Definition.—Increased activity of the secreting apparatus of the stomach, whereby an undue amount of hydrochloric acid, more than is required for the purpose of digestion, is secreted.
Etiology.—Hyperacidity, or increased secretion, usually occurs from one to three hours after taking food, and may be due to some of the causes already mentioned under nervous dyspepsia; namely, grief, melancholy, prolonged and severe mental exertion, financial or family troubles, or to reflex disturbances, occasioned by irritation at some of the orifices of the body. Dissipation, late suppers, excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, and tea and coffee, may also figure as causative factors.
Symptoms.—One or two hours after taking food the patient experiences a burning, scalding, or gnawing sensation in the stomach, accompanied by eructations of a sour, acrid fluid, and, as the patient expresses it, it seems to scald the throat and put the teeth on edge. If large quantities of fluid have been taken with the food, vomiting may ensue.
The hypersecretion of acid delays digestion, if much starchy food has been taken; in which case the pain is of longer duration. Albuminoids, on the other hand, are rapidly digested. With this condition is usually associated more or less headache, malaise, and dizziness or vertigo. There is frequently tenderness on pressure over the epigastrium.
Diagnosis.—The symptoms already given are usually sufficient for a diagnosis, though a positive knowledge is only determined by a repeated analysis of the gastric contents. This is made, one hour after partaking of a test breakfast, consisting of a roll and cup of tea, without milk or sugar. Free hydrochloric acid is greatly increased, if hyperacidity is present.
Prognosis.—This is always favorable in recent cases, though, in old chronic sufferers, the disease is often quite stubborn.
Treatment.—The diet should deserve first attention, and should consist principally of albuminous foods. Lean meats, eggs, milk, and whole-wheat bread should be the principal bill of fare. Acid fruits should be restricted, and also spirits in all forms, as they tend to excite the secreting glands. With the exception of milk, the patient does better on a dry diet.
Where the hyperacidity is excessive, a daily washing out of the stomach with a weak solution of sodium bicarbonate or boracic acid will prove beneficial. Full doses of sodium bicarbonate, one or two hours after each meal, will prove useful in neutralizing the excessive acidity.
Bismuth subnitrate in mint-water is also beneficial. Phosphate of hydrastin, 5 grains; nux vomica, 2 drops; water four ounces; a teaspoonful every three hours, will improve the tone of the stomach, and thus aid in the cure. Rhus tox., where the patient is very nervous and inclined to vomit, is a good remedy. Berberis aquifolium in five-drop doses, every three hours, will also give good results.
The Eclectic Practice of Medicine, 1907, was written by Rolla L. Thomas, M. S., M. D.