Our stomach produces acid to digest the food that we eat. This is a regular and natural process. Whenever we eat, cells within the lining of the stomach pump acid to liquefy your sumptuous dinner, from mash potatoes to a slab of steak.
Problem occurs when these cells produce large amount of acid, more than your stomach needs. When this happens, you will suffer from stomach acidity. You would know if you were suffering from stomach acidity if you feel a burning sensation just above the stomach, or right below (the hollow part) your breastbone. This is the most classic sign of acidity.
turning down food.
heartburn, chest and stomach pain, gas formation in stomach.
A weakness of the valve between the stomach and oesophagus (food pipe) can cause a reflux of the acid from the stomach to the lower part of the oesophagus. This gastro-oesophageal reflux can cause heart-burn.
Sometimes, a heavy meal or increase in intra-abdominal pressure such as while straining or lifting weights, can bring about this reflux.
Excess acid secretion can also cause acidity and ulcers, when the normal protective lining of the stomach and duodenum (the part of the intestine that joins the stomach), is damaged. The resulting ulcer is called gastric ulcer if it is in the stomach and duodenal ulcer if it is in the duodenum.
In a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome, a large amount of acid is secreted because of stimulation by tumours located in the pancreas or duodenum.
Any kind of break down in the defense mechanisms that protect the stomach and intestine from damage by acid can cause acidity.
The body secretes bicarbonate into the mucous layer, which neutralises the acid. Hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins, help to keep the blood vessels in the stomach dilated, ensuring adequate blood flow.
Lack of adequate blood flow to the stomach may contribute to ulcers. Prostaglandins are also believed to stimulate bicarbonate and mucous production, which help protect the stomach.
Consumption of alcohol, highly spicy foodstuffs, irregular food habits, and Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) also predispose to gastric acidity.
There is a higher incidence of acidity in highly emotional and nervous individuals. It is also more common in the developed and industrialized nations, though a recent increase in incidence has also occurred in the developing countries.