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How do I Know if I Have Too Much or Too Little Acid?

Very often, the food we eat tends to sit uncomfortably in our stomach, causing it to bloat. Whilst most of us feel relieved after belching, there are times when this food causes heartburn and acid reflux. Interestingly, experts believe that some quantity of stomach acid that is created due to eating is actually beneficial to our body. However, it is harmful and causes problems only when it is in excess or in really reduced amounts. Knowing what causes such reduced or increased quantities of acid in the stomach as well as its symptoms will help you avoid it and lead a healthy life.  



too much or too little stomach acidStomach acid and its advantages 


As mentioned earlier, contrary to popular belief, stomach acid is actually beneficial to the body. Primarily, it is absolutely essential for digestion, especially of proteins whilst also helping in the absorption of nutrients like iron and calcium.


It is important to note that lack of adequate quantities of liquid will lead to improper digestion of food, which in turn will lead to the body not getting adequate nutrients. Similarly, acids in our body act as barriers against bacteria and other parasites that enter our body through food. Lastly, with our food intake not restricted to healthy foods, the ingestion of large quantities of acid rich foods is unavoidable. Under these circumstances, the creation of stomach acids actually helps in removing the bad effect of these acid rich foods. 


Symptoms of stomach acid 


Before testing whether you have too much or too little stomach acid in the body, it is important to understand the symptoms of stomach acid. Incidentally, whether you have too much stomach acid or too little of it, much of the symptoms are the same. These include belching, bloating, acidic or sour taste in the mouth due to reflux, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Other symptoms, which may or may not be present in all types of stomach acid include acne, depression, food allergies, hair loss, especially in women, lack of energy and weight loss. It is important to note that where you experience any one of these symptoms, chances are that you are suffering from stomach acid problem. 


Tests for checking stomach acid levels 


It is pertinent to note that there are several tests available today that help you to determine whether the acid levels in your body are high or low. Here are some of the common tests that are available: 


·         Adding vinegar to diet: This is the simplest test for checking whether you have too much or too little acid in your stomach. All you need to do here is to include vinegar in your diet and monitor your reaction to the addition. In other words, add apple cider vinegar to your food and monitor your reaction. If there is a marked decrease in your symptoms of indigestion, then you can safely determine that you are suffering from too little stomach acid. And where it does not resolve anything, it is possible that you have high acid levels. 

·         Heidelberg Capsules: Being a slightly more sophisticated test, this requires a visit to the physician, where you are given certain capsules. The patients are required to swallow a capsule, which are basically radio transmitting devices. Once this capsule is ingested, it measures and reports the levels of stomach acid in your body. 

·         Gastric acid analysis: Another test for measuring level of stomach acid is where the patients undergo a gastric acid analysis, which is a diagnostic test. Here a nasal gastric tube is inserted through the esophagus into your stomach. A meter is present at the end of the tube, which measures the level of acids in the juices that are present in your stomach. 

·         Zypan test: This is perhaps the easiest and the cheapest test that you can use for measuring the level of stomach acid in your body. Here the patient is required to swallow Zypan tablets, which are basically tablets that contain betaine-HCL and other important enzymes to enable digestion. If ingesting this tablet along with your meal controls the problem caused by stomach acids, it is assumed that your body produces too little stomach acid. 


Irrespective of which test you use to determine the level of stomach acids in the body, it is important to remember that having too much or too little acid is not healthy. Therefore, it is imperative that you take remedial measures to ensure that your body secretes the adequate level of acids that it requires.