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Acidity: Are you suffering from it?
Kanchan Maslekar
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August 06, 2008

If you think acidity is associated with grey hair, retirement and wrinkles, here's news -- acidity can affect those with streaked hair and the hip and the happening as well.

It seems like a simple problem when it begins, but it can easily get out of hand, whether you're old or young.

Shridhar Loni, a journalist working with a Pune based daily newspaper, will vouch for that. He lost 10 kgs and was vomiting blood before he realised the gravity of the problem and rushed to the doctor.

The doctor diagnosed him with acidity. "What started off as the occasional headache, nausea and stomach aches resulted in a chronic headache, vomiting, lack of concentration and rapid weight loss. I had to opt for one month of leave to get back to normalcy," recollects Shridhar.

Irregular eating patterns and anxiety were what caused the acidity. Shridhar suffered from the attack for almost a year, but never thought acidity was "so problematic". "Acidity was always my grandmother's health concern. Certainly not mine!" he laughs.

"I use to stay in a hostel, had oily fried food everyday. The competition of hits and misses and deadline pressure at work added to the problem,' he says.

Twelve hours in front of the computer every day and love of junk food resulted in the same problem for Manish Arora, 25 project engineer in an IT firm.

Admitting that he gorges on fried food and tends to overeat at times, Manish noted that "Acidity normally hits you at night, with excess gas formation in the tummy."

Like Shridhar and Manish more and more young professionals with irregular eating habits, long gaps between two meals, strain and stress are victims of acidity.

Dr Deepa Bhise, a practicing physician in Pune explains,"The stomach normally secretes acid that is essential in the digestive process. This acid helps in breaking down the food during digestion. When there is excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach, it results in the condition known as acidity."

"Acidity tends to have a much higher incidence in highly emotional and nervous individuals," she adds.

Acidity is responsible for symptoms like dyspepsia, heartburn and even the formation of ulcers.

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For some like Shridhar, nausea and a splitting headache wherein he was unable to concentrate or eat of work are the syptoms, whereas for Manish there was a heartburn and severe ache in the upper abdomen.

Says Dr Manasi Joshi, who runs Anandi Clinic in Pune, "The most common symptom is dyspepsia, a burning or aching pain in the upper abdomen. Heartburn is characterised by a deeply placed, burning pain in the chest and it occurs after meals."

At times there is no pain at all, just a feeling of indigestion or nausea. There is no urge to eat and even smells of eatables can be nausea tic for some.

For those suffering from acidity, doctors first try and identify the causative factors.

"We first check the history of family members with ulcers and advise the patient to stop consumption of alcohol and smoking," says Dr Joshi.

In addition to this, stress assessments and analyses are very useful in determining the cause of the condition. A healthy and controlled diet must be strictly followed, avoiding spicy, salty and acidic foods.

Dr Joshi advices those involved in high-stress jobs to take up meditation or a hobby and take breaks from the office. "Though its easier said than done, I tell my patients to relax and pretend nothing is wrong with them," he adds.

Dr Bhise advises, "Eat only when hungry, because digestive juices are released in the stomach only when one is hungry. Otherwise, undigested food in the stomach leads to fermentation."

Though antacids provide immediate relief from symptoms by neutralising the excess acid secreted, what is actually needed is a deliberate effort to modify the lifestyle, to keep acidity in check.

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