Why Does Stress Cause Stomach Pain Or Gi Discomfort
We know through research there is a strong connection between our brain and our gut through the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system an out-branching of the central nervous system serves the GI tract, making a direct connection between our brain and gastrointestinal system. That connection can cause normal physiologic processes to be interpreted as painful under stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.
When were stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body. This can negatively impact gut motility, or the way our intestines and stomach squeeze and move waste through the body. Also, stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, causing GI discomfort.
People experiencing chronic stress may also eat more or eat unhealthy foods with a higher amount of natural and artificial sugar that is poorly digested and causes GI distress. People may also smoke and drink more alcohol or caffeine than normal which can cause symptoms.
How To Improve Your Gut Health
There are lots of different ways you can try to improve your gut health, and its not all about the food you eat. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious and its impacting your digestive system, this could be damaging your gut microbiome thats the network on trillions of microbes that live in your gut. So any steps you can take to look after that microbiome will help limit the damage caused by stress, and also might help your stress in the first place!
When Should I See A Doctor For Stress Diarrhea
If you have diarrhea that comes on when youre stressed and it doesnt bother you, then theres really no reason to see a doctor, Dr. Farhadi says. “That’s normal,” he adds. But if this happens to you a lot and it feels like its screwing up your ability to lead a normal life, its time to check in with a medical professional.
Its really about the frequency and severity of the problem, Dr. Farhadi says. If the diarrhea is persistent, consistent, and has happened at least three times a week for the last 12 weeks, your doctor might suspect a medical condition like IBS-D. IBS-D, in case youre not familiar with it, is one of the three forms of irritable bowel syndrome .
IBS-D has several triggers, but stress is a big one, Dr. Menon notes. That said, having a lot of diarrhea when youre stressed could be a sign of other bowel conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or even a chronic food allergy, she points out. So, again, if your stress causes a lot of diarrhea and it bothers you, its worth at least a conversation with your doctor to try to figure out what’s happening in there.
Keep in mind that your doctor might loop a therapist in at some point to help. Lots of people with IBS find that theyre a whole lot better with treatment for anxiety, Dr. Saltz says.
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Eat Properly To Help Your Digestion
It’s very easy to spend our working lives eating on the move or at our desks, gulping down food between meetings and then crashing out in front of the TV with a takeaway in the evenings.
But eating this way can play havoc with our digestive system.
Follow some basic rules to prevent problems:
- Do not rush your food. Take the time to eat slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful well.
- Do not overeat. Reduce the size of your portions at mealtimes, or try eating 4 to 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones.
- Eat regularly and try not to skip meals.
- Avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed. Eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
- Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.
Can Anxiety Cause Stomach Pain And Diarrhea
Diarrhea and stomach upset are common anxiety symptoms. Chronic anxiety may lead to lingering digestive problems. Acute anxiety can cause immediate distress.
If you have ever had to run to the bathroom during or after a nerve-wracking experience, you know what this is like. You may also recognize this symptom if you have struggled with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
Many people with IBS also suffer from anxiety. IBS symptoms, such as diarrhea, tend to worsen when youre under stress.
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Can Anxiety Cause Stomach And Bowel Problems
If youre feeling nervous and having some stomach pains, there usually isnt anything to worry about. Gastrointestinal discomfort is among the most common physical symptoms associated with anxiety, so that knot in your stomach shouldnt be a reason to add any extra stress to your plate.
However, if your stomach pains dont subside after the anxieties are gone, you should consider to see if you would benefit from having a consultation with a gastroenterologista doctor whose specialty is treating the GI tract and liver.
How To React To Separation Anxiety Symptoms
If your puppy is destructive when you leave the house, dont react angrily. This could increase their anxiety and make their symptoms worse. It could even encourage their behavior because they are desperate for your attention, and dont forget, its not their fault.
You should never punish a dog with separation anxiety. Instead, you should show them that this kind of behavior doesnt get any attention, but when they do behave well, shower them with praise. To stop separation anxiety behaviors altogether, you will need to do some separation training.
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Can Diarrhea Cause Weight Loss
Diarrhea is usually caused by bacterial infections or stress and lasts several days. It can become dangerous when it lasts for weeks or more because it encourages water loss in the body. People with diarrhea can lose a lot of weight if they’ve been sick for a while, but they’re losing mostly water weight.
Sometimes Abdominal Pain Is Physical And Mental
If you have a gastrointestinal condition such as IBS, Crohns disease, or ulcerative colitis, stress or anxiety can exacerbate your symptoms. This can make your physical and mental health even more inextricably linked.
This relationship can be cyclical, Sperling says: Stress or anxiety can prompt gut inflammation and intestinal spasms, leading to more GI symptoms, which can just translate to more stress or anxiety. Its pretty unfair. If you have a GI condition and feel like youre stuck in this rhythm, talk to your doctor to see if theres a way to make your gut and your brain get along a little better so that you dont have to suffer.
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Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea
Frequent, constant, or severe abdominal pain and diarrhea may indicate a disease or a more serious medical issue. Diarrhea that gets progressively worse and is bloody can also be a sign of a more serious issue. Possible causes of abdominal pain and diarrhea include:
The above conditions and disorders can cause inflammation in different parts of your digestive tract, like the stomach and intestines. When your digestive system is inflamed, you might have cramps and trouble with typical digestive processes. This usually results in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for more than a week or keep coming back may be a sign of an intestinal disease or disorder. Talk with your doctor if youve experienced these symptoms for more than a week or on a reoccurring basis.
Can Stress Cause Stomach Issues Tips For Calming A Nervous Stomach
Stomach in knots, butterflies in your belly, or just a plain nervous can stress cause stomach issues? No matter how you describe it, theres nothing fun about having a nervous stomach. But even less fun is trying to determine if an underlying anxiety issue is causing your belly acheor worse, a serious underlying health condition.
If youre experiencing that you think might be caused by stress, keep reading to learn can stress cause stomach issues?
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When Is Stomach Pain Most Likely To Occur
If you have anxiety, stomach pain can occur anytime even when no anxiety is present. However, many people experience stomach pain during panic attacks.
The exact link between an anxiety attack and stomach pain is not clear, other than the fact that during a panic attack, your body is under a considerable amount of stress, and your hormones are often on overdrive. Also, those with anxiety attacks are prone to hyperventilation, which may lead to symptoms that create stomach pain.
Identifying Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you continuously experience diarrhea when in distress, it would be safe to rule out IBS. This condition can cause a person to experience diarrhea when they feel anxious.
Experts arent exactly sure what causes the condition, but stress and anxiety have been noticed to trigger irritable bowel syndrome flare-ups.
It is also speculated that people who have IBS may have an extremely sensitive colon. The level of sensitivity can increase the chances of having gastrointestinal tract symptoms, mainly when a person eats specific foods, experiences anxiety, or any other emotional complications.
Many people suffer from both IBS and anxiety. Studies have shown that irritable bowel syndrome commonly co-manifest with depression and anxiety. Living with any of the condition can elevate a persons risk for the other, and also increase symptoms they already have.
General signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Worsen symptoms when you smoke, take too much caffeine or eat some foods such as wheat, dairy, red wine, and others.
- Discomfort abs pain in the abdomen that keeps coming back or doesnt go away
If you have been experiencing these signs for over three months or more, you may have IBS.
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Can Anxiety Or Stress Cause Ibs
Stress and anxiety are also known to be a trigger for long-term conditions affecting the digestive system, IBS is often caused by stress, and flare ups of inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohns or Colitis, can be triggered by stress.
If you have IBS, youll probably know that feeling stressed and anxious can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Before a big event or on a day where you have to meet lots of work deadlines, you might experience cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation.
When To Seek Medical Help
Most people understand from their own life experiences that diarrhea is a very common affliction, so having diarrhea or stomach pain alone probably isnt enough to require medical attention. When the diarrhea and pain last longer than three days, however, it may indicate a larger problem. Moreover, if the diarrhea and abdominal pain accompany fever, bloody stool, or any other severe symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. For small children, the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system , diarrhea alone can be dangerous and should be diagnosed by a medical professional. If you have been experiencing diarrhea and stomach pain for more than a few days and are concerned about an underlying condition, contact us at Cary Gastro to set up an appointment to meet with a gastroenterologist. Our helpful staff will be happy to get you checked out so you can get the treatment you need.
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Why Does Anxiety Cause Diarrhea
Many of the exact causes of anxiety and its symptoms are still being determined. However, the main reason that anxiety-induced diarrhea occurs is because of the way the body is reacting to the “fight or flight” system. The fight or flight system occurs whenever your body perceives danger, whether real or not.
During anxiety, your body makes the decision to either stay and fight the potential threat or to flee from the situation. While this innate mechanism was helpful for keeping human beings alive and out of unnecessary harm, the system may be triggered for no clear reason at all.
Anxiety is the activation of the fight or flight system when no dangers are present. When your body is in overdrive, it causes a surge of adrenaline to redistribute your blood flow to make sure that your key organs are taken care of. This means that blood flows more to your brain, heart, lungs, and muscles. During this time, your gut does not receive as much blood flow as it normally would, leading to poor stool health and intestines that are not processing food properly.
This decreased blood flow to your gut causes it to slow down. At this point, you might be asking, Well if my gut is slowing down, then why do I have to go? It turns out that some of these stress hormones can cause your large intestine to just evacuate . This is what can lead to the symptom of diarrhea whenever you are extremely anxious.
Stress And Bowel Conditions
Stress can especially have an impact on people with irritable bowel syndrome . Researchers have found that people with IBS have colons that are more susceptible to stress. Their intestines seem to react more quickly and in greater response to stress than a person who doesnt have IBS.
Research estimates that 50 to 90 percent of people who receive treatment for IBS also have anxiety or depression. People with IBS can often benefit from taking medication to reduce stress and anxiety.
Stress can also have a profound effect on people with inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis. Because these conditions can damage the intestines, its important to avoid flare-ups whenever possible.
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Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed
You should be seeing your primary care physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.
If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.
Stop Smoking To Prevent Reflux
Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of the food pipe and allow acid from the stomach to travel in the wrong direction back up, a process known as reflux.
Reflux causes the symptoms of heartburn, and can bring on or aggravate stomach ulcers and inflammatory conditions of the bowel.
Smoking is also an important risk factor for stomach cancer.
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Try Calming Diffuser Oils Or Incenses
Herbal incenses, or essential oils used as aromatic diffusers, have been known to help some people with anxiety.
Purchase products with calming herbs like chamomile, lavender, vetiver, or rose. Follow the products directions. Combine this with some relaxing time and space for yourself when dealing with a nervous stomach.
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Does Stress Cause Diarrhea
While stress is not the same as anxiety, it too can result in diarrhea. Everyone responds to stress in their own way, whether it is abdominal cramping, upset stomach, loss of sleep, fatigue, loss of appetite, overeating, and even decreasing your immune system – making you more susceptible to common colds.
So if you experience abdominal cramping whenever stressed, you could be more prone to having diarrhea. Stress is known for causing muscle tension, which may lead to your gastrointestinal system not digesting food effectively and causing an increased effect on defecation.
Both stress and anxiety are also known triggers of irritable bowel syndrome . But keep in mind that having anxiety and/or stress with diarrhea does not equate to a person being diagnosed with IBS. It is not exactly clear why that link occurs, but a person prone to IBS may find that it flares when they are under increased stress or pressure.
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Tips For Managing Stress
There are several different tips for managing stress-related diarrhea. However, here are a few of the most important ones:
- Talk to your doctor. If you have any risk factors for stress-related diarrhea, its important to talk to your doctor about how to best manage your stress levels. There are a number of different treatments available, and your doctor can help you find the best one for you.
- Identify your triggers. If you know what causes your stress, its easier to manage it. Try to avoid or limit exposure to these triggers as much as possible.
- Practice relaxation techniques. There are a number of different relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress. These include things like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. It can also help to improve your overall health.
- Get enough sleep.Sleep is important for both physical and mental health. If youre not getting enough sleep, its more difficult to manage stress.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet can help to improve your overall health and well-being. Its also important to make sure that youre getting enough of the right nutrients, such as fiber and probiotics.
If youre struggling to manage your stress-related diarrhea, its important to talk to your doctor. There are several different treatments available, and your doctor can help you find the best one for you.