Often a cause for confusion - having too little stomach acid can actually produce symptoms similar to those of having too much.
Some of these shared symptoms include:
• Acid reflux
However, there are also some likely additional symptoms to look out for which may suggest you have too little, rather than too much, stomach acid:
• Bloating – with low levels of stomach acid we may fail to break down food properly in the stomach. Bacteria throughout your digestive tract are then able to attack the partially undigested food, fermentation occurs as a result of this and gas is produced
• Belching – belching may occur with excess gas. This is likely to be especially bad after high protein meals – for example large portions of meat, as the insufficient stomach acid struggles to break it all down properly
• Undigested food in stools – this is a result of food not being broken down properly. Food may travel the full length of the digestive tract without being broken down and utilised as a result of stomach acid failing to do its job
• Other digestive complaints – these may include flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea. These symptoms are again likely to be a result of undigested food travelling into the colon and causing problems in the gut
• Bacterial overgrowth – symptoms indicating a potential bacterial overgrowth include: fatigue, skin problems, food intolerance or brain fog. The bad bacteria in your gut can overpopulate quickly in the right conditions.
If you are on medication to treat symptoms of excessive stomach acid but suspect you actually have too little, you can try a simple home test to help clarify this.
Please note, these tests are not absolute and it is best to get low stomach acid diagnosed by your doctor – but they can be a useful indicator.