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What is acidity during pregnancy?

Acidity is a common complaint in pregnancy. Also known as heartburn, acidity is characterised by the presence of a burning sensation in the centre of the chest, right above the stomach. While acidity during pregnancy is perceived as harmless and common, it can be quite uncomfortable.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms? 

Acidity presents as a burning sensation, which extends from the lower portion of the throat to the bottom of the breastbone. It is more common during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Acidity or heartburn is basically reflux of the stomach contents into the food pipe. Symptoms like sour burping, nausea, and a sour taste in the mouth might be experienced along with acidity. 

What are the main causes? 

Acidity during pregnancy mainly occurs due to hormonal changes. Episodes of heartburn are frequent during pregnancy due to the hormone called progesterone, which affects the muscles of the digestive system, relaxes the lower valve of the food pipe that prevents food regurgitation) and may also alter tolerance to certain foods.

In addition, the expanding uterus crowds the abdomen and can push the stomach contents upwards, resulting in acidity and a burning sensation.

How is it diagnosed and treated? 

Acidity during pregnancy is generally diagnosed based on the symptoms. If the episodes are too frequent, the doctor may prescribe an antacid.

Since acidity during pregnancy is very commonly reported and not usually an alarming situation, it can be managed with simple home remedies. These home remedies include:

  • Ginger tea (to be used in moderation only).
  • Plain water.
  • Plain buttermilk.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Cold milk.
  • Coconut water.

There are several preventive steps, which can be very helpful in reducing acidity episodes: 

  • Drink lots of water and fluids all day.
  • Avoid spicy and oily foods, alcohol, citrus fruits and coffee. These can trigger acidity or worsen it.
  • Avoid ready-to-eat meals and other processed foods with high levels of salt or oil.
  • Eat small and frequent meals. Chew your food properly before swallowing it.
  • Avoid staying hungry for too long.
  • Do not drink large quantities of fluids during meals. Avoid carbonated water or soda.
  • Avoid lying down immediately after eating food.
  • Keep your upper body elevated using pillows to prevent the stomach acid from entering the food pipe.
  1. Medicines for Acidity during pregnancy

References

  1. American pregnancy association. Pregnancy And Heartburn. Skyway Circle ,Irving, TX
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy
  3. Health Link. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) During Pregnancy. British Columbia. [internet].
  4. Vazquez JC. Heartburn in pregnancy. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Sep 8;2015:1411. PMID: 2634864
  5. Office on women's health [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Body changes and discomforts

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