Since our stomach acid is so strong, why does vomiting not scar our throat and mouth?


Since our stomach acid is so strong, why does vomiting not scar our throat and mouth?

In: 7

Well, it does cause damage to your throat and mouth (especially teeth), but it takes more time and exposure for that to happen. So throwing up once from a bad potato salad isn’t going to do too much to you, but people who force themselves to vomit on a regular basis end up doing damage to these parts of their bodies.

It can.

People with bulimia suffer these side affects, and even their teeth begin to dissolve because of the repeated exposure to acid.

Also, “strong” when talking about acid just means it can dissolve almost anything. It doesn’t necessarily mean the acid can dissolve things *quickly*.

Our body produces a coating that can resist the acid. Normally your stomach is coated in this layer to protect it from digesting itself. Once your stomach contents leave and go into the intestines other organs release neutralizing compounds to reduce the acidity and protect the intestines from the acid.

Your esophagus, nose, and mouth are somewhat protected but less so considering acid isn’t meant to go *that way*. Generally speaking, they are protected enough to handle *some* vomit. But repeated exposure to stomach acid from various illnesses like reflux or bulimia can cause permanent damage like an eroded esophagus or even some cancers. Trust me, it happens and it’s nasty. Get stomach disorders treated folks.

The damage is limited because we tend to spit it out and rinse our mouth out. Acid isn’t like they show in the movies, it doesn’t instantly corrode and melt flesh. Additionally, we tend not to vomit pure acid, but rather we tend to vomit when we have a stomach that is full of things. This helps to dilute the acid. Also, all the surfaces of your body are coated with epithelial cells, which are strong cells with lots of defenses that are meant to keep everything that is you inside, and everything that isn’t you outside. Your mouth is just as protected from the environment as your hands are!

Most digestion isn’t actually caused by the stomach acid, it just helps along the major methods of absorbing the macro nutrients (bile, proteases, and amylase for fats, proteins, and carbs respectively).

It does cause damage to the throat and mouth (and other tissues). Take chronic GERD – over time it changes the cellular composition of the lower esophageal tissue (this is a form of metaplasia known as Barrett’s esophagus). Over time this metaplasia continues into an irreversible dysplasia, which is how you can end up with esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Acid corrosion can also be evidenced in bulimics, with enamel erosion. Other pathologies related to your question exist, but these are a few.

Why does vomiting once not cause issues? Because of the mucosal layer. It acts as a buffer. This is seen to fail when people take NSAIDs to the extent where the mucosal layer is eradicated (prostaglandins produce it) and you end up with stomach ulcers.