You like your coffee strong, but you’ve had to give it up because it triggers your acidity and gives you nasty acid burps for hours on end! Yes, it’s scientifically proven that certain foods like coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, and spicy foods can trigger acid reflux and indigestion. However, food is not the only culprit here, there are several other causes of acidity that don’t receive as much attention but can trigger acidity attacks.
Less Known Causes Of Acidity
“People from urban India are at a higher risk of acidity as compared to those in rural areas”
Acidity or acid reflux is a very common problem, but if it is neglected, it can cause GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is a chronic and more severe form of acidity. We do not have data on the prevalence of GERD across the country, although the few studies that we do have suggest that the prevalence of GERD in India is approximately 22% and that people from urban India are at a higher risk of acidity as compared to those in rural areas. Here are some of the causes of acidity that we ignore all too often.
Weak Sphincter Muscles
“Weak sphincter muscles allow stomach acids to come back up into the throat which causes acidity”
There is a ring of muscle tissue at the end of the esophagus, where it connects to the stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter. As long as this sphincter remains closed, acids from the stomach cannot travel back up the esophagus.
However, if this muscle ring weakens and loses muscle tone, it cannot close completely and acid starts to move back up into the esophagus which results in acidity. If your doctor suspects weak sphincter muscles, he might recommend a barium swallow test to check the functioning of the esophagus and sphincter.
“Problems with the esophagus are not uncommon and can cause heartburn and acidity”
If your esophagus reacts very sensitively or if it does not move stomach acids back down into the stomach quickly enough you will experience heartburn and acidity. Esophagus problems generally present as problems with swallowing and a persistent feeling of having something lodged in your throat.
“A hiatal hernia causes a small portion of the stomach to enter the esophagus, which prevents the esophageal sphincter from closing & results in acidity”
We often associate hernia with the groin, but in fact there are several types of hernia including the hiatal hernia. If you have a hiatal hernia, a small portion of the stomach enters the esophagus and prevents the esophageal sphincter from closing which results in acidity. Your doctor may recommend an endoscopic examination, which is a visual examination of the esophagus to confirm the diagnosis.
“Over 40% of women in their second trimester and over 50% of women in their third trimester experience acidity”
Acidity and heartburn are common problems in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. According to researchers, over 40% of women in their second trimester and over 50% of women in their third trimester experience acidity. Once you move into your second trimester of pregnancy, you will need to be extra careful about your diet and avoid all foods that cause acidity. However, this type of acidity is temporary and will disappear once your baby is born.
“Smoking increases the risk of acidity as it decreases the pressure of the esophageal sphincter and allows stomach acids to splash back up into the esophagus”
Researchers do not fully understand why smoking causes acidity, but studies show that there is a definite link between the two. Some research indicates that the pressure of the esophageal sphincter is far lower in smokers as compared to non-smokers, which is why stomach acids splash back up into the esophagus.
“Obese people are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from acidity & esophageal problems as compared to people with healthy bodyweight”
Being overweight or obese will increase your risk of acidity and GERD. Studies show that obese people are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from acidity and esophageal problems as compared to people with healthy bodyweight. The good news is that if you are overweight and suffer from acidity, you can shed a few extra kilos and experience a reduction in your acidity symptoms. Just one more reason to get on that weight loss diet!
You now know the non-dietary causes for acidity, so make changes in your lifestyle to resolve the problem; while you’re at it makes changes in your diet too! When it comes to acidity and food, it’s not just about what you eat, but also about when you eat and how much. Even if you don’t eat foods that cause acidity, you might still find yourself in a world of trouble if you habitually overeat or if you stay hungry for hours on end during the day.
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