You probably already know that our stomachs contain acid. But let's have a closer look at the role of the stomach and stomach acid in the digestive process, and how excess acid can potentially be the cause of a health-related problem.
What happens in the stomach?
The stomach is part of our digestive system. Once food enters the mouth, the digestive process begins. Teeth break food into smaller pieces, making it easier for us to swallow for further digestion. The saliva in your mouth also begins to digest the food. Then the food passes down the food pipe - the oesophagus. When a ring of muscle (sphincter) at the bottom of the food pipe opens, the food goes down into our stomachs.
Your stomach is basically a big bag. It contains hydrochloric acid that has three main functions. The first function is to help to kill bacteria that may be in our food. The second is to break down our food. The third function is to create the right conditions for a stomach enzyme, called pepsin, to work. The movement, or churning, of the stomach, together with the action of acid and enzymes, breaks the food down into a liquid. The nutrients in the liquid can then be extracted further down our digestive systems from our intestines.
Can stomach acid cause any problems?
Although the role of stomach acids is very important, it may potentially cause problems on occasions, for instance, if there is excess acid, and/or if the acid passes out of the stomach upwards (refluxes) into the food pipe. These are the problems that can be caused by too much stomach acid or reflux:
- The lining of the food pipe (oesophagus) is not designed to withstand too much stomach acid
- Pain can result if acid meets the lining of the food pipe
- A weak sphincter, excess acid or a very full stomach can all increase the chances of acid passing up (refluxing) into the food pipe
- Excess acid may also irritate the stomach lining or the top part of the small intestine (duodenum) and cause pain or discomfort.
- The pain can develop into heartburn and/or indigestion.
What can you do if the symptoms of stomach acid affect you?
There are a number of ways, such as lifestyle and dietary changes, to help prevent the pain caused by stomach acids. However, if you are affected by stomach acid already, there are various medications that can treat an acid-related condition, such as heartburn and indigestion. These range from antacids, which neutralise the acid in your stomach, to alginates which tackle symptoms of acid reflux. However, other treatments may be prescribed by a GP for more severe, persistent indigestion. One option for common acid-related conditions is Gaviscon Double Action.
How does Gaviscon Double Action protect against excess stomach acid?
Gaviscon Double Action gets to work in two ways:
- It effectively neutralises stomach acid
- It also forms a physical layer, or a protective barrier, over the stomach contents to help prevent acid refluxing up into the food pipe.
Gaviscon Double Action, therefore, offers dual relief against heartburn and indigestion. Also, it not only gets to work instantly, but also lasts up to twice as long as antacids.
So, as you can see, stomach acid is a vital part of the digestive process. Mostly it's our friend - but even if it becomes our foe, there are effective measures that can be taken to help.
All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine.