Issues with Stomach Acid: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
When it comes to issues with stomach acid, symptoms can show up everywhere from your mouth to your intestines. There are a lot of factors that can impact the production of acid as well as the pH levels in the stomach. In some cases the problem is simple, such as eating a certain type of food that increases acid production; but other times stomach acid symptoms can be linked to an underlying issue, such as an ulcer or low pressure in the esophageal sphincter. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for issues with stomach acid.
Stomach Acid Symptoms
In this section, we’re going to talk about the symptoms that can arise when there is an issue with stomach acid. One of the main symptoms that most of us have experience with is heartburn. Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a condition in which a burning sensation occurs near the stomach and up the throat. The sensation can make the chest feel cool, tight, and generally uncomfortable. The impulse to cough, hoarseness of the throat, a foul taste in the mouth, nausea, the urge to vomit, tightness of the throat, the sensation of having a lump in the throat, and difficulty taking deep breaths are also common stomach acid symptoms.
Few people realize the long term effects that can be caused by stomach acid. For instance, frequent regurgitation of acid (or reflux) can cause the tissues of the throat to become severely damaged, resulting in chronic throat pain, hoarseness, diminished vocal volume, and changes in the overall sound and tone of one’s voice. The same condition can also lead to erosion of tooth enamel and the development of sores in the mouth. Excessive amounts of stomach acid can also wear down the protective lining of the stomach and cause open sores, called ulcers, to form. If there isn’t a sufficient level of acid in the stomach then food may not be digested properly—a condition known as gastroparesis. With gastroparesis, the undigested food simply sits in the stomach and, over time, causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, undigested food in the stool, and even infection.
Causes of Stomach Acid Symptoms
Stomach acid symptoms can pop up for a number of reasons, and some of us are more susceptible or sensitive than others when it comes to the common triggers of stomach acid issues. You are probably well aware that spicy and fatty foods as well as caffeinated and/or carbonated drinks can trigger a nasty case of acid reflux, but did you know that the foods that you eat aren’t the only cause behind this all-too-common condition? Being overweight can cause chronic heartburn simply because the stomach is subjected to excessive pressure. A similar effect can also be caused during pregnancy. As the fetus grows inside mom-to-be’s womb, the surrounding organs are pushed around. This causes a drastic loss of space for the stomach to expand after food or beverages are consumed which often results in acid reflux.
Other factors can contribute to stomach acid symptoms by causing too much acid to be released into the stomach. Hormonal changes, medication, high stress levels, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol can also cause a change in the amount of acid that is released into the stomach. Food allergies, especially where milk is concerned, can also cause an imbalance in the stomach’s pH levels.
If your body were to produce excess acid to compensate for a diet lacking natural enzyme-rich foods, then eventually your body’s ability to produce acid will suffer and you may find that your body suddenly can’t produce enough acid to digest food. Logically speaking, every process in your body can eventually give out due to overuse, and the production of stomach acid is no exception. Removal of one’s gallbladder, the organ responsible for concentrating and releasing bile into the stomach, is another cause behind low acid production in the stomach.
In order to treat stomach acid symptoms, you first have to figure out the cause behind your suffering, e.g. heartburn, obesity, medication, or gastroparesis. Heartburn or excessive production of stomach acid can usually be managed with over the counter antacid products, but these will only work to temporarily neutralize the acid and relieve symptoms. If heartburn recurs on a regular basis or if you suffer from a condition in which your body releases too much acid, you might want to consider asking your doctor about proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication. This type of medication works by preventing the release of stomach acid.
Obesity and/or a diet high in fatty foods should be rectified in order to prevent acid reflux. Eating fewer high-fat foods and eating more well-cooked fruits and vegetables can have a very positive impact on heartburn. Also, adopting a regular exercise routine can also help to get rid of excess fat and encourage the digestive system to be more productive and efficient.
If your body doesn’t produce enough stomach acid, then there are a few ways that you can reduce the symptoms of this condition. First, you might consider making yourself a cocktail consisting of one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with one glass of water. Vinegar is acidic and can help break down foods in the stomach. Just drink the mixture about half an hour before you eat. Digestive enzyme supplements that contain Betaine HCL as well as probiotic supplements can also help aid the overall digestive process.
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