Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Sour Stomach?
This is a gastrointestinal condition that is commonly suffered by people from time to time. It is also known as acid indigestion. Sour stomach is considered different from acid reflux and heartburn. Having a sour stomach is usually considered acute, which means it is not recurrent, constant, or persistent. It can affect people of any age, gender, or race. Many times pregnant women will suffer from sour stomach especially late in her pregnancy.
Sour Stomach Symptoms
The symptoms can range from mild and disturbing to debilitating but are not life-threatening. Having a sour stomach can cause a general discomfort feeling in your stomach along with other symptoms such as:
- Bloating and having the feeling of being full even after eating a small amount of food
- Excessive burping
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Digestive problems
- Having a bad taste like acidic, sour, or metallic in your mouth
- Stomach noises like loud gurgling
- Morning sickness in pregnant women
Sometimes when a person has a sour stomach it may also be accompanied by heartburn and acid reflux.
Causes of Sour Stomach
The typical cause of having a sour stomach comes from having an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid present in your digestive tract and stomach. Hydrochloric acid is a highly pungent and colorless solution of water and hydrogen chloride and is also known as gastric acid.
Some of the reasons that a person may have an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid in their stomach and digestive tract causing a sour stomach may include:
- Consuming too much food within a few hours of going to bed. When you eat within a few hours of going to bed your body does not have enough time to process the food eaten before you lay down putting your body in a prone position. Being in a prone position will usually make it easier for the gastric acid to back up into your digestive tract and cause a burning sensation in your stomach. This can make it very difficult to rest
- Eating the wrong type of food such as too much fatty food which can irritate your stomach
- Smoking or using any type of tobacco products which can also lead to developing an ulcer
- Eating foods that are high in sugar, especially at dinner time
- Consuming dairy products late at night because they contain enzymes that are difficult for your digestive system to digest quickly
- Excessive consumption of carbonated drinks
- Lying face down right after eating
- Eating too fast
- Swallowing too much air when you are eating referred to as aerophagia
- Food poisoning and food infection referred to as gastroenteritis, especially if you have diarrhea and vomiting.
- In pregnant women many times the cause are hormone-driven along with her digestive tract slowing down so it can extract all the nutrition from the food for the growing fetus. This results in the food sitting in her stomach for a longer period of time.
Remedies for Sour Stomach
- Aloe Vera juice – it is said that the juice has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties so you should drink some each day. You can make your own or buy the juice. Drinking it will help to relieve the discomfort that can be caused by acid indigestion
- Drink a mixture of equal amounts of water and carrot juice. To make this drink more effective add some fennel seeds.
- Consume papaya daily whether eating the fruit or drinking papaya juice
- To reduce the acidity levels in your stomach drink a cup or two of green tea each day. To help speed up the digestion process you can add coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds to the green tea
- Taking herbal supplements like wind flower, ginger root, marshmallow root, etc
- Taking over-the-counter medications like antacids for temporary relief
- Eat a bland diet that is balanced in protein and carbohydrates with moderate to low amounts of any type of fat
- Eat several small meals or portions throughout the day instead of three large meals
- For pregnant women they can drink herbal teas such as chamomile tea
If your case of sour stomach is severe or happens frequently even with lifestyle changes you should see your physician. Your physician may prescribe stomach acid medications to help treat your sour stomach. Before taking any over-the-counter medication if you are pregnant and experiencing sour stomach you should talk to your physician first.
Relief for Sour Stomach
Many times the symptoms that are associated with sour stomach will resolve on its own with little or no treatment but there are some things that you can do to give yourself relief from a sour stomach such as:
- If the cause is eating within a few hours of going to sleep you can get relief by making sure that you eat earlier and also engage in some type of light exercise like taking a walk after eating to help stimulate the digestive process before you go to bed
- If you have eaten too much fatty foods you can take an antacid to help ease the discomfort. You should also make sure you are eating more foods like green vegetables that are more nutrient rich and less animal fats
- Quit smoking and give up any type of tobacco products
Practice yoga or other stress reducing activities or exercises or counseling to help reduce your stress levels
- Do not eat or drink dairy products before going to bed or a couple of hours before bedtime.