MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: What is the pH level when someone has indigestion?

Date: Mon Nov 16 18:56:17 1998
Posted By: McWilliams, Grad student, Optometry, University of Missouri- St. Louis
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 910632650.Me


     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.


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