Excess stomach acid or hyperacidity is when the volume of stomach acid is higher than normal or the pH is lower than usual resulting in a more acidic gastric secretion. It is also known as hyperchlorhydria. If the stomach and surrounding structures, esophagus and duodenum, are able to cope with the changes in acid secretion, it may pass unnoticed. However, it often results in symptoms that are broadly described as an acidic stomach. This includes a burning chest or abdominal pain, nausea, regurgitation or vomiting and or stomach bloating. These symptoms are seen in conditions like gastritis, peptic ulcer or acid reflux.
Causes of Excess Stomach Acid
The main causes of excess stomach acid include H.pylori infection and the use of NSAIDs. If it is isolated to the stomach and duodenum, it is likely to result in gastritis and a peptic ulcer respectively. When there is a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), then the stomach acid may flow backward up into the esophagus (acid reflux).
The causes of excess stomach acid are discussed further under :
Symptoms of Excess Stomach Acid
The common signs and symptoms of excess stomach acid mentioned above may differ to varying degrees in gastritis, peptic ulcer and acid reflux. These features are discussed further under :
Diet and Remedies for Excess Stomach Acid
Dietary management for regulating stomach acid production may only have a moderate effect. However, diet may assist with reducing the symptoms and preventing the onset of conditions attributed to excess stomach acid. Lifestyle changes may also be useful in the overall conservative management of conditions like gastritis, peptic ulcer and acid reflux.
- Avoid trigger foods and irritants – alcohol, caffeinated drinks, carbonated beverages, preserved and spicy foods are known irritants in most cases.
- Fatty foods are known to increase gastric acid secretion and should therefore be limited.
- ‘Gassy foods’ may cause regurgitation of the acidic stomach contents during burping.
- Gum, tobacco and areca nut/betel leaf chewing should be avoided altogether.
- Eat small meals throughout the day rather than a single large meal.
- Avoid lying flat or sleeping after a meal.
- Moderate activity after eating may help reduce the symptoms associated with excess stomach acid but exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided immediately after a meal.
- Cigarette smoking should be stopped as it increases gastric acid secretion.
Refer to :
Treatment of Excess Stomach Acid
Antacids help to neutralize the stomach acid and are useful for symptomatic relief. Other drugs like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2-blockers may assist with reducing gastric acid secretion. Prokinetic drugs help to speed up gastric emptying and are useful in conditions like acid reflux. These drugs are discussed in detail under :
In cases associated with H.pylori infection, eradication therapy as outlined in H.pylori Gastritis Treatment may be necessary. In addition, cases associated with the use of NSAIDs may require discontinuing the drug or changing to alternative drugs that are less likely to contribute to hyperacidity.
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on December 23, 2010