What is Hyperchlorhydria?
Hyperchlorhydria is a condition where the levels of gastric acid in the stomach are higher than normal.(3) The normal pH of the gastric acid in human beings is around 1 to 3, which fluctuates through the day.(1, 2) The late evening is the time when the highest basal secretion of the levels occurs. Hyperchlorhydria is a condition where the gastric acid pH is less than 2 and normally this poses no threat unless until there are other medical conditions present, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What Causes Hyperchlorhydria?
The cause of hyperchlorhydria is not known. It is thought that an improper diet, and the excessive use of protein food for long time along with hurried and irregular meals, injudicious use of stimulants and tobacco and imperfect mastication causes hyperchlorhydria.
Who are at Risk for Hyperchlorhydria?
Constipated individuals are more at risk for hyperchlorhydria.
Hyperchlorhydria is also commonly seen in young adults, particularly men. The later stages of Hyperchlorhydria are linked with other pathological conditions, such as:
- Gastritis with excessive secretion of mucus.
- Mild dilatation of the stomach.
- Intermittent spasm of the pyloric end of the stomach.
- A duodenal or gastric ulcer.
What are the Symptoms of Hyperchlorhydria?
The characteristic features of pain from hyperchlorhydria includes: pain developing from 1 to 2 hours after eating food; the pain is relieved by consumption of food; therefore known as hunger pain. The pain also gets relieved by taking alkali substance, such as carbonate of magnesia or bicarbonate of soda. The pain of hyperchlorhydria also occurs after a consumption of meal that is easily digested and also after eating a heavy meal.
Another characteristic feature of the hyperchlorhydria pain is that in severe cases, it can also occur in the night, a few hours after the last meal. In such patients, the pain can be extremely severe and spasmodic in nature akin to the pain felt in biliary colic.
How is the Diagnosis of Hyperchlorhydria Made?
- To diagnose if the patient is suffering from hyperchlorhydria, an x-ray of the stomach is taken after ingesting liquid barium, so that the gastrointestinal tract clearly shows up on the x-ray.
- Endoscopy can also be done to diagnose hyperchlorhydria.
- A blood test for Helicobacter pylori bacteria or a urea breath test can also be done.
- The patient is assessed to find out what is hindering the body’s ability to function normally.
How is Hyperchlorhydria Treated?
- Hyperchlorhydria has no cure; however, treatment can be done to reduce its severity. In case of severe stomach pain, cold compresses can be applied.
- It is also important to consume frequent small meals throughout the day.
- Antacids help a lot in hyperchlorhydria by decreasing the acidity of the stomach by neutralizing or chemically absorbing the excessive gastric acid; however, antacids also come with side effects, such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, bone demineralization, kidney stones, bone pain, muscle weakness and cramps.
- Additionally, antacids also may reduce the levels of magnesium, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus in the body.