You may often find symptoms of acid reflux acting up at the worst times, such as during an important interview or any other major event of your life. People who experience stress-induced heartburn can relate to such situations better, and stressful events can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. However, most people are unaware that the butterfly in their stomachs might be more than just a feeling.
Some studies and surveys have also proven that stress may very well be another trigger for heartburn. But with some effective coping techniques, you can help calm your stomach even in the most trying times. For instance, drinking orange juice for breakfast and avoiding spicy food can help a lot.
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The Connection between Stress and Acid Reflux
Your routine and lifestyle choices can play a significant role in inducing several diseases. In 2009, a study reviewed the health surveys of 40,000 people and found that people who have work-related stress were significantly more at risk for acid reflux and GERD symptoms. Likewise, people who reported low job satisfaction were twice as likely to have acid reflux or GERD symptoms than those who reported high job satisfaction.
A more recent study interviewed 12,653 people with GERD and discovered that nearly half of the people reported stress as the most significant factor that worsened symptoms, even when they were using medication. It shows that there is a direct connection between stress and acid reflux symptoms, like heartburn.
Can Stress make Things Worse?
It is a debatable fact whether stress can increase the production of stomach acid or create a worsening in acid. Many scientists believe that stress can make you more sensitive to a considerable amount of acids in your esophagus. Research showed that people with acid reflux who were anxious and stressed reported experiencing more severe symptoms associated with acid reflux, but no one showed an increase in gastric acid. In simpler words, these people consistently experienced more discomfort, but the scientists did not find any increase in total acid produced. To see a better conclusion, a study from 2008 exposed people with acid reflux and GERD symptoms to a stressful noise. They found that it increased their symptoms and made them more sensitive to acid exposure. Stress-induced heartburn was one of the prominent symptoms.
Is there a Psychological Link?
Being exposed to a stressful environment may increase your symptoms without showing it physically, but it does not certainly mean that it is all in your head. Researchers speculate that stress may cause variations in the brain that turn up pain receptors, which makes you physically more susceptible to slight increases in acid levels. Moreover, stress can also reduce the production of prostaglandins, which usually protect the stomach from acid effects, increasing your understanding of discomfort.
Likewise, when stress is coupled with exhaustion, it may result in more body changes, leading to increased acid reflux. Despite what happens in the brain and the body, people who experience symptoms of acid reflux know that stress can make them feel more uncomfortable. In such situations, treating lifestyle factors is essential.
How to Avoid Stress Induced Heartburn?
Managing stress in your life can help lessen your risk of conditions such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stroke, obesity, and depression. The more you learn to deal with stress, the better your health will be.
Exercise can help you loosen up tight muscles, makes you get away from the office, and releases good natural hormones that can make you feel good. Moreover, it can also help you lose weight, ultimately helping you reduce the pressure on your abdomen.
2- Avoid Trigger Foods
It is vital if you are under stress. You are likely to be more sensitive to heartburn-triggering foods, including chocolate, fatty foods, caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, and spicy foods.
3- Get Enough Sleep
Stress and your sleeping routine can form a cycle. Sleep is a natural stress reducer, and less stress can help you get better sleep. Moreover, to help avoid heartburn symptoms while sleeping, keep your head raised.
4- Practice Relaxation Techniques
You should try out guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, or relaxing music. It will help you deal with your stress.
5- Learn to Say No
Prioritize yourself and your mental health over people and activities. It is perfectly fine to turn down the things that do not rank high on your priority list.
6- Laugh More
Watch a funny movie, see a comedian, or get together with friends. Laughing whole-heartedly is one of the best natural stress relievers.
These are some of the methods that can help you avoid stress-induced heartburn and acid reflux. If you want more information, you can book an appointment with the best cardiologist in Karachi through Marham.