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Acidity, commonly referred to as acid reflux or heartburn, is a digestive condition characterized by the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. This phenomenon occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, relaxes or weakens, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Here's a detailed overview of acidity, its causes, symptoms, and strategies for management:

1. Causes of Acidity:

a. Diet:

  • Fatty and Spicy Foods: High-fat and spicy foods can relax the LES, promoting acid reflux.
  • Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons, and tomatoes are acidic and may trigger symptoms.

b. Lifestyle Factors:

  • Obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen, leading to acid reflux.
  • Smoking: Tobacco smoke can weaken the LES.

c. Medical Conditions:

  • Hiatal Hernia: A condition where a portion of the stomach protrudes into the diaphragm, affecting the LES.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy can contribute to acidity.

d. Medications:

  • Certain Drugs: Some medications, including aspirin, certain muscle relaxers, and blood pressure medications, may contribute to acid reflux.

2. Symptoms of Acidity:

a. Heartburn:

  • Burning Sensation: A burning sensation in the chest, usually after eating.

b. Regurgitation:

  • Sour Taste: The regurgitation of stomach acid may lead to a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.

c. Chest Pain:

  • Discomfort: Some individuals may experience chest pain or discomfort resembling heart-related issues.

d. Difficulty Swallowing:

  • Feeling of a Lump: A sensation of a lump in the throat or difficulty swallowing.

e. Belching and Bloating:

  • Excessive Belching: Burping more frequently than usual.
  • Abdominal Bloating: Swelling or discomfort in the abdomen.

f. Nausea:

  • Feeling Queasy: Nausea or an unsettled stomach may accompany acidity.

3. Management and Prevention:

a. Dietary Changes:

  • Avoid Trigger Foods: Identify and avoid foods that trigger acidity, such as spicy, fatty, or acidic items.
  • Small, Frequent Meals: Opt for smaller, more frequent meals rather than large, heavy ones.

b. Lifestyle Adjustments:

  • Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the abdomen.
  • Elevate Head While Sleeping: Use pillows to elevate the head while sleeping to minimize acid reflux.

c. Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol:

  • Quit Smoking: Smoking weakens the LES and contributes to acidity.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate acid reflux.

d. Medications:

  • Antacids: Over-the-counter antacids can provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
  • H2 Blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Prescription medications that reduce acid production.

e. Stress Management:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Stress can worsen acidity, so practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, may help.

f. Regular Exercise:

  • Moderate Exercise: Engaging in regular, moderate exercise can aid digestion and help manage weight.

4. When to Seek Medical Attention:

While occasional acidity is common, persistent or severe symptoms may require medical evaluation. Consult a healthcare professional if experiencing:

  • Frequent or chronic heartburn.
  • Difficulty swallowing or pain upon swallowing.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting.

5. Conclusion:

Acidity is a common digestive issue that can often be managed through lifestyle modifications, dietary adjustments, and over-the-counter medications. However, persistent or severe symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to rule out underlying conditions and determine the most appropriate course of action. Proactive management and a focus on preventive measures contribute to overall digestive health.

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