The silent demon in our Lifestyle

Lifestyle-related hyperacidity is a growing concern among people under 50 according to a recent pharmaceutical report, which has found that 61 per cent of the people in urban India resort rather frequently to popping pills to manage acidity. As the problem compounds among the younger population in urban India, erratic eating habits, junk food, disturbed sleep cycles, and stress have been found to take a toll on one’s digestive system, explained Dr Mohammed Saaduddin Azmi, a senior gastroenterologist.

What is hyperacidity and what causes it?Hyperacidity is a state of extreme imbalance of the gastric system indicated by symptoms like pain, vomiting, bloating, and restlessness. An increasing number of younger individuals are being diagnosed with hyperacidity, and this can be attributed to improper diet, lifestyle, and sleeping habits.

How is hyperacidity different from acidity?Hyperacidity is different from routine acidity in that its symptoms are persistent and severe and cause extreme discomfort to the patient, usually necessitating visits to the doctor and sometimes, even hospitalization. In the elderly, it is likely to be mistaken for cardiac diseases, leading to excessive investigation and stress for the patient. The burning in the chest region coupled with the pain causes severe discomfort and is often mistaken for an impending heart attack.

How does a gastroenterologist usually diagnose hyperacidity?Gastroenterologists usually identify hyperacidity based on the patient’s symptoms, physical examination and sometimes, by performing an endoscopy. Most doctors these days take to endoscopy to ascertain the severity of the problem and prescribe medication accordingly.

Can over-the-counter acidity medication help treat hyperacidity?Hyperacidity often calls for higher doses of medication and sometimes, even intravenous medication. In fact, in many cases, using over-the-counter acidity medication to treat hyperacidity has been shown to exacerbate its symptoms and severity. In such cases, treatment most likely takes longer than usual, and improvement could take a while to show.

Can diet and lifestyle modifications help in treating hyperacidity?Diet and lifestyle modifications play a critical role in the treatment of hyperacidity. In fact, a combined intervention involving a short course of medication along with diet and lifestyle changes has proven most effective in the treatment of hyperacidity. Alkaline foods play a critical role in neutralising the digestive system, thereby facilitating the treatment. However, it may be noted that different foods work differently for different people and therefore, it is essential that individuals make note of the foods that affect their condition negatively.

Can regular exercise and a healthy eating schedule help restore one's digestive system?Regular exercise and a regular eating and sleeping schedule certainly go a long way in the treatment of hyperacidity. However, it is critical that such modifications be maintained in the long run in order to prevent a relapse. We have had many patients who, two to three years after completely recovering, suffered a relapse because they couldn’t keep up with the prescribed routine. It takes discipline to ensure that the issue does not recur.

How does hyperacidity affect the body’s metabolism?It affects one’s metabolism to the extent that even barely spicy food and hot beverages begin to cause extreme acidity in the patient.

Can hyperacidity cause mood swings?Chronic acidity causes food aversion, vomiting, weight loss and, in many cases, mood changes in the form of anxiety and depression. Patients are likely to suffer from low levels of confidence when it comes to food. Once they recover, they have to be coerced into loving their food again.

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