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the anatomical causes behind heartburn and Acid Reflux

Many people don’t know that acid exists in the human body and the food we eat solely depends on the acid for effective digestion in the stomach. The stomach has parietal cells that produce hydrochloric acid within its walls. Changing the level of stomach alkalinity or acidity has a range of complexities related to it, and this can be justified by ultimate real-life experiences from patients who have experienced the situation.

This acid helps neutralize harmful organisms that may be contained in the food we take. This makes it easier for other digestive juices in other parts of the stomach (Hatlebakk et al., 2016).  Hydrochloric acid helps break down food substances for the body to utilize them fully. One may, however, ask why the acid does not burn our stomach but the answer is because the stomach walls have linings of alkaline mucus which protects it from hydrochloric acid. Despite this, there are times when the acid level in the stomach goes higher than average, which means the Ph level goes below normal. The low acid level in the stomach is associated with heartburn and acid reflux (Zhang et al., 2015). The low acid in the stomach makes food take much longer to digest, which may force it back to one’s esophageal sphincter.  This creates a burning sensation, which is almost the same as acid reflux. When such an occurrence occurs, it is advisable that we take proton pump inhibitors since they reduce the levels of acid in the stomach, which causes the sensation we feel when food returns to the esophagus.

On the other hand, raising acid levels, especially beyond the limit may also cause complexity when the acid level goes lower than normal (Hatlebakk et al., 2016). Neutralization of stomach acid especially when it goes beyond the required level leads to a vicious cycle of associated digestive problems. The problems may include vitamin and mineral malabsorption, digestion, and food allergies. The term hypochlorhydria is used to describe low levels of stomach acid. In normal circumstances, low level of acids in the stomach is caused by a lack of a balanced diet, infections especially bacterial ones, stress, proton pump inhibitors, which are used to reduce acidity levels, and abuse of antacids (Savarino et al., 2016).  Most people associate heartburn with high levels of acid in the stomach.

Contrary to their opinion, it is the opposite, which is true. Heartburn is usually associated with low levels of acid in the stomach. Heartburn is the burning sensation felt in the chest especially when acid is regurgitated back to the esophagus. It is a problem associated with low levels of acid in the stomach (Savarino et al., 2016).  It is caused by acid reflux in that acid reflux is responsible for ensuring that after the food passes to the stomach, the sphincter muscles of the esophagus are tightened to ensure that nothing passes back. The problem comes when the sphincter muscles are weakened and allow acid from the stomach to pass back to the esophagus. It is therefore advisable to see a doctor whenever you experience heartburn since it may be caused by hypochlorhydria which as defined earlier is a lack of enough acid in the stomach or hyperchlorhydria which is defined as the presence of excess acid in the stomach, which is low stomach acid.

In conclusion, you should see a medical practitioner for assistance whenever you feel heartburn, since self-treatment may make things worse (Zhang et al., 2015). You may decide to take a certain medicine to get yourself, but in the end, you end up messing up the situation and getting even more complicated. If it is self-treatment then better be in a position to determine if it is low acid level or high since both to some extent exhibit the same signs.


Hatlebakk, J. G., Zerbib, F., des Varannes, S. B., Attwood, S. E., Ell, C., Fiocca, R., … & Lundell, L. R. (2016). Gastroesophageal acid reflux control five years after antireflux surgery, compared with long-term esomeprazole therapy. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology14(5), 678-685.

Savarino, E., Marabotto, E., Furnari, M., Zentilin, P., De Bortoli, N., Marchi, S., … & Savarino, V. (2016). OC. 07.1 REFRACTORY PATIENTS WITH NON-ACID REFLUX DISEASE AND THOSE WITH EROSIVE AND NON-EROSIVE REFLUX DISEASE HAVE SIMILAR RESPONSE TO ANTI-REFLUX SURGICAL THERAPY. Digestive and Liver Disease48, e95.

Zhang, N., Ma, L., Sun, X., Yang, B., Wang, X., Clarke, J. O., … & Chen, J. (2015). Mo1125 Quantitative Assessment of Acid Reflux and Its Clinical Significance. Gastroenterology148(4), S-613.



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