Understanding The Link Between Stress And Stomach Aches In Children
Abdominal pain and stress are related in many ways. Having abdominal pain can cause stress, especially when it leads to missed school or other activities. But more often, stress causes abdominal pain, or makes it worse. Do you ever have butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous? Did you ever feel sick to your stomach when you got some bad news? Children feel the same things, but often cant tell where those feelings come from. It took a long a time to understand why my stomach hurt every morning when I turned the corner to my middle school.
Scientists can explain why we have these feelings: the stomach and intestine have their own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system. These nerves respond to the same stress hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains do. We also know that stress and fatigue decrease pain thresholds. This means that a small change, like the passage of a gas bubble, can feel much worse when a person is stressed, tired, and run down. When a person is well-rested and feeling good, he or she might not even notice the gas bubble.
Stress-related eating can worsen pain, too. Which are the comfort foods your child prefers? Are they high in lactose or fructose, such as milk, apple juice, macaroni and cheese, or ice cream? Many people have a poor ability to digest lactose or fructose. Although these conditions are not dangerous, they can be very uncomfortable, causing pain, cramping, bloating, and even diarrhea.
What Anxiety Chest Pain Feels Like
Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms arent even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.
Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:
- sharp, shooting pain
- an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
- burning, numbness, or a dull ache
- stabbing pressure
- chest tension or tightness
If you dont have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume theyre having a heart attack and go to the hospitals emergency department for treatment.
An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.
If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors dont find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.
A Natural Part Of The Fight
Anxiety is a natural reaction, and in small doses, its actually healthy. It is thought that some of the symptoms of anxiety including nausea developed to tell your brain that there was something dangerous or new in the vicinity so that you would make a smart decision regarding your next action.
When you are under stress but not facing any present danger, nausea can be especially distressing. When faced with stress, the body goes into the “fight or flight mode,” triggering the autonomic nervous system specifically activating the sympathetic nervous system and inhibiting the parasympathetic nervous system.
This action releases a hormone called epinephrine, which is often referred to as “adrenaline.” Additional stress may trigger other adrenal-related hormones. These hormones alter the stomach lining and food digestion take blood away from the digestive system and cause hyperventilation , dizziness, and more.
Stress can also cause muscle tension in your abdomen, and that added tension may squeeze your stomach in a way that leads to nausea. The gut also has an abundance of neurotransmitter receptors and is highly connected to the brain. It is possible that the way anxiety alters neurotransmitter levels in the brain may affect the gut as well.
Finally, during fight or flight, digestion is inhibited, which may affect how you process food and stomach acid and may lead to nausea.
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Take Stock Of The Situation
Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.
Are you worried about something you cant control? Are you fearful of an outcome thats unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you cant control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.
Use A Heating Pad Or Hot Water Bottle
Heat is a simple but effective remedy for stomach pain.
If youre wondering how to get rid of cramps fast, try this tip first.
Grab an electric blanket, heating pad, or hot water bottle. You want something thats very warm, but not so hot it will burn you.
Get comfortable and place your heating pad over the part of your stomach that hurts.
It might take 10-15 minutes to start feeling the soothing effects of the heat.
Dont have a heating pad? You can easily make one with some dry rice and a pair of socks.
Find a pair of socks that dont contain any synthetic material, and pour a cup or two of dry rice into one.
Tie a knot in the top and microwave it for a minute or two. Reheat your makeshift heating pad whenever it starts to cool down.
You can also check out our selection of Far Infrared Ray mats here.
Our FIR mats have so many more benefits than regular heating pads
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Beat Stress To Ease Tummy Troubles
You may have noticed a feeling of unease in your stomach during times of stress. That’s because anxiety and worry can upset the delicate balance of digestion.
In some people, stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation, while in others it speeds it up, causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo. Some people lose their appetite completely.
A solution is to avoid eating when you’re feeling very anxious, stressed or unhappy.
It also helps your digestion if you avoid arguing at the dinner table, as getting angry can put you off your food or make eating harder. Try to keep mealtimes happy and relaxed.
How To Cure Nausea Due To Anxiety
In the case of nausea due to anxiety, the nausea itself isnt dangerous. As long as you have ruled out other health problems and your doctor or therapist has confirmed that anxiety is causing your nausea, it is helpful to know that your body is not in any serious danger. Instead, to control your nausea, you need to manage your anxiety. Chances are your body is experiencing a great deal of stress related to persistent anxiety.
Several strategies for fighting anxiety include the following:
These are all quick strategies for reducing anxiety nausea. However, fighting anxiety is a long-term issue. If you experience a great deal of anxiety at home, at work, at school, or in social situations, then you need to learn effective ways of controlling it. Once your anxiety is managed, the likelihood of nausea will decrease.
Nausea can be caused by multiple issues that may or may not be related to anxiety, including changes in neurotransmitter levels, stress to the gut, blurry eyes, and more. Anxiety can also make a person more sensitive to feelings of nausea, so mild nausea feels more intense. Walking, drinking water, and light eating can be helpful, but anxiety reduction will be the only way to stop anxiety-related nausea.
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Drink Warm Lemon Water
If you are wondering what to do when your stomach hurts just drink a cup of warm lemon water to get instant relief.
Drinking warm lemon water helps in increasing the production of hydrochloric acid that helps in the faster breakdown of food. The citric acid and malic acid amply present in the lemon improve digestion and indigestion. These acids in lemon also help to prevent harmful intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Take one cup of warm water and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of honey in it for drinking. It is good to drink lemon juice every morning and when you have stomach pain caused by indigestion.
Drinking lemon water has several other health benefits, especially for weight loss and healthy bowel movements.
Relieving Stomach Aches With Medicine
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How To Get Rid Of Stomach Cramps
Dont eat solid food while you have the cramps or for a few hours following. When you resume eating again, eat simple items such as rice, applesauce, bananas, toast, or plain crackers.
- Dont eat dairy products, acidic foods such as tomatoes, and fast food .
Eat small meals. Large meals can also strengthen intestinal contractions. Aim to eat small meals frequently throughout your day so as to not strain your system.
Avoid any complex drinks, alcohol, or any caffeinated or carbonated drink. Sip water or clear fluids.
Avoid fatty foods. Fatty foods contain substances that can exaggerate the strength of intestinal contractions, thus resulting in increased stomach ache and cramping. Aim to eat low-fat meals, avoiding anything greasy, fried or fatty.
Avoid overloading your digestive system with food that will add to the digestive burden. Keep things simple for a while until the cramps pass if you experience any vomiting, dont eat until 6 hours have passed.
Go to the restroom. It may seem impossible, but sometimes all a stomach ache is asking for is a good, solid bowel movement.
Try to exercise the cramps away. Take a walk around your house, or in the garden. This can be helpful when you find that sitting or lying down is uncomfortable. Its not advised to walk too far from a bathroom, though, just in case the cramps are signaling the onset of diarrhea.
How To Talk With Kids About Stomachaches
If youre a parent or caregiver, its important to talk with your child about the stomachaches to find out whats going on. Even if you think your child is faking it, something real is happening that needs to be addressed. It might be trouble with reading or other difficulties with schoolwork. Or maybe its social anxiety related to bullying.
Its also important to talk about the snowball effect. Staying home might seem like a good idea in the short term, but help your child understand why missing school today can make it harder to catch up tomorrow.
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How Do Doctors Find The Cause Of A Bellyache
Your doctor will first ask you some questions, examine you, and maybe do some tests. Your doctor may suggest you take some medicine or might give you special instructions for eating to help your body heal the bellyache.
If it turns out that you have appendicitis, you will need an operation called an appendectomy .
If stress is behind your stomach problems, your doctor may recommend a specialist, such as a psychologist. These experts can help kids figure out the source of the stress and help them come up with some ideas for how to fix the problems or handle them better.
How Emotions Affect Our Body
Why do our feelings sometimes make us sick?
Our lives are filled with emotions, from anger to shame, fear to delight, says Tracy A. Dennis, PhD, associate professor in the department of psychology at Hunter College, the City University of New York.
These physiological and neuroendocrine changes associated with emotion influence all aspects of our body, including the digestive system, Dennis tells WebMD. These physical responses can start and stop quite suddenly and be very intense.
Dennis says its the intensity of emotions that can send our body into overdrive, producing immediate gastrointestinal distress — stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
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Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a perfect solution to your quest on how to get rid of stomach pain.
The acidic and antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar help in improving digestion and dispelling waste. Drinking apple cider vinegar removes indigestion and prevents gastritis that leads to abdominal pain.
Take a glass of warm water and add 3 teaspoons of ACV and drink 20 minutes before you have the meal or when you have stomach pain. Drinking ACV also has several other health benefits like weight loss, clearing sinuses, getting rid of sore throat, wart removal, teeth whitening, and bad body odor removal.
Heres A List Of The Top 7 Home Remedies For Stomach Ache:
1. Drink Lemon Tea
Lemon is an excellent source of Vitamin C which is a powerful anti-oxidant that further helps in detoxifying your body and soothes many ailments. The acid present in lemon juice stimulates your stomach to produce more acid, which gives your digestion a boost and fight all the stomach troubles.
Peppermint is extremely useful for the betterment of the digestion process. The antispasmodic effect of peppermint on the muscles in the digestive tract helps relieve pain caused by gas. The compounds that give mint its fresh, crisp flavor have natural painkilling properties. Herb present in peppermint soothes intestinal and stomach contradictions, prevent digestive muscles from tensing which further cause nausea and stomach aches.
3. Drink Rice Water/Tea
It may sound bizarre, but the leftover water after you cook rice has many benefits and can help you to get rid of upper stomach pain. This is because when you boil rice in water, it releases compounds that can accumulate inside your stomach, which reduces the pain of ulcers or gastritis. It is extremely beneficial when you have diarrhea. To add some flavor, you can put some lemon juice or honey.
Rice water helps in curing Stomach ache
4. Chamomile Tea
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Breaking Down The Differences In Symptoms
According to a study in PLOS One about pediatric functional abdominal pain disorders, chronic abdominal pain is a common problem in childhood, with prevalence rates ranging from 0.319% in school-aged children in the United States and Europe. However, in almost 90% of these children, there is no diagnosable disease tied to their symptoms.
People with functional abdominal pain have a hypersensitive nervous system, due to early life adverse events, previous surgeries, acute infections or food intolerances, said Pattamanuch. If we think of the brain as a stereo receiver and speakers, it helps us understand how the gut-brain axis works. The gut reports pain to the spine, which relays the pain signals to the brain. Children under stress, whether it be physical or emotional, will often have the volume dial turned up on their stereo receiver. How the brain receives and interprets the pain signal is highly tied to our emotional state.
In Pattamanuchs practice, she sees many children with functional abdominal pain.
These kids are still eating and gaining weight normally. They may experience pain, but overall they are functioning well, going to school and sleeping at night.
In an initial visit with a child who is facing abdominal pain issues, with symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea and/or vomiting, Pattamanuch always starts by asking parents if they think stress is a factor. This includes home, school and social stressors.
Settle Your Stomach With Baking Soda
No need to pop an antacid when you feel some heartburn coming on.
Baking soda is the active ingredient in most commercial antacids, so if youve got a box on hand, you can settle your stomach in seconds.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into some warm water and drink it. You can do this several times a day if your stomach pain comes back.
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How To Stop Anxiety From Causing Further Back Pain
Under the assumption that your back pain is caused by anxiety, treating that back pain does require a focus on the pain itself. Unfortunately, while treating anxiety can reduce your back pain in the long term , breaking the cycle of back pain depends in large part on your ability to also fight the back pain itself. Consider the following tips:
These are all traditional ways to deal with back pain unrelated to anxiety, but they’re still effective because once back pain starts, it needs to be stopped using traditional methods.
But of course, controlling your back pain is only step one. You will still need to learn ways to cope with anxiety so that you can stop your anxiety back pain from occurring again.
Anxiety causes muscle tension, inactivity, changes in posture, and other changes that can all lead to back pain. The pain is real, so over the counter painkillers, stretching, and similar treatments might be needed to eliminate the pain. In the long term, it becomes important to stop the anxiety.
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