Don’t Let Heartburn Disrupt Your Daily Life
Heartburn is a common complaint, characterized by indigestion or chest pain or discomfort. It is also known as acid reflux. If you suffer from frequent symptoms, you may have Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a more serious form of acid reflux, and you should consult a physician. Certain foods may cause or aggravate the symptoms and should be avoided.
Common causes of acidity
Symptoms of acidity
- Improper dietary habits, overeating, eating excess of fried and fatty foods
- Too much of spices and chillies
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Excessive consumption of caffeine
- Irregular food habits, skipping meals
- Stress and/or anxiety
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Infections (e.g. H. Pylori)
- Excessive and prolonged use of medications like painkillers (NSAIDs) and steroids
Types of acidity
- Dyspepsia (upper abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal bloating, nausea and vomiting)
- Burning sensation or pain in the stomach 1 to 4 hours after a meal
- Flatulence accompanied by burping
- Bitter/sour taste in the mouth
- Regurgitation of gastric contents
- Ulcers with localized or diffused pain, sometimes radiating to the back or to the chest
- Heartburn and dyspepsia are often the main symptoms of acidity. Heartburn is a burning pain in the chest behind the breast-bone. It usually occurs after meals and is brought on by excess intra-abdominal pressure. It gets worse on lying down and is relieved by sitting up. This type of pain is usually related to posture. Regurgitation of the gastric contents may also occur. Dyspepsia is a burning or aching pain in the upper abdomen that is frequently described as a "stabbing feeling penetrating through the gut".
In Ayurveda, acidity can be classified into four categories.
- Acid reflux – The two types of acid reflux include supine acid reflux and upright acid reflux. The supine form is more prevalent during the night while lying down, while the upright form occurs during the day while the individual is sitting up. Symptoms of both include pain, heartburn, nausea and regurgitation of bile. The supine form is the more harmful of the two, as the stomach acid flows to the esophagus twice. It is evident that due to acid reflux, the bile will travel upwards. However, due to the lying down or supine position, the stomach acid will travel back downwards. Common complications include ulcers, sinusitis, hoarseness and tooth decay. It is important to consult a doctor before symptoms worsen.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) – This is a more serious and chronic form of acid reflux disease. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is unable to close properly. This causes the contents of the stomach to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. GERD can cause additional symptoms of coughing, sore throat and problems swallowing. Stomach ulcers can also occur as a result of GERD, as the stomach acid is constantly travelling back and forth between the stomach and the esophagus.
- Acid indigestion – This is similar to acid reflux, but not a form of it. The symptoms are quite similar to acid reflux or GERD, and last anywhere from minutes to hours. An antacid is generally taken for relief from symptoms. Unlike acid reflux, the cause is generally due to reaction to food, and the symptoms are not as severe.
- Amlapitta (GERD-Reflux Esophagitis): A condition in which stomach contents (food/liquid/acids) regurgitate backward from the stomach into the esophagus causing inflammation of esophagus.
- Pittaja Grahani (Acute Gastritis): Inflammation of Gastric Mucosa. If the condition persists for long, it may lead to ulcers.
- Parinama-sula (Duodenal acid reflux, duodenal ulcer): A condition wherein ulcers (lesions) are formed on the mucous lining of the duodenum (beginning of the small intestine)
- Annadrava-sula: Pain associated with acidity, gastric ulcers (lesions in the mucous lining of the stomach).
Ayurveda ensures safe and effective ways to alleviate symptoms of indigestion and acidity, and prevent complications. Some recommended Ayurvedic preparations are mentioned below:
Positive Lifestyle Changes
- An Ayurvedic formulation of healing ingredients like Trivirt, Bhringaraja, Guduchi and Yashtimadhu, provides quick and effective relief from acidity and gassiness.
- Ingredients such as Sarjikshara, Pudina Satva and Nimbu Satva are also proven to be effective in alleviating acidity symptoms
- Pudina satva is effective for relieving symptoms of stomach ache, gassiness and indigestion.
- Avipattikar Churna provides lasting benefits in treating hyperacidity.
Apart from treatment with Ayurveda, some lifestyle changes can also be of help in relieving symptoms of acidity.
- Eat low-fat, high-protein meals
- Eat less, but more often
- Avoid beverages that cause acidity such as tea, coffee, other caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages and alcohol
- Quit smoking
- While sleeping, rest your head in a slightly raised position to reduce reflux
- Do not go to bed immediately after meals
- Avoid tight fitting clothes. Extra pressure around the abdomen increases acid reflux
- Try to lose weight if obese.
- Low-acidity fruits like apples and bananas
- Vegetables like broccoli, peas, green beans and carrots
- Lean meats
- Fat-free dairy products
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