Hyperacidity is a symptom rather than a disease. It is, defined as excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which causes an irritating burning sensation in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Normally the stomach produces numerous juices that are necessary for digestion. Hydrochloric acid is one of them required to break down complex food and kill harmful microorganisms. Foods that are not properly mixed in the stomach have a tendency to slow down the digestive process. This causes the stomach to supply more digestive juice, including hydrochloric acid. This disproportionate secretion of the acid dominates the defenses and, as a result, leads to a decline in the protective force of the mucosal layer of the stomach.
Hyperacidity eventually damages the inner lining of the stomach and leads to what is medically known as gastritis, the formation of ulcers in the stomach and later perforation. This condition has become widespread with today’s stressful and modernized life and is more commonly seen in middle aged and elderly people.
CAUSES OF HYPERACIDITY
- Stress & Anxiety
- Negative emotions – Eating while angry or upset can produce gastric hyperacidity.
- Irregular dietary habits
- Rich, spicy and fried foods, badly cooked food, cold food
- Fast foods, red meat, onions and garlic
- Loss of appetite or overeating, or eating too fast without proper chewing
- Insomnia (lack of sleep).
- Prolonged intake of aspirin, steroids or some other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Caffeinated drinks
- Alcohol abuse and heavy smoking
- Is also commonly encountered in pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes and pressure of the uterus on the stomach
- Infection of the stomach from bacteria known as helicobacter pylori is also a common cause of hyperacidity
SYMPTOMS OF HYPERACIDITY
- Sour belching
- Stomach cramps immediately following a large or spicy meal or aspirin ingestion.
- Nausea & vomiting.
- Bitter or sour taste in mouth.
- A sense of abdominal distension or bloating.
- Vomiting of blood or blood in stools.
CLASSIFICATION OF HYPERACIDITY
A. PRIMARY HYPERACIDITY
Common Causes of Hyperacidity
Prolonged ingestion of aspirin or some anti-inflammatory drugs
Prolonged alcohol ingestion
Eating of spicy and highly seasoned food like chili, pickles, etc.
Stress is also an important cause of hyperacidity
Hyperacidity also occurs after surgery or burns or with severe bacterial infection
Common Symptoms of Hyperacidity
A steady pain of short duration in upper abdomen immediately following a large or spicy meal or aspirin ingestion.
Nausea, vomiting, and loss of desire to eat, which may persist for 1-2 days
Heartburn or sour belching
Early repletion or satiety after meals
A sense of abdominal distension or bloating
Flatulence (burping, belching)
Vomiting of blood or blood in stools
If gastritis persists, there may be eventual development of anemia
Long-standing hyperacidity may lead to formation of ulcers in the stomach, which may again lead to complications like perforation.
I. REFLUX OESOPHAGITIS
The disorder may be defined as damage to the esophageal mucosa due to reflux of gastric contents.
Etiology: Increased reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus from reduced pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter and a frequency of transient relaxation of the sphincter, are the main factors in the development of reflux esophagitis.
Clinical Features / Symptoms:
Heartburn: This is a sensation of burning or burning pain located high in the epigastria or behind the lower end of the sternum, often radiating upwards behind the sternum. It occurs after meals and is characteristically brought on by lifting or straining due to an increase in the abdominal pressure. Heartburn may also occur while lying down in bed at night, preventing sleep or awakening the patient several hours after the onset of sleep.
It is sometimes precipitated immediately by acidic food or drink – tomatoes, oranges, cola and alcohol.
Painful Dysphagia: The usual cause is a mass of food passing through an inflamed segment of esophagus.
Regurgitation of gastric contents into the mouth may occur during bending, after a large meal or at night. The patient becomes aware of the regurgitation because of a bitter taste in the mouth.
Sore throat, Globus sensation (‘lump in throat’), and hoarseness are other consequences.
- PEPTIC ULCER
The term ‘peptic ulcer’ refers to an ulcer in the lower esophagus, stomach, or duodenum.
Etiology: The following factors play a role:
Duodenogastric reflux of bile.
Pathology: An ulcer forms when there is an imbalance between aggressive forces, such as, the digestive power of acid and pepsin, and defensive factors, such as the ability of the gastric and duodenal mucosa to resist this digestive power. However in the majority of patients, acid secretion is within normal limits or is moderately raised. In these individuals, damage to the gastric mucosal barrier is necessary to facilitate the damaging effect of acid and pepsin. The initial damage results from Helicobacter pylori, NSAID’s, and smoking.
Clinical Features / Symptoms:
Epigastric pain: Pain is referred to the epigastrium and is often so sharply localized that the patient can indicate its site with two or three fingers-the ‘pointing sign’.
Hunger pain: Pain occurs intermittently during the day, often when the stomach is empty, so that the patient identifies it as ‘hunger pain’ and obtains relief by eating.
Night pain: Pain wakes the patient from sleep and may be relieved by food, a drink of milk, or antacids. This symptom, when present, is virtually pathognomonic for an ulcer.
Water brash: This is a sudden filling of the mouth with saliva, which is produced as a reflex response to a variety of symptoms from the upper GIT, for example, peptic ulcer pain, Heartburn, Loss of appetite, Vomiting
Based on the above symptoms commonly found in the patients complaining of ‘acidity’, the following homoeopathic medicines can be used in such patients: