Hypochlorhydria: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Hypochlorhydria?

Hypochlorhydria is recognized as a shortage of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. A stomach secretion is made up of several enzymes, hydrochloric acid plus one mucus coating which shield the coating of your stomach. The benefits of hydrochloric acid are many; it aids your body in digestion and breaking down and absorbing nutrients, like protein. This also removes viruses and bacteria in your stomach, thus, protecting it from infection. If left untreated, hypochlorhydria can cause injury to your gastrointestinal system, many chronic health issues, and infections.

What is Hypochlorhydria?

Symptoms of Hypochlorhydria

The symptoms of hypochlorhydria include:

  • Unable to get the taste of meat
  • Either a current or a past history of one vegan diet
  • Gas or belching in nearly an hour after you have finished your meal
  • Cramps or bloating within one hour of eating the meal can be a symptom of Hypochlorhydria.
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Bad breath even after brushing your teeth
  • Perspiration is stinky
  • No urge to eat breakfast or feeling hungry all the time, even at times when you are absolutely full
  • Feeling excessively sleepy post your meals can also be a symptom of Hypochlorhydria.
  • Undigested foods in your stools
  • Broken, peeled or chipped fingernails
  • Anaemia which doesn’t retort to iron supplementation.

Causes of Hypochlorhydria

The most common causes of hypochlorhydria are:

  • Age as a Cause of Hypochlorhydria: The problem of hypochlorhydria is commonly found in older people. People who have crossed the age of 65 years may suffer from the low intensities of hydrochloric acid.
  • Stress: If you suffer from chronic stress, then it can lessen the production of stomach acid.
  • Medications: Taking medications or antacids to treat acid reflux and ulcers for a long stretch of time lead to hypochlorhydria. If you have been taking these medications and you feel that you are suffering from the signs of low stomach acid then it would be wiser to speak with your physician. Never change any medication or take higher or lower dosages than prescribed.
  • Vitamin Deficiency as a Reason for Hypochlorhydria: A shortage of Vitamin B or zinc may result in low stomach acid. These shortages may be the result of an improper dietary intake or shortage of nutrient from smoking, stress or consumption of alcohol.
  • Surgery: If you have undergone surgeries of your stomach, like gastric bypass surgery then it can lessen the production of stomach acid.
  • Helicobacter pylori as a Reason for Hypochlorhydria: A contamination with H.pylori is viewed as a common reason of gastric ulcers. If you ignore it, it can show its outcome hypochlorhydria.

Diagnosis of Hypochlorhydria

For examining whether a person is suffering from hypochlorhydria, the person undergoes a whole body physical examination by a physician. The physician will also consider the symptoms as well as the history of the person. The stomach secretion generally has a lower pH level, by which it is meant that it is highly acidic. If your stomach pH is lesser than 3, then it is absolutely normal. When it is between 3 and 5, you are suffering from hypochlorhydria and when it is exceeding 5, the person is suffering from achlorhydria.

A person who has got achlorhydria has no stomach acid. However, premature infants and elderly people have advanced stomach pH levels compared to the average people. Additionally, your physician may ask you to perform some blood tests to see whether you are suffering from some nutrient deficiencies and have anemia or not. Based on the evaluation plus the seriousness of your signs, your doctor may refer to one gastrointestinal specialist.

Treatment for Hypochlorhydria

Stomach is by nature an acidic location with the effects of low stomach acid that compromises the whole digestive tract besides your health. When you are unable to break down the foods effectively then it prevents your body from absorbing essential minerals and vitamins. However, there are some ways that would help you to balance the acidity level and they are as follows:

  • Chew Properly to Treat Hypochlorhydria: When you chew your food thoroughly then it helps in stimulating your digestive enzymes present in your mouth as well in your stomach. Break your food into little pieces for helping you to ingest it easier.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: If you consume apple cider vinegar before your meals then it will help you to balance the pH levels in your stomach. You are advised to take a tablespoon combined with little water.
  • Eat 2-3 hours before Bed: You must abstain from eating at least 2-3 hours before retiring to bed. When you eat too late then it causes your body to distract energy resources to the digestive tract in place of utilizing them to aid in restoring your body whilst eating. Apart from this, it can also increase the chances of gastrointestinal reflux.
  • Supplement your Meals with Hot Tea: When you drink dandelion root tea or warm ginger tea then it increases the production of stomach acid in a natural process. On the contrary, you shouldn’t drink cold water as it hinders stomach acid production and also slows down digestion.
  • Manuka Honey Can Help Treat Hypochlorhydria: Manuka honey is produced in Australia and New Zealand and it consists of naturally occurring peroxide that transforms it into a powerful anti-bacterial content. You can take a teaspoon of this honey two times a day.
  • Sea Salt for Treating Hypochlorhydria: Taking a recommended dosage of unrefined sea salt helps to supply your stomach with chloride since it is an essential constituent of the stomach acid.
  • Do not Over-hydrate: Though lots of water is generally recommended, yet drinking too much is bad for you. If you drink plenty of water prior to or post meals, then it can dilute the stomach acid thus preventing proper digestion.


Consulting a doctor and paying notice to your lifestyle patterns too are hugely helpful in narrowing down the main reasons of low stomach acid and this will lessen the danger of future complications in a great way. Remember, hypochlorhydria can result in severe health problems if you left it untreated. When you have some symptoms or digestive changes that are bothering you then consult a doctor at the earliest. The best part is it is really possible to treat numerous causes of this problem.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2018

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