Learn About Mechanisms Behind Stress Or Anxiety Causing Acid Reflux
You may know full-well that acid reflux can be caused or triggered by anxiety and stress. But just how does this work?
Stress may cause increased vagal nerve stimulation in the brain, which may lead to increased acid production in the stomach, says Jonathan Zinberg, MD, chief of gastroenterology at South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, NY.
This was his first thought regarding this under-researched phenomenon.
Dr. Zinberg then explains, There are many theories regarding stress and heartburn. Some say that increased cortisol/epinephrine leads to less blood flow to the stomach, with slow digestion and emptying of the stomach, with subsequent reflux.
He continues, Some point to decreased prostaglandin in the stomach, which helps to protect the lining of the stomach .
Others blame stress for causing general poor habits for causing worse reflux .
The Link Between Anxiety And Gerd
While anxiety is not listed as a cause of GERD, research published in 2013 showed the incidence of anxiety in women with GERD is higher than for those in the general population. Also, people with both GERD and anxiety may have more frequent symptoms and more severe symptoms, leading to a reduced quality of life.
Anxiety may play a role in the development of GERD and in worsening of symptoms, although researchers aren’t entirely clear how.
Some experts believe that the brain chemical cholecystokinin , which has been linked to both panic disorders and gastrointestinal disorders, may play a role in the prevalence of GERD in people with anxiety disorders. There are theories that anxiety can slow digestion, increase stomach acid, or result in increased muscle tension that can put pressure on the stomach.
Another possibility or contributing factor may be that when people are anxious they tend to engage in behaviors that may trigger or worsen acid reflux, like smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating fatty or fried foods. These can be soothing behaviors that can then lead to the pain and discomfort of heartburn.
The reverse may also be true as GERD symptoms, such as chest pain and trouble swallowing, can be worrisome and increase anxiety or trigger a panic attack. It’s important to remember that an association does not imply causation.
Here Are Two Signs Your Abdominal Pain Could Be Mental
Whether your stomach cramps strike every time you have to take a flight or before big work presentations, it could be a sign that youre so stressed its affecting your gut.
Theres a clear connection between the brain and our emotions and how our body feels, says Sperling. Realizing that your abdominal pain always crops up around moments of fear, stress, or anxiety can help you figure out that your emotions are behind the discomfort.
If you already know you have anxiety but are having a hard time managing this symptom, talk to your doctor or therapist to see if any tweaks in your treatment may help. If youre not sure your abdominal pain is connected with changes in your emotions, consider keeping a journal for a few weeks to chart how you feel and how your pain comes and goes in response.
In the event that your GI issues do seem tied with mental health concerns like anxiety, a mental health professional may be able to help you through methods like cognitive behavioral therapy . This form of therapy aims to help people identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to live healthier, happier lives. If youre interested in trying it, heres a guide on how to find an affordable therapist.
While undeniably horrible in the moment, panic attacks are highly treatable with medication, therapy such as CBT, and coping mechanisms like deep breathing, according to the Mayo Clinic. See your doctor or therapist for help if you think youre having panic attacks.
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What Causes Heartburn And How Can I Get Rid Of It
Heartburn is caused when stomach acid enters the esophagus. Typically, the LES opens like a one-way valve that allows food into the stomach. However, at times the LES relaxes and allows stomach juices to flow back up into the esophagus, exposing it to the harsh acids in your stomach. Physicians refer to this as gastroesophageal reflux.
For the occasional heartburn, you can try antacids or H2 blockers. Antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach, but they only provide immediate, temporary relief. H2 blockers reduce acid production and relief can last for 12 hours. While they can both work for occasional heartburn, if you have frequent heartburn, you may find that the relief does not last long enough. Proton Pump Inhibitors can provide 24-hour relief with a single pill each day.* You can also make a few lifestyle changes to ease your symptoms and reduce the chances of heartburn.
Can Stress Lead To Heartburn Indigestionwhether You Are Old Or Young Many People Feel The Effects Of Stress
Whilst a small amount of stress can be good and help to push you to do something, life in this day and age can be too stressful for some.
It can be a result of all sorts of day-to-day events or issues that you are faced with – anything from problems or arguments with good friends, financial worries, having too many things to do or feeling under pressure to perform well at work.
In your mind, stress may cause you to feel worried, anxious or irritable as well as leading to mental health problems which can get in the way of everyday life. It is also linked to insomnia which can become a vicious cycle as one will affect the other and vice versa if you dont sleep well, you may feel stressed and if youre stressed, you may struggle to sleep properly.
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See A Doctor For Severe Stomach Problems And Commit To Your Anxiety
If your stomach problems have become a serious issue, it’s safe to contact a doctor. There are some harmless issues that can lead to persistent stomach problems, and medical intervention can be valuable.
But you also need to commit to curing your anxiety. It’s the only way to guarantee anxiety stomach problems go away forever.
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Indigestion Caused Due To Anxiety
People that are suffering from persistent anxiety are likely to suffer from stomach problems like indigestion issues. However, the prime mechanism that leads to indigestion during anxiety is still vague, but it is thought to occur from the following reasons.
- Adrenaline Adrenaline is the chemical that is released excessively during anxiety. This chemical compound is liable to make changes in the processing of nutrients, especially the glucose and when the body experiences a change in nutrient processing, it affects the digestion severely and hence leading to stomach problems.
- Neurotransmitters and Hormones As already mentioned, anxiety, digestion and gut is mainly affected by the similar neurotransmitters and hormones. So, when a person is suffering from anxiety, the balance of neurotransmitter and hormones in body gets disturbed, which leads to stomach discomfort and other stomach problems.
- Stomach Acid The stomach acid is also affected during anxiety. The acid reflux is more commonly affected when the person suffers from severe anxiety. The stomach starts releasing excessive stomach acid during stress and anxiety and this increases the production of stomach acid, which causes heartburn and poor digestion.
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What May Be Causing Your Low Stomach Acid Levels
- Hiatal hernia
- Eating too much, too quickly, too late
- Relaxation of esophageal sphincter
- High fat, fried foods-delays emptying of stomach
- Coffee, caffeine, carbonated beverages, spicy foods
- Regular use of antacids-causes low HCL, B12 deficiency, mineral deficiency, immune system compromised
Recent Research Has Shown A Connection Between Stress And Acid Reflux Even Anxiety And Depression Have Been Observed To Increase The Risk Of Acidity
Is making your child eat healthy meals on time the biggest task of your day? Did your child end up sleeping on an empty stomach again or skip a meal? Or are your meal timings not fixed at home? Well, it may seem insignificant, but these small actions can make your child suffer from acidity at a young age.
The carefree attitude with which we associate childhood is only for kids now, and not so much for the parents. In the current scenario, parents need to be highly careful and attentive towards their children to ensure they lead a happy, healthy life. Given our lifestyles, when it comes to food, sleep, digital gadgets and physical activity, more and more health problems are being encountered in the younger population.
For instance, complaints of heartburn, chest pain, gastric issues, acidity or similar symptoms have often been a common complaint among adults. However, this is no longer limited to adults but is being observed among children as well and more so among teenagers. This is becoming a rising concern for parents as the onus lies on them.
Some of the common symptoms observed in children or teenagers suffering from acidity are:
· Recurrent vomiting
· Refusal to eat or difficulty eating
· Crying regularly and being fussy especially related to feeding
· Complaints of a sour taste in the mouth, particularly in the morning
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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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How Stress Leads To Gerd
Stress in itself may not cause GERD, but it can aggravate your symptoms and severity.
Stress-related behavioural changes that lead to an increase in GERD symptoms
- Excessive caffeine intake in the form of coffee and tea
- Dietary changes like eating oily and spicy foods at irregular timings
- Less physical activity
- Inadequate sleep
Studies show that whenever we are stressed or anxious, we tend to experience more severe symptoms as we become more sensitive to gastric acids. It has to be noted that under stressful or anxious situations, one does not produce more gastric acid but becomes sensitive to even small amounts of gastric acids resulting in symptoms.
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Coping Strategies To Manage Stress:
1. Incorporate Exercise to your routine
Exercise releases a natural feel-good hormone that in turn makes you feel relaxed and most importantly helps you forget your stressors to some extent.
2. Stay away from trigger foods
For a few people, chocolate may trigger acidity and for others coffee or spicy and oily food. Know your trigger foods that trigger your acidity symptoms and avoid consuming them.
3. Get enough sleep
Stress and sleep are interrelated, if you dont get enough sleep, stress hormones get released thus resulting in stress the next day. So, getting enough sleep must be your first priority as inadequate sleep also aggravates your symptoms.
4. Relaxation techniques
Try relaxation techniques like yoga, tai chi and meditation.
Does Having An Empty Stomach Cause Bad Breath
When a person avoids food and has an empty stomach, saliva production is reduced, which is needed to remove bacteria from the tongue, gums, and teeth. As a result, the process of eliminating bacteria can be disrupted, leading to bad breath.
Having an empty stomach can cause stress due to increased stomach acidity, which can also lead to dry mouth. As a result, there is an increase in more and more bad breath. Bad breath due to an empty stomach often has a yeasty or toasty odor.
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The Way You Cope With Stress Could Be Making Your Acid Reflux Worse
When we become stressed out we can find ourselves unable to cope mentally and emotionally. Some of us may turn to drinking alcohol or eating fatty foods as a way of comforting ourselves.
While these actions may provide some degree of comfort they will in the long run make the acid reflux worse.
For example, lets take alcohol. This substance irritates the lining of your stomach and intestinal tract. It also destroys a lot of your friendly bacteria, which are essential for a healthy digestion.
Alcohol can also relax the functioning the lower esophageal sphincter making it stay open for longer periods.
Comfort foods in the form of fried foods for example, are hard for your digestive system to digest. Your stomach will need to produce more gastric acid to break it down and this can increase the risk of more acid reflux.
Ironically, the worst thing you can do is eat when you are stressed out because your digestion is not going to work.
So, you need to be in a relaxed state when you eat to enable your stomach to digest your food properly.
Acquire the habit of taking time out no matter how busy you are to relax yourself when you are eating.
This can involve finding a quiet place where you can eat and contemplate or have a meal with people whose company you enjoy.
How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath From Stomach Acid
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when stomach acidity flows frequently into the tube that connects the stomach and mouth. This acid reflection can irritate the lungs in your esophagus.
Lifestyle changes and simple home remedies can prevent reflux, which can help you get rid of bad breath and keep your breath fresh.
Here are some lifestyle changes and some simple home remedies tips for it:
- If you are a person of smoking, you should stop smoking. Not only does smoking cause bad breath, but nicotine products cause LES to relax and allow acid to reflect into your esophagus
- If you fall asleep after eating, it is best to go to bed at least 2 to 3 hours later
- Avoid carbonated beverages
- If you are an obese person, lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid strenuous exercise for several hours after eating
The Bottom Line
Please be advised that all of the information on this article is provided for informational purposes only. So if you have any doubts about your health, always remember to seek advice from your qualified healthcare professional.
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How Does Low Stomach Acid Cause Mood Disorders
Many of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut. You need amino acids from your food to create your NTs. Decreased stomach acid means decreased amino acids since you need stomach acid to break down proteins into amino acids, which thus impacts the function of your NTs which can lead to mood issues.
A study I read showed that those with psychiatric disorders report more heartburn than the control group. The reflux symptoms in the study were not associated with medication. Is it just a correlation or could the stomach issues be at the root of the psychiatric disorders?
The solution is first to determine if low stomach acid is an issue for you and address this, then address overall gut and microbiome health. While working on this, it may be useful to take a product that includes all the essential amino acids to help support your NTs. Once gut health and stomach acid levels have been supported, one can discontinue taking the amino acids
Pain Is Another Way Your Brain Communicates
If you feel discomfort identifying and talking about distressing emotions, like sadness, anger, and shame, this could cause feelings to manifest differently in the body.
If youre experiencing any of these physical symptoms for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner. If you dont already have a provider, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 14.8 million American adults each year.
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, exposure to childhood stress or trauma, and brain chemistry. People with depression often need professional help, like psychotherapy and medication, to fully recover.
So at your appointment, if you suspect these physical symptoms might be more than surface level, request to be screened for depression and anxiety. This way your healthcare provider can connect you with the help you need.
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Can Stress Cause Acid Reflux
Do you find your symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease acting up at the worst times like during a job interview or right before your daughters wedding? Most people who experience heartburn might stay away from Uncle Neds spicy chili and pass up orange juice with breakfast. But they may be less aware of how meeting the parents for the first time or giving a presentation may affect their symptoms.
According to some studies and surveys, stress may very well be another trigger for heartburn. But with some effective coping techniques, you can calm your stomach even during the most trying times.
Gastrointestinal Problems In The Military
Gastrointestinal problems are also prevalent in military personnel, says Mark Riddle, MD, DrPH, a researcher at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md. Servicemen and servicewomen, he says, “are under a lot of stress as you can imagine during deployment.”
Riddle says the fourth leading cause of visits to VA Medical Centers is gastrointestinal disorders.
To find out more, Riddle and his colleagues evaluated data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System, identifying nearly 32,000 cases of gastrointestinal problems in active duty U.S. military personnel between 1999 and 2007. Among the problems were constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome , and indigestion after an infection of the stomach and intestines .
When Riddle looked for links between the past gastrointestinal problems and current ones, he found an association between a history of gastroenteritis — infection of the stomach and intestines caused by bacteria, virus, or other organisms — and all types of gastrointestinal problems later.
The highest risk was for diarrhea and IBS. Having a history of gastroenteritis boosted the risk of diarrhea sixfold, and of IBS nearly fourfold. The increased risk for constipation or indigestion was less, each about twofold.
The gastrointestinal problems persist, Riddle found. Nearly 30% of the military with problems were still getting care two years after the diagnosis.
”We are developing vaccines to hopefully prevent ,” he says.
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