of Acidity treatments?

Acidity treatments generally include medications with antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. Though immediate relief may be provided through these medicines, there are side effects that have been observed with their chronic use. Some of the proven side effects are bone fracture, renal failure, heart attack, dementia, and vitamin deficiency.

How long does it take to recover from Acidity?

The recovery period in case of Acidity depends upon factors such as type of medications, the severity of the disease, and dietary intake. It takes more than a week to recover if proton pump inhibitors are taken, otherwise it may take comparatively less for H2 blockers.

In case erosion occurs as a result of Acidity, it takes many weeks to get over the disease while it can take up to a month if asthma occurs as a consequence. Diet plays an important role as it can speed up recovery.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of treatment may not be permanent. While medications help in prompt relief from the symptoms, lifestyle changes and avoidance of triggering factors help to achieve a permanent cure. In few cases, the symptoms may persist in spite of all efforts aimed at the treatment of Acidity.

What are the Natural Ways to Reduce Acidity?

Some of the natural ways to reduce the acidity are as follows:

  • Almonds: It neutralises the stomach juice, relieves the pain and prevents acidity entirely. Munch almonds when you are in a situation of not taking your meals so that it avoids excessive acid secretion. Take 4 almonds after eating.
  • Banana and Apple: Banana contains antacids naturally that fight against acidity and intake of a few slices of apple before bedtime helps in relieving heartburn or reflux.
  • Coconut water: While drinking coconut water, the body’s pH acidic level turns alkaline and it produces mucus in the stomach. Mucous prevents the stomach from the severe effects of excessive acid production. This fibre-rich water supports digestion and prevents the remittance of acidity.
  • Enough sleep: Go for at least 7 hours continuous sleep.

Also Read: Home remedies for acidity

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Acidity:

Physical exercises are linked to Acidity in both positive as well as negative ways. Hence it is important for us to know how Acidity is affected by the exercises that we implement in our daily life. Although doing exercises are beneficial in such cases, high-intensity exercises including weight lifting, running, jogging, jump rope, and climbing stairs may aggravate the symptoms following the worsening of the condition.

However, slower as well as low-intensity exercises which keep one in an upright position and do not involve bending forward should be preferred in such conditions.

Some of them include swimming, water aerobics, cardio, biking or stationary biking, brisk walking, light weight lifting exercises, and yoga. These physical exercises should not be performed vigorously and must be done with proper precautions regarding the poses.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Alternatives to the treatment are acupuncture, relaxation, melatonin, hypnotherapy, herbal remedies, and baking soda. Lifestyle modifications like losing weight, avoiding smoking, wearing loose clothes, sleeping with head end up may aid in relief from Acidity.

Which foods reduce acidity?

The food that helps reduce acidity are:

  1. Vegetables.
  2. Ginger.
  3. Oatmeal.
  4. Egg whites.
  5. Non citrus fruits such as melons, bananas, apples, and pears, help reduce acid triggers and symptoms.
  6. Seafood and Lean meat such as turkey, fish, chicken.
  7. Healthy fat such as walnuts, sesame oil, avocados, sunflower oil, flaxseed, and olive oil. This help reduces the saturated fat and replaces them with healthier unsaturated fats.

Is milk good for acidity?

Milk may help buffer the acid in the stomach and absorb the excessive acid produced in the body. It can also help alleviate acidity indications like reflux or heartburn. However, milk should be taken pain and cold with no added sugar.

Is hot water good for acidity?

Warm water is great for flushing out toxins from the body and makes food breakdown easier. Additionally, water has a neutral pH which thus helps increase the pH in the stomach and reduce acidity.

Which drink is best for acidity?

Drinks that are good acidity are:

  • Herbal tea
  • Coconut water
  • Low-fat or skim milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Plant-based milk
  • Water
  • Smoothies

Does coffee help in acidity?

Coffee does not help with acidity as it stimulates the excessive gastric acid production in the body which may rise up to the oesophagus. Coffee thus increases the acidity as well as heightens its symptoms. Along with coffee, it is advised to avoid caffeinated drinks while suffering from acidosis.

Is curd good for acidity?

Curd is really good at controlling acidity, it is a natural antacid and a probiotic. Curd contains good bacteria that has a soothing effect on the stomach, helps acidity, and gives a boost to the immune system.

What foods are high in acidity?

Foods that are rich in acid are:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Red meat
  • Dairy products
  • Citrus fruits
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Legumes
  • Walnuts

What is the price of Acidity treatments in India?

Medical management can be done with expenditure ranging from less than a rupee to up to 100 rupees. However, if surgical management is indicated then the expenditure varies from 50000 rupees to up to 200000 rupees.

Summary: Acidity is commonly referred to as acid reflux. It is a condition which is accompanied by the movement of gastric acid back into the esophagus. Occurrence of acidity is quite normal if it happens occasionally, but it's a serious concern if the frequency is high. Antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors are some of the options to treat acidity. Consultation with a doctor is important for an early treatment, otherwise it may lead to complications such as ulcers, strictures and inflammation in oesophagus. Some of the diet modifications and lifestyle changes play an important role in controlling the condition.


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Written ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant Singh Doctor of Medicine,MD - Consultant Physician,MDGeneral Physician
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