Low Stomach Acid

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Many people know about excessive stomach acids, and this is one of the most common causes of digestive disorders. But did you also know that low stomach acid can also bring about a lot of health problems? Like any other essential bodily substance, too much or too little of stomach acid can be dangerous to an individual’s health. Since stomach acid is necessary for proper digestion, it is important to keep it at a level where it can still provide its complete functions.

The stomach secretes acids which are composed of hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride. These are important in digesting the food, breaking down the molecules and constituents of all substances that come in the stomach, helping in the assimilation of nutrients and creating waste products which are sent to the intestines to be excreted. Without these acids, it is virtually impossible for an individual to be able to digest properly, and the nutrients from the foods that he ate will not be absorbed by the body. Also, these acids are responsible for killing the bacteria in the food that we eat, preventing the occurrence of bacterial infections. But there are cases when there is not enough amount of stomach acid to properly perform these tasks.

Hypochlorhydria is the condition which refers to the low level of stomach acid, while achlorhydria refers to the condition where there is actually no stomach acid. Both of these conditions can lead to very serious health problems, and they have many similar symptoms that can appear at the instant when food comes into the stomach under such conditions. The symptoms of low or no stomach acid include bacterial or fungal growth, bad breath, belching and burping, bloated feeling, diarrhea, constipation, distension, fatigue, food sensitivity, gassiness, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, malnutrition, stomachaches, unexplainable hunger, vomiting, and weakened hair, nails, and skin.

Some of the causes and risk factors of hypochlorhydria are the long-term use of hyperacidity medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 inhibitors, H. pylori infections, having autoimmune diseases, and undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Individuals who can be affected by the disease are most susceptible at ages 50 and above, but those over 80 have the biggest possibilities to have hypochlorhydria.

When a person’s stomach acid level is lower than normal, this reduces his body’s capability to digest the foods that he eats. This results to the build-up of undigested foods in his intestines, allowing bacteria to grow and infest the digestive tract. When this happens, the bacteria dwell in the body, infecting the intestines and causing great discomfort to the individual. Not only that, malnutrition is also a result of poor food digestion. Since stomach acids are necessary to break down the foods and allow the proper assimilation, distribution, and absorption of the vitamins and minerals from the foods by the body, low stomach acids can cause the impedance of this process. Food remains undigested, the nutrients are not broken down, and the body cannot absorb them properly. No matter how much you eat, if this is the case, you will always be deprived of the nutrition that you need.

Tumors in the digestive tract are also associated with hypohydrochloria, as well as the deterioration of bones due to the lack of calcium absorption. Also, bacteria in the digestive tract can further diminish the amounts of nutrients that a person can get from the foods that he eats because the bacteria consume them instead, making them multiply even faster.

Low stomach acid is a condition that should not be set aside, especially having known the risks and complications that may arise from the condition. That is why if you experience any symptoms that may be associated with the disease, visit your doctor immediately to prevent the development of other undesirable medical conditions.