Acidity or heartburn, also known as GERD (Gastro esophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux is a condition where some of the digestive juices including hydrochloric acid, which is normally found in stomach, travels back into the foodpipe i. e esophagus.This means that the juices that normally remain in stomach, move in a reverse direction towards the foodpipe. Stomach has a protective lining and is therefore not affected, but the not the foodpipe and therefore it creates a burning sensation here, sometimes so severe as if you’re having a heart attack.
There can be so many varied reasons for it- heavy meal, very spicy food, lying down immediately after taking a meal, altered schedule of food/sleep, severe anxiety/stress, smoking, etc.
To overcome it, you can take a course of antacids, which are available over the counter too. But many a times, you can manage it at home without any medication by following few simple tips, like-
* Regulate your food habits. Do not overindulge. Eating too much food and too fast, is bound to trigger acidity. Eat slowly, chewing your food properly. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of overeating.
* Avoid greasy, fatty, fried and spicy food.
* Do not lie down immediately after taking your meal; keep a gap of at least 2-3 hours.
* When you finally do lie down, keep the head end of your bed raised by 4-6 inches. You can elevate the head end by placing blocks below the legs of the bed or make use of extra pillows.
* Always maintain and follow a schedule for your meals and sleep.
* Keep your weight under control. Being overweight or obese increases the chances of GERD.
* Restrict caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, cola.
* Avoid tobacco smoke, whether yours or someone else’s, as it relaxes the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus and increases acid production.
* If you are taking any medication, check with your doctor. Sometimes acidity increases because of drugs like antidepressants, sedatives, antibiotics, aspirin, NSAID, etc.
* Do not wear tight belt or clothes.
* Take life easy. Stress definitely increases acid production. Follow some relaxation techniques, perform regular exercise, do meditation, listen to music- anything that calms you down.
* Some foodstuffs that will help curb acidity are- Coconut water, Yoghurt, Butter milk, Banana, Water melon, Cold milk, Icecream. Avoid citrus fruits and their juices like lemon, orange, sweet lime, etc.
The dietary and lifestyle changes are very effective in managing this condition. But if there is no relief even after trying it, consult a doctor. There may be some underlying medical illness like gall stones, ulcer, stomach cancer, heart disease, etc.
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