Is Acidity Killing You?

Is acidity killing you?

Many of you reading this with interest have been, admit it now, popping your Pan 40s, Rantacs and Gelusils over years and years. If these didn’t exist, you have no doubt you would be in a condition worse than mere death, right? After all, who would wish the sharp and sour taste of acid in the throat and mouth, with an intense, unpleasant burning near the heart, something that cold water would merely relieve for seconds? Today, let’s discuss this very banal and surprisingly important issue. So important that your life could depend on it, and (logically following the above) reading this article could change it. Yes, your life. Forget everything you have heard and read about acidity.

Acidity means whatever is in your stomach (and that includes partly digested food mixed with hydrochloric acid, the stuff used in toilet cleaners) goes up into your food pipe (esophagus). The food pipe is not capacitized to handle acid, so gets inflamed. This leads to symptoms. Excess acidity is seen in (among others) :

  • Obese people
  • People with a condition called hiatus hernia
  • Pregnant women
  • People who overeat
  • Smokers
  • Alcohol abuse

What’s the problem with acid reflux?

One, it worsens your quality of life. Two, you have to keep taking treatment, which may have its own costs and complications. Finally, long-standing acid reflux may cause bad changes in the food pipe (called Barrett’s disease) and even cancer. Ok, you get it now, acidity is not as harmless as you thought. You are a victim. What to do now? Here is a brief guideline:

  • Go to your doctor and ask him to get this evaluated.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Stop drinking till your problem is sorted out.
  • Don’t overeat, especially on your spicy, gravy-ish, fried foods (luchis, biryani, chaaps, jilipis, etc).
  • Don’t go to sleep soon after dinner.
  • Rule out gallstone disease by doing an ultrasound. Some people may need to rule out heart problems, but this is all doctor territory, so be careful.
  • Lose weight!

Ok, so you have done all you could, but you need serious help. What would I do, if I saw you?

If you have a hiatus hernia that is severe, I would offer a lap surgery that will fix this in half an hour or so (it’s called fundoplication).

I would consider a surgery called gastric bypass that would cure you of acidity as well as make you thinner. If you have diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, arthritis and snoring (all related lifestyle disorders), it is likely that the surgery will give you permanent relief from all. This will radically change your life, not only improving the quality of your life but also giving you freedom from various complications that cluster together in the same patient (this is you!). Regulating eating, drinking and other bad habits like smoking becomes non-negotiable at a point in time. It is my job as a doctor to explain this to the patient and help him/her change course. This is often an underestimated part of a doctor’s job as a source of positive influence in your life. If all this makes sense to you, initiate these changes at once. If you need help, ask for it before it is too late!