Acid reflux is a medical condition that leads to an increase in the acidity of the
esophagus and throat. Acidity occurs when your stomach produces too much acid, causing a burning sensation in the stomach, chest, and neck called heartburn. Acids along with food are thrown into the esophagus in gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Fatty and spicy foods and the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria are the main causes of this condition. Chronic acidity can cause esophageal cancer. Acidity can be treated to some extent with these five home remedies which are listed below.
Acidity is caused by acid reflux.
When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of the esophagus
(lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and fluids to flow into your stomach. Then, the sphincter closes again.
If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus. This constant washing of acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, often causing inflammation.
Risk factors for acid reflux
Conditions that can increase your risk for GERD include:
- Swelling of the upper stomach in the diaphragm (hiatus hernia)
- Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
- Delayed stomach emptying
Factors that can make acid reflux worse include:
- To smoke
- Eat large meals or eat late at night
- Eat certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods
- Drink certain drinks, such as alcohol or coffee
- Take certain medications, such as aspirin
Common signs and symptoms of acid reflux include:
- A burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which may get worse at night
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or acidic liquid
- A feeling of a lump in the throat
If you suffer from nocturnal acidity, you may also experience:
- Chronic cough
- New or worsening asthma
- Disturbed sleep
Pharmaceutical treatment for acid reflux
The most common pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for acid reflux are:
Although generally well-tolerated, these drugs can cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, and vitamin B-12 deficiency.
That’s why FDA requires the following precautions if you take one of these drugs:
- It is important that the doctor checks the patient’s or child’s progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to check that the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue using it. Blood, urine, and other laboratory tests may be needed to check for adverse effects. If your or your child’s condition does not improve or if it worsens, see your doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you have Asian relatives, such as Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, or Taiwanese. For the treatment of erosive esophagitis, the dose of this medicine may need to be reduced.
- Do not use omeprazole if you are taking medicines containing rilpivirine (Edurant®, Complera®). Concomitant use of these drugs can cause unwanted side effects.
- This medication is sometimes given along with other medications to treat ulcers. Make sure you understand the risks and the correct use of any other medications your doctor is giving you or your child along with omeprazole.
- Omeprazole used in patients with medical conditions treated with antibiotics can cause a severe allergic reaction. Call your doctor right away if you or your child experiences itching, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or any swelling of the hands, face, or mouth.
- Consult your doctor immediately if you or your child have had a change in urine frequency or amount of urine, blood in the urine, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, skin rash, swelling of the body, feet, or ankles, unusual tiredness or weakness, or unusual growth weight after taking this medicine. These could be symptoms of a serious kidney disease called acute tubulointerstitial nephritis.
- Consumption of this medication for a long time may decrease the absorption of vitamin B12 by your body. Let your doctor know if you have concerns about vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Serious stomach problems can occur when taking this medicine alone or with antibiotics. Check with your doctor immediately if you or your child has stomach cramps, a bloated feeling, watery, severe diarrhea that can also be bloody, fever, nausea or vomiting, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
- This medication can increase the risk of fractures in the hip, wrist, and spine. This is more likely if you are 50 years of age or older, if you receive high doses of this medicine, or if you use it for a year or more.
- This medicine can cause hypomagnesemia (low magnesium content in the blood). This is more likely to happen if you have been taking this medicine for more than 1 year, or if you are taking this medicine together with digoxin (Lanoxin®) or certain diuretics or “water pills”. Check with your doctor immediately if you have seizures (attacks), a fast, fast, or irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms (tetany), tremors or tiredness, or unusual weakness.
- Cutaneous or systemic lupus erythematosus can occur or worsen in patients receiving PPIs. Call your doctor right away if you have joint pain or a rash on your cheeks or arms that gets worse with sun exposure.
- This drug may increase the risk of fundus polyps (abnormal tissue growth in the upper stomach). This is more likely if you have been taking this medicine for more than 1 year. If you have any problems, consult your doctor.
- Do not stop taking this drug without first talking to your doctor or unless directed by your doctor.
- Inform your physician or dentist that you are taking these medicines. You may need to stop using this drug a few days before your medical tests.
- Do not take other medications that have not been approved by your doctor. This includes prescription (eg, Atazanavir, nelfinavir, Reyataz®, Viracept®) or over-the-counter (OTC _0_) drugs, as well as herbal supplements (eg, St. John’s Wort) or vitamins.
Home remedies for acidity
- Baking soda
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is used in homes as a remedy for acute acid reflux. It is alkaline in nature and neutralizes acids when mixed with water, but it is a short term remedy. Patients with chronic cases of excessive acidity should consult a gastroenterologist. Baking soda is also high in salts, so it is not ideal for people with high blood pressure.
In Ayurvedic medicine, cumin or Jeera mixed with water can help reduce acidity and bloating. Cumin is alkaline in nature and therefore neutralizes acids, just like baking powder. It also helps relieve indigestion and is effective in helping manage high blood pressure. Studies have shown that black cumin extracts can help heal gastric ulcers.
Ginger, like cumin, is alkaline and helps reduce acidity. Acid reflux causes a condition called esophagitis, or inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat gastric ulcers.
Studies have shown that Tulsi, also known as holy basil, has healing properties that can help treat stomach ulcers. Consumption of Tulsi also leads to increased secretion of cellular mucus, which protects the linings of the stomach and esophagus from ulcerative lesions. Tulsi also contains anti-inflammatory properties like ginger.
Turmeric contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the stomach from excessive acid secretions. Curcumin is also an antioxidant and is effective in treating gastric ulcers.
Home remedies for acid reflux are effective and, in many cases, may substitute pharmaceutical drugs. Some naturopathic, holistic techniques can also be used for the healing of acid reflux.