Learn how to increase stomach acid because hypochlorhydria can be quite irritating and even dangerous if left untreated, so act quickly!
In hypochlorhydria the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach diminishes. Although it seems to be a solution for problems such as gastritis, it is actually a pathological situation. In this article we tell you its causes and how to increase stomach acid to counteract it.
Hypochlorhydria is the decreased production in the human body of the substance known chemically as hydrochloric acid. It is found inside the stomach in a controlled environment.
Hydrochloric acid – HCl according to its chemical symbols – fulfills a series of specific functions in the stomach. These functions are basically protection against external agents and digestion.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid through specialized stomach cells. The acid-producing cells are stimulated by the substance histamine, which in turn is stimulated by the hormone gastrin. Conversely, when the acid is sufficient or excessive, the same stomach indicates to the body that it is no longer stimulated with gastrin.
Under normal conditions, if the self-regulation system works, there will be no gastritis or hypochlorhydria. If the generation of hydrochloric acid decreases well below the desired levels, then there is talk of hypochlorhydria, and even of achlorhydria when no acid is generated.
Among the properties of hydrochloric acid in the stomach you have to:
- Denatures the proteins we eat to be able to process them.
- Participates in the digestive process of carbohydrates.
- Destroy harmful microorganisms that could enter the body with food.
Although it seems a situation without gravity, hypochlorhydria has been associated with stomach cancer. Patients suffering from the disorder for a long time are more prone to this neoplasm.
Causes of hypochlorhydria
There are various causes of hypochlorhydria. Among them, the most important are:
Stress and anxiety: one of the most important causes of hypochlorhydria. In the face of stress, cells can stop producing hydrochloric acid.
Aging: over the years our cells lose function due to the deterioration of age. Among these lost functions is the correct hormonal secretion, gastrin can be affected. Also the hydrochloric acid producing cells age and slow down their metabolism. Estimations are that among those over sixty there is a thirty percent prevalence of hypochlorhydria.
Abusive use of antacids: people suffering from repeated gastritis are at risk of using medications such as ranitidine or omeprazole too much. These drugs block acid production to relieve gastritis symptoms. However, although it is the desired effect, in excessive use it can lead to hypochlorhydria.
Pituitary disorders: when this organ functions improperly, the hormonal communication pathway between gastrin and histamine can be altered.
Hypothyroidism: as a disease that affects many bodily functions, the low presence of thyroid hormones also affects the hormonal axis of gastrin and histamine.
Gastric surgeries: some procedures on the stomach that are invasive have as an adverse effect the alteration in the production of hydrochloric acid. Especially surgeries where part of the organ is resected, subsequently lead to hypochlorhydria.
Symptoms of lack of gastric acid
It is not so easy to determine that there is low production of hydrochloric acid. Hypochlorhydria has symptoms that are similar to other pathologies and confuses its presentation with other conditions.
Upon suspicion, doctors have some diagnostic procedures to rule out other diseases. Anyway, with hypochlorhydria, it is common to suffer:
- Alterations in the digestion of meats: after eating some meat the body does not process it properly or with the speed it should.
- Gases and swelling: the slower digestion due to the deficit of hydrochloric acid produces more intestinal gas.
- Anemias: you absorb less nutrients in hypochlorhydria, including iron and vitamin B12, which can lead to chronic anemia problems that are difficult to control.
- Gastroenteritis: as protection against external microorganisms fails, infectious gastroenteritis appears repeatedly.
- High cholesterol: when the hydrochloric acid is lacking to aid in digestion, the fat absorption process alters, with the consequent possibility that they will trigger in the blood.
- Bacteria in the stomach.
Hypochlorhydria favors the entry of pathogenic microorganisms into the digestive system.
How to increase stomach acid?
To learn how to increase stomach acid, you need to find the cause of hypochlorhydria. There are treatments that can help you if you know the cause.
If the doctor detects a basic pathology that causes hypochlorhydria, such as hypothyroidism, he will focus his treatment on the disease. Once he solves the underlying disorder, the symptoms should disappear.
On the contrary, if hypochlorhydria does not have a clear cause, the doctor will take general measures. These guidelines help the human body to recover adequate production of hydrochloric acid. These measures are:
Chew slowly: the chewing indicates to the body that digestion will begin, so the mechanisms according to it are ready to activate. While chewing the gastrin hormone starts operating, among others.
Hot infusions: the use of hot drinks after lunch or dinner stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid. It is a natural mechanism that you can use. The opposite happens with cold water, because it inhibits the generation of gastric acid.
Natural substances: apple cider vinegar, honey and sea salt are products that help with the stimulation of hydrochloric acid. These are only adjuvants in the framework of other measures that you should take in the case of hypochlorhydria.
The low production of hydrochloric acid can be the trigger for various digestive discomforts. Doctors even associate it with anemia and high cholesterol levels. Therefore, it is appropriate to receive a timely diagnosis and, thus, determine the appropriate treatment according to the cause.
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