Hydrochloric Acid & The Human Body - The Relation Is Imperative

The human body is capable of producing acids in the stomach. One such acid is hydrochloric acid, the deficiency of which causes a condition called hypochlorhydria. 

The secretions present in the stomach are primarily composed of hydrochloric acid, numerous enzymes, and mucus that protects the lining of the stomach. From the acidic point of contact, hydrochloric acid helps in digestion, breaking down the food, and absorb proteins minerals and vitamins.

Food contains bacteria and hydrochloric acid helps in eliminating the viruses and infections thereby protecting the body from diseases. Low levels of hydrochloric acid can put a serious impact on the body and also hinder the absorption of food and nutrients if not treated in the correct time.

Hypochlorhydria can lead to gastrointestinal disorders chronic health issues and a number of other infections. 

Symptoms Of Hypochlorhydria

As hydrochloric acid is the primary agent helping in digestion of food, symptoms of low acid in the stomach can lead to an increased susceptibility towards infection and less absorption of nutrients from the food . It includes iron deficiency leading to 

  • anemia
  • gas
  • hair loss 
  • bloating 
  • stomach upset 
  • nausea 
  • weak fingernails and undigested food 
  • neurological issues such as vision changes 
  • tingling sensation on the skin and numbness

Not only are there health abnormalities, but a lot of chronic health conditions are associated with low levels of hydrochloric acid in the body. This can include conditions such as gastritis, lupus, allergies, thyroid issues, chronic autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, eczema, pernicious anemia, osteoporosis, and acne. 

Causes Of Hypochlorhydria

The most common causes of low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and include:

  • Surgery that include a Gastric Bypass surgery can reduce the production of stomach acid 
  • Hypochlorhydria is more commonly found in older people, who are more than 55 - 60 years are likely to have low levels of hydrochloric acid 
  • Antacids that are prescribed to treat acid reflux such as PPI results in hypochloremia antacids lower the levels of stomach acid, therefore, it is best to consult a doctor before making any change in the medications that you take 
  • a vitamin deficiency of vitamin b complex nutrients and zinc also produces low levels of hydrochloric acid in the body 
  • these are a result of inadequate dietary intake nutrient loss and also accept smoking and alcohol consumption

Risk Factors Of Hypochlorhydria

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  • A person over the age of 55 years old with high levels of chronic stress
  • any ongoing medication that reduces stomach acid 
  • vitamin deficiency 
  • stomach infection caused by H pylori 
  •  a previous history of stomach surgery responsible for causing low levels of hydrochloric acid in the body. 

Importance Of Hydrochloric Acid

Well, this may surprise you, however, digestion does not begin after the food is taken into the mouth. Digestion usually starts with the thoughts of food, or even at the sight of food. When the brain anticipates a meal coming in the mouth, the vagus nerve is responsible for sending a message to the brain, causing a release of acetylcholine. 

The juices present in the stomach binds the effective choli and secretes histamine, which is responsible for stimulating the parietal cells in the gastric glands of the body. That starts secreting hydrochloric acid so that immediately when the food comes in, the body is able to digest it. 

  • Hydrochloric acid has a lot of purposes, but mostly associated with the degradation of proteins and polysaccharides so that they can they are able to cross the intestine epithelium. An average person produces approximately 2 litres of hydrochloric acid in a day. 
  • The pH level of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach ranges from 1.5 to 3 depending on the factors, such as stress, food intake, medications and supplements increase signs of the accident in the body is a signal of gastric motility. They help in killing bacterias that are injected with the normal food.
  • The antral d cells are responsible for a negative feedback loop that is responsible for regulating the pH of the stomach. 
  • The antral d cells release somatostatin which inhibits the release of gastrin. As with the digestion process the food is moved out of the stomach and the body serves to inhibit HCL secretion.
  •  If you are under a lot of stress or you are overeating or binge eating regularly, your stomach is responsible for producing excess amount of HCL. This causes heartburn, a burning discomfort in the stomach and the esophagus. 
  • Over the counter drugs contain a base material known to neutralize the effect of hydrochloric acid in the body.

In most cases excess of hydrochloric acid used with other medications are responsible for life-threatening gastrointestinal infection, that may also compel a person to go on the gastrointestinal surgeries

Treatment Options For Excess Hydrochloric Acid

  • Excess hydrochloric acid may be caused by the presence of h pylori infection. 
  • Antibiotics as well as over the counter medications are prescribed to suppress the hydrochloric acid production in the body. 
  • A proton pump inhibitor is a popular medication responsible for blocking the production of hydrochloric acid.
  • The protein pump is joined with the proton pump where the pump prevents from attaching to the hydrogen ions and transporting them to the duct of the gastric gland. 
  • One of the most powerful inhibitors of hydrochloric acid in the body are the proton pump inhibitors. 
  • They are also referred to as the receptor antagonists because they are more effective than any other antacids.  

Possible Consequences And Disorders From Hydrochloric Acid

An enzyme called pepsin is one of the most activated enzymes in the stomach which prevents protein to pass on the small intestine. Without the presence of an activated  enzyme, pepsin in the stomach, proteins in their undigested form bypass into the small intestine. 

Thereafter trypsin in the small intestine does the same job as pepsin. The enzyme trypsin is present in the basic environment where nutrient absorption takes place. Intestine enzymes complete the digestion process where proteins and amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Without the proper action of pepsin digestion may be reduced.

Chronic hypochlorhydria leads to reduction in bone density.

Low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach leads to an overgrowth of bacteria including helicobacter pylori. These bacteria reaches the small intestine and competes with the human cells for absorption of nutrients and other minerals required to make strong bones and teeth. Therefore, people with hydrochloric acid disorders of a from bone health issues.






Tags: Inorganic compounds in the human body, How does the stomach protect itself from hydrochloric acid, Digestive system