Sour Stomach


Sour stomach comes about when the body produces too much hydrochloric acid. There are several factors that influence the body to produce huge amounts of hydrochloric acid, and these have been closely associated to improper eating habits. People who are suffering from sour stomach find it extremely uncomfortable and painful. While most people experience it only at some point in their lives, others have to deal with it more frequently.

The treatment for sour stomach helps sufferers by alleviating the associated symptoms. The patient should seek medical advice for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment, especially if the condition keeps on recurring. Repeated bouts of sour stomach may be a red flag for a more serious medical condition and requires immediate treatment.

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What is sour stomach?

The term refers to a variety of symptoms related to upper gastrointestinal problems. It is a common name for acid indigestion and is often acute which occurs once in a while, with the linked symptoms resolving spontaneously even without treatment. However, chronic sour stomach requires a thorough evaluation as it may be a sign of a graver health problem.

Why does sour stomach occur?

Sour stomach occurs as a result of too much hydrochloric acid present in the digestive tract and stomach. There are several reasons why the levels of hydrochloric acid increase resulting to sour stomach. Hydrochloric acid plays a vital role in the digestive process as it helps in the digestion of fat, vitamins, minerals and proteins. It is also responsible in maintaining the right level of stomach acidity and warding off of parasites, bacteria and viruses. However, too much production of hydrochloric acid or stomach acid is bad for the stomach.

What causes sour stomach?

There might be several reasons why sour stomach is felt but majority of the cases have something to do with one’s lifestyle and eating habits. Some of these include:

  • Overeating

People eating huge amounts of food before going to bed shortens the time the body requires for food processing, making it easier for the stomach acid to return into the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Eating too fast

Food is not properly chewed when a person eats too fast thereby causing the acidity of the stomach to increase.

  • Eating hard-to-digest food

Foods which take a long time to digest impair the normal digestion process which results in acid indigestion. These include fatty and spicy foods as well as carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

  • Unhealthy habits

Smoking and consuming tobacco can irritate the stomach which may lead to ulcer.

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  • Stress

The ability of the body to function properly is affected by the emotional condition of a person. People who are tensed or worried find that their stomach tightens leading to sour stomach.

  • Certain medications

Certain medications can trigger sour stomach such as aspirin, antibiotics and NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some chronic medical conditions, like peptic ulcer, viral infections, functional dyspepsia, gastritis and gastroenteritis can also bring about acid indigestion.

How prevalent is sour stomach?

Sour stomach is prevalent especially among adults, of which 70% of those affected visit the doctor due to gastrointestinal complaints. The condition is remarkably lower among older adults while a higher incidence is noted in adult women.

While some people feel only mild discomfort, others suffer from debilitating and severe symptoms. Stomach pain, nausea, excessive belching and bloating are some of the things the sufferers feel which may last from several minutes to hours. In rare cases, the patient also feels additional symptoms such as stomach noises, abdominal distension, abdominal pain, sour taste in the mouth and heartburn.

Sour stomach treatment

Most of the time, sour stomach clears on its own. The condition is often treated with antacids, which provide temporary but fast relief. However, patients should be cautious when using these medications as these may result to myriad of complications and signs of more serious medical disorders. Acid suppressing medications may also be used in treating sour stomach.

Sour stomach prevention 

Periodic episodes of sour stomach can be prevented by doing the following things:

  • Drinking natural herbs

There are natural herbs that are proven effective in the treatment and prevention of acid indigestion.  Some of these are baking soda solution, ginger tea, marshmallow root, ginger root and teas that contain coriander, licorice or chamomile.

  • Changing eating patterns

Fried and greasy foods should be limited especially at night, including alcoholic beverages, coffee and chocolate.

  • Modifying one’s lifestyle

This could be done by stopping smoking or consuming tobacco. It is also important for those with sour stomach to engage in regular exercise and boost their mind and body to manage stress properly.

Sour stomach is a relatively common digestive disorder which primarily occurs due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Although most of the time it is harmless and resolves on its own, people should seek treatment because persistent sour stomach can damage the stomach lining or signifies a more serious gastrointestinal problem.

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  3. Vomiting in Children

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