Hollywood and the Hyperacidic Stomach

Tonight I saw the movie Julie & Julia. Eric, Julie’s husband, explains that he has a hyperacidic stomach while taking some Tums. Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome is a rare but serious medical condition that is caused by a hormone secreting tumor that triggers secretion of damaging amounts of stomach acid . Eric instead probably had recurrent heartburn, or GERD.

GERD is NOT caused by too much stomach acid; it’s caused by a loose valve that seperates the bottom of the esophagus from the stomach. This valve is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Certain foods commonly cause the LES to relax and are triggers for GERD symptoms: fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, mint, and tomatoes to name a few.

So, heartburn is not caused by too much stomach acid. It is caused when the contents of an appropriately acidic stomach move into the esophagus.

In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss surprising adverse effect from acid reducing medications.

Be well,
Richard

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