|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Chris: I don't think there is a certain pH level that causes indigestion, although the higher the acidity, the greater the potential for problems. However, indigestion can be a result of too low of a pH. When food enters the stomach and enzymes are released, the pH can become very acidic (pH around 2) so that it can break down the complex food molecules, like carbohydrates and proteins. When one has indigestion caused by stomach problems, it may be indicate a more severe underlying disorder like eusophygeal reflux disease in which acidic stomach contents "burn" the eusophagus. This can cause severe heartburn. Many people suffer heartburn, which is usually caused by the eusophygeal sphincter not closing all the way, or simply from eating a really spicy meal. Some people who may have underlying heart disease, may mistaken heart pains or myocardial infarctions as heartburn. Some people suffer indigestion due to ulcers in the stomach. Some ulcers perforate and can cause bleeding into the peritoneum, which is a much more serious problem. There are people who have bled to death from such severe ulcers. Usually there is severe pain associated with severe stomach ulcers. Some indigestion can also be caused by the abnormal closing or function of the duodenal sphincter, which is responsible for emptying the stomach contents into the duodenum (first part of small intestines). In the duodenum, other enzymes are added and digestion and absorption take place. As you probably already know, these sphincter muscles located throughout the alimentary canal are controlled by smooth muscles, muscles in which we have no voluntary control. They are under parasympathetic control of our nervous system. Other indigestion can be caused by lack of the body to digest certain foods, like milk products or beans. This leads to abdominal discomfort or cramping. There are other problems associated with long term indigestion, like irritable bowel syndrome, or coilitis. Anyway, I hope the above information helps. Good luck to you. Kenton
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