When food enters the body through the mouth, it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. Glands in the stomach secrete hydrochloric acid, also known as gastric acid, which aid in the digestion and break down of food. Normally, gastric acid has a pH value of two or three. A pH of seven is neutral. An excess release of gastric acid may be caused by: • Difficult to digest food • Overeating • Large amounts of alcohol • Emotional Stress Excess gastric acid increases the acidity in the stomach and decreases the pH to as low as one. This commonly results in an upset stomach. Symptoms may include: • Heartburn • Regurgitation • Indigestion Over-the-counter (OTC) medication called an antacid may be used for relief of these symptoms. Antacids contain chemicals called bases, which are the opposite of acids. Normally, the base dissolves into two pieces. One piece of the base binds to the acid to form a salt. The other may bind to create water and or a gas. As a result, the pH returns to a normal level. Common ingredients of antacids include sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, and aluminum and magnesium salts. If you need to take antacids often, you may need to consult a physician. Antacids may conflict with many drugs; therefore, it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these medications.
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