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The Human Stomach

What is the stomach?

The stomach is an organ of digestion. It has a saclike shape and is located between the esophagus and the intestines. Almost every animal has a stomach.

The human stomach is a muscular, elastic, pear-shaped bag, lying crosswise in the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. It changes size and shape according to is position of the body and the amount of food inside. The stomach is about 12 inches (30.5 cm) long and is 6 inches. (15.2 cm) wide at its widest point. The stomach's capacity is about 1 qt (0.94 liters) in an adult.

Food enters the stomach from the esophagus. The connection between the stomach and the esophagus is called the cardiac sphincter. The cardiac sphincter prevents food from passing back to the esophagus. Heart burn is the sensation when stomach juices (gastric juice) is allowed to seep through the sphincter into the esophagus. Once the food enters the stomach, gastric juices are used to break down the food. Some substances are absorbed muscle lining of the stomach. One of the substances the stomach absorbs is alcohol.

The other end of the stomach empties into the duodenum. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine. The pyloric sphincter separates the stomach from the duodenum.

The stomach is composed of five layers. Starting from the inside and working our way out, the innermost layer is called the mucosa. Stomach acid and digestive juices are made in the mucosa layer. The next layer is called the submucosa. The submucosa is surrounded by the muscularis, a layer of muscle that moves and mixes the stomach contents. The next two layers, the subserosa and the serosa are the wrapping for the stomach. The serosa is the outermost layer of the stomach.

Fun Stomach Facts

  • Most digestion takes place in the intestine, not the stomach. (Stomach breaks food into small particles, while the intestine digests it)
  • One you are an adult, your stomach will not shrink unless you have surgery to intentionally reduce it.
  • Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks otherwise it will digest itself
  • Eating less does not reduce stomach size

Gastric Bypass Surgery

If you are considering a gastric bypass surgery, read Gastric Bypass Surgery - What No One Tells you

Diseases of the Stomach

Some of the common stomach conditions are: stomach ulcer, gastritis, and stomach cancer. If there is bleeding in the stomach, black stool may occur.

Body Location of the Stomach

To look at the stomach in relation to other organs in the body, visit the digestive system


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