Citric acid is a main component in some fruits, medications and processed foods. It can trigger stomach upset and other health issues among individuals who could not tolerate the substance or those who are allergic to it. In some cases, certain medications that contain citric acid can actually relieve stomach complaints.
What is citric acid?
Citric acid naturally occurs in the human body. Take note that citrus fruits and fruit juices can provide a large amount of dietary citric acid. Lime and lemon juice have the highest level of citric acid than orange or grapefruit. Certain roots, vegetables and milk can also contain citric acid. With the help of modern technological advancements, citric acid can be produced from molasses, thus adding it to products as flavoring, pharmaceutical use or for preservation.
Allergy to citric acid
Some individuals experience an allergic reaction to citrus fruits. When it comes to food allergies, the body perceives a substance in food as a threat and attempts to attack it. The immune system will produce antibodies and other chemicals during an allergic reaction which includes symptoms such as itching, runny nose and rashes. By enrolling in a first aid class, you will learn more about allergies.
During severe allergic reactions, it can include diarrhea, nausea and even death. Even though some claim to be allergic to citric acid, they might be suffering from reactions to the chemical known as limonene or proteins in the fruit, not to the citric acid.
Citric acid intolerance
Citric acid intolerance is considered rare. Take note that intolerance is different from an allergy since the body simply could not digest it due to the lack of an essential chemical that breaks up the food. The symptoms of citric acid intolerance include stomach cramping and pain, blotchy or scabby skin, vomiting and dark rings under the eyes.
Occurrence of acid reflux
Even though citric acid is irritating to the stomach, it can actually cure an upset stomach in some individuals. Acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) basically stems from acid that rises to the throat. If the stomach acid level is low, it can actually worsen the condition as the undigested foods rests in the stomach.
Citric acid medications can provide relief in such cases. Take note that Alka-Seltzer is a commonly used over-the-counter medication that combines citric acid, hydrogen carbonate and aspirin in order to ease the indigestion and headache. On the other hand, individuals who have ulcer should avoid Alka-Seltzer due to the risk of aggravating their condition.
Preventing stomach problems caused by citric acid
The ideal way to prevent stomach problems caused by citric acid is to avoid foods that contain it as well as foods that include it as an additive. Encourage the individual to check the ingredients on the labels to determine if certain foods bought at groceries contain citric acid.
Fruits that contain minimal amounts of citric acid include pears, apples, grapes, cherries and dried figs. Additionally, omega-3 oils such as cod liver oil and flaxseed as well as multivitamins can help ease the effects of citric acid on the stomach.