Acid! It’s a chemical substance that has so many uses in different fields somewhere it is beneficial and summer harmful and the acid our stomach has that is hydrochloric acid (HCL) should be at optimum level. A slight increase or decrease in HCL may lead to various diseases one such is Hypochlorhydria. Hypochlorhydria is the deficiency of HCL in our stomach.
The most common cause of Hypochlorhydria is:
- Chronic atrophic gastritis can be caused by helicobacter pylori(H. pylori) infection
- Or of an autoimmune reaction.
Both are frequently asymptomatic and remain undiagnosed in many people.
Our stomach has various cells on its inner lining and one of them is oxyntic or parietal Cell which secretes HCL.
HCL helps in:
- breakdown of food
- and its digestion
- kills foreign bacteria and pathogens which can cause infection
- helps in absorption and some nutrients such as protein and Vitamin B12
The deficiency of HCL leads to a large number of diseases and if not treated before it becomes worse and disturbs the daily routine of a person.
All the above benefits of HCL becomes opposite in its deficiency, like
- body become unable to absorb and digest nutrients
- if not treated it leads to various chronic health issues
- a large number of infections
- can cause damage to gastrointestinal system (GIT).
CAUSES OF HYPOCHLORHYDRIA
There are various causes of hypochlorhydria and some of them are some
- Age– as a person starts ageing, the production of HCL by its oxyntic cells decreases. People above the age of 65 have high chances of getting this disease.
- Stress– Chronic stress leads to a decrease in the production of stomach acid that is HCL.
- Vitamin deficiency– mainly zincs deficiency and B vitamin deficiency due to their fewer intakes in diet or by loss of nutrients from smoking, stress, alcohol consumption.
- Bacterial infection– the bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) causes gastric ulcers in about 50% population of the world and if left untreated causes a reduction in the production of hydrochloric acid(HCL) in the stomach.
- Stomach surgery– gastric Bypass surgery reduces the amount of stomach acid production.
- Medications– taking antacids or antihistamines or other medications for a long time to treat ulcers and Acid Reflux such as PPIs (protein pump inhibitors) may lead to hypochlorhydria.
Relating PPIs with age
- It is the best selling drug in the world
- In only US there are 100 millions prescriptions in which PPIs are fileed and 20 million people consume it per year.
- And some of the lower dosage variants are used even without prescription to prevent symptoms of gastroesophageal Reflux.
- These benefits of PPIs make old age persons too consume it frequently.
SYMPTOMS OF HYPOCHLORHYDRIA
Symptoms here are related to
- increased risk of infection
- low absorption of nutrients
- and difficulty in digestion
And the symptoms are
- upset stomach
- nausea while taking vitamins and other supplements
- desire to eat when not hungry
- Gastrointestinal Infection (GI)
- brittle nails
- iron deficiency anaemia
- hair loss
- vitamin B12, calcium and magnesium deficiency
- zinc deficiency
- protein deficiency
There is a relation between hypochlorhydria and other medical problems such as–
- Pernicious anaemia
- Gall bladder disease
- Chronic autoimmune disorders
- Thyroid issues
- Gall bladder– Hypochlorhydria is common in patients who are having gall bladder disease. Hypochlorhydria is not proven to cause gallbladder disease but it is a reason for symptoms associated with chronic cholecystitis.
- In hypochlorhydria, hydrochloric acid (HCL) replacement therapy with meals is one of the reliefs. Here the patient has to eat frequently.
- Asthma– about 80% of the asthmatic children has less production of stomach acid in the body and hence hypochlorhydria and food allergies are the reasons for asthma.
RISK FACTORS OF HYPOCHLORHYDRIA
- age of 65 and above
- high levels of chronic stress
- Helicobater pylori (H. pylori) infection
- history of stomach surgery
- use of medications which reduces stomach acid
- zinc and Vitamins deficiency
DIAGNOSIS OF HYPOCHLORHYDRIA
- Consult a doctor .They will check the pH or acidity of the patient’s stomach
|Less than 3||normal|
|Greater than 5||achlorhydria|
- Achlorhydria means people with no stomach acid .
- Old people and premature infants have hypochlorhydria in common than others.
- Blood test to check deficiency of iron causing anaemia and other nutrients deficiency.
- Doctors may prescribe HCL supplements to confirm that the patient has hypochlorhydria, if the person feels better after taking those supplements it is proven to be hypochlorhydria.
- Antibiotics for helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection- Two antibiotics at once if the bacterium develops resistance for one can be killed from another.
- The doctor recommends stopping the use of antacids or antihistamines or any other PPIs which can result in hypochlorhydria.
- Doctors prescribe HCL supplements and pepsin enzyme to increase the acidity of the stomach, especially to older people.
- Natural digestive enzymes containing extracts of papaya and pineapple available in drug stores also help in their treatment. All the above medications are prescribed by the doctors only.
- Stress management– various Lifestyle changes to release chronic stress are-
- Workout regularly
- learn deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation techniques
- practice meditation regularly
- attend various therapies
- manage and reduce the source of your stress
- Eating habits
- change of diet and eating habits
- avoid fatty and fried foods which are difficult to digest
- chew thoroughly to break down food properly
- avoid eating for at least 3 hours before going to bed
- do not lie down immediately after your meals
- and do not eat while lying down
- Look for nutrient deficiencies
- Especially Zinc and zinc-rich food that are
- baked beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Oysters and crabs
- fortified breakfast cereals
- Especially Zinc and zinc-rich food that are
Consult a doctor or dietician for that and they may recommend you to take supplements or through your diet.
IF LEFT UNTREATED
It is a major health issue and if left untreated this has got a very negative impact on the person.
So go get tested if you are having above symptoms. Various treatments are provided by the doctor once the cause for low stomach acid in the person is known and thus it can be controlled. Also to prevent this various lifestyle and dietary changes has to be done.