Many of us complain of a burning sensation in the chest region after consuming a heavy meal. We term it as acidity and quickly administer an antacid. The antacid may provide temporary relief but does it resolve the condition completely?
Basically the reflux of acid from the stomach back into the esophagus results in the burning sensation. The reason for this reflux needs to be clearly understood.
Acid is secreted in the presence of food in the stomach as a normal physiological response. However, when the stomach is empty (not eaten for a long time) then the acid produced will cause irritation in the stomach lining which can be termed as ‘acidity’.
Whereas, when we consume spicy, fatty, heavy meals there may not be sufficient acid secreted to digest it. This acid plays a role in strengthening the LES which is a valve that opens from the esophagus into the stomach. The reduced LES tension due to low acid causes it to remain open thereby leading to regurgitation of stomach contents into esophagus which is usually not exposed to acidic environment resulting in ‘heartburn’.
Both acidity and heartburn being symptoms of acid burn either in stomach or esophagus are often used interchangeably. But it is important to distinguish between the two since one condition results from excess acid and the other due to lack of it, hence requiring completely different managerial approach.
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Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.