In modern times, individuals are experiencing issues related to acidity and gas due to unhealthy dietary patterns and sedentary lifestyles. A significant number of patients express discomfort related to gas and acid problems. Hyperacidity is a prevalent cause of these issues, affecting individuals across various age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and communities.
Hyperacidity refers to the excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid, a digestive enzyme that aids in the breakdown of food particles into smaller forms to facilitate digestion. When an excess amount of hydrochloric acid accumulates in the stomach, it leads to the condition known as hyperacidity.
Causes of Hyperacidity
Hyperacidity can be caused by various factors, including:
- Unhealthy Diet: Consuming spicy, oily, and fatty foods, as well as excessive intake of caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, and acidic foods, can contribute to hyperacidity.
- Irregular Eating Habits: Skipping meals, eating irregularly, or consuming large meals can disrupt the normal digestive process and trigger excessive acid production.
- Stress and Lifestyle: High levels of stress, anxiety, and a sedentary lifestyle can affect the digestive system and lead to increased acid production.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put pressure on the stomach and promote acid reflux, leading to hyperacidity.
- Certain Medications: Certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, and certain antibiotics can irritate the stomach lining and contribute to hyperacidity.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, gastritis, and hiatal hernias can increase the risk of hyperacidity.
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus and cause acidity.
Signs and Symptoms of hyperacidity
The treatment and management of hyperacidity typically involve a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, and, in some cases, medication. Here are some strategies that can help alleviate and prevent hyperacidity:
- Lifestyle Modifications:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Losing weight if you are overweight can reduce the pressure on your stomach and help alleviate hyperacidity.
- Manage stress: Practise stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you enjoy.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Both smoking and alcohol can worsen hyperacidity symptoms, so it’s best to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Dietary Changes:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals: Consuming smaller meals throughout the day instead of large, heavy meals can reduce the workload on your stomach and minimise acid production.
- Avoid trigger foods: identify and avoid foods that trigger your hyperacidity symptoms. Common triggers include spicy foods, fatty and fried foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, and caffeine.
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Taking your time to eat and thoroughly chewing your food can aid digestion and prevent excessive acid production.
- Stay hydrated. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to promote healthy digestion.
- Antacids: Over-the-counter antacids can provide temporary relief by neutralising stomach acid. However, they are not a long-term solution.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers: These medications reduce the production of stomach acid and can provide relief from hyperacidity symptoms. They are typically prescribed by a healthcare professional.
- Avoid lying down after meals. Allow a few hours for digestion before lying down or going to bed. This helps prevent acid reflux.
- Elevate the head of your bed: If nighttime symptoms are a problem, try elevating the head of your bed to keep the stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus.
How to cure hyperacidity
- To manage hyperacidity effectively, it is crucial to make dietary adjustments.
- Avoid excessive consumption of salty, oily, sour, and spicy foods. Instead, maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
- Additionally, incorporating regular exercise, particularly walking for at least half an hour, aids digestion and promotes intestinal movement, thereby preventing hyperacidity issues.
- Individuals with hyperacidity should refrain from engaging in heavy lifting, weight training, or exercises that strain the abdominal muscles, such as crunches.
- Implementing simple measures such as adopting healthy eating habits, engaging in physical activities, maintaining a disciplined lifestyle, and seeking medical advice for severe cases are essential steps to address hyperacidity.
How can hyperacidity be managed at home?
There are several ways to manage hyperacidity at home:
- Adopting a healthy diet by avoiding trigger foods like spicy, fatty, and acidic foods
- Eating smaller, frequent meals and avoiding heavy meals
- Practising stress management techniques such as relaxation exercises and meditation
- Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Elevating the head of the bed while sleeping to prevent nighttime acid reflux
It is advisable to consult a doctor if you experience persistent or severe hyperacidity symptoms that significantly impact your daily life or if you have recurrent episodes of hyperacidity. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment options, and prescribe medications if necessary.
Depending on the severity and underlying cause of hyperacidity, a doctor may prescribe medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, or prokinetic agents. These medications help reduce stomach acid production, alleviate symptoms, and promote healing of the stomach lining if there is any damage.
In many cases, adopting lifestyle modifications can effectively manage hyperacidity and reduce symptoms. However, in some instances, medications may be necessary to control acid production and provide relief.