6 Dangers of Stomach Acid If Left Continuously
Stomach acid is a substance that plays an important role in the digestive process. But if the levels are excessive or too little, stomach acid can cause various health problems.
Indigestion, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloating, are some of the health problems that can arise due to abnormal stomach acid levels. If allowed to drag on without treatment, these conditions can cause serious illness that is potentially life threatening.
What is stomach acid?
Gastric acid plays an important role in the digestive process. Without stomach acid or if the levels in the stomach are low, the body cannot absorb nutrients from food.
Besides playing a role in the digestion process, stomach acid also functions to neutralize enzymes and kill harmful germs that may be present in food.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that stomach acid levels match the body’s needs. If the amount is excessive or too little, various health problems can arise.
Dangers of Stomach Acid if Too Little
When the body does not produce enough stomach acid, or in medical terms called hypochloridia, symptoms that will appear are:
Abdominal pain or heartburn
Nausea and vomiting
The body feels weak
Frequent bowel movements
In addition, the lack of stomach acid in the long run can also cause nutritional problems, such as lack of certain vitamins, minerals, or proteins. This is because the lack of stomach acid causes these nutrients to not be digested properly by the body.
Dangers of Stomach Acid if Too Much
Conversely, if stomach acid levels are too high, there are a variety of disorders that can occur, namely:
Heartburn or heartburn is a painful sensation in the chest and upper abdomen, which will usually feel worse when lying down or bending over. This condition is an impact of stomach acid that rises into the esophagus, and can indicate the presence of gastric ulcer.
If complaints of heartburn only occur occasionally, generally no special handling is needed. However, if heartburn often occurs, feels heavy and spreads to the jaw, neck, or arms, it is needed an examination and treatment from a doctor.
2. GERD or stomach acid disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or fluid and stomach contents go back up into the esophagus, thus irritating the walls of the esophagus.
GERD is characterized by heartburn that appears more than twice a week. The dangers of gastric acid this one can be treated by living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding coffee and alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, and taking stomach acid relievers. In certain cases, GERD needs to be treated with surgery.
3. Tooth decay
Gastric acid or stomach fluid that rises into the esophagus and mouth can erode tooth enamel (the outer layer of teeth). As a result, the teeth become damaged. Without a routine dental check, people usually don’t realize that their teeth are damaged until the damage is already severe.
4. Respiratory problems
Gastric acid can also make asthma or pneumonia worse, causing shortness of breath. This can occur when stomach acid that rises into the esophagus accidentally enters the throat while breathing, and enters the lungs.
5. Inflammation of the esophagus
Gastric acid that rises back into the esophagus (GERD) can cause irritation to the walls of the esophagus. This irritation then triggers inflammation of the esophagus or commonly called esophagitis.
6. Barrett’s esophagus
If left untreated for years, stomach acid that continues to rise into the esophagus has the potential to cause Barrett’s esophagus. The danger of stomach acid on this one is a serious complication of GERD.
In Barrett’s esophagus, damage to the esophagus tissue that connects the mouth to the stomach. This disease has no specific symptoms, and symptoms that appear are usually related or similar to GERD. The main danger from Barrett’s esophagus is the occurrence of esophageal cancer.
To keep your stomach acid levels balanced, make it a habit to eat on a regular schedule. In addition, avoid eating too fast and lie down immediately after eating, so that stomach acid does not rise.
If complaints of digestive disorders related to stomach acid are often felt, or stomach acid disorders cause severe abdominal pain, black stool color, vomiting blood, or difficulty swallowing, immediately consult a doctor to get an examination and treatment.