Anytime you have felt stressed, anxious or even excited you sometimes feel something in your stomach. Especially in more pressured situations where emotions are heightened, it's undoubtable that people can be affected. The question is - can stress cause or be related to acid reflux and is their any correlation between the two?
Well the simple and fast answer is a resounding yes. It’s not just something that’s in your head.
When you are stressed this affects your stomach and your whole digestive system. This leads to your stomach becoming upset or having feelings like being woozy and nauseous.
There is in fact even some evidence regarding this. There was a study done where over 12,000 people with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) were questioned and over half of them reported that stress was the biggest factor that worsened symptoms, even when people were on medication, this still happened.
In fact, it seems surprisingly common when some people start to suffer from more severe acid reflux like GERD - this quite often aligns with a stressful time in that person’s life where they were under a lot of mental and emotional stress.
While there isn’t too much to back up the correlation scientifically most people can tell and see from their own experiences that stress makes acid reflux worse. In fact, for certain people if they can stop or lessen stress in their lives, they will greatly improve their acid reflux symptoms as well.
If you have acid reflux with symptoms like heartburn and treat the problem with things like baking soda/medication, while they can help, perhaps finding a method to stop your stress or lower it could be even more effective than any medication could be.
The next obvious thing you might be thinking is well how can I help my stress? Of course, we all know there often isn’t a simple solution to stopping stress though there are a host of things that can be implemented and incorporated into our lives to make things better over time. Let me give you a few suggestions:
Exercise – Probably one of the best suggestions is to do some exercise. The reason exercise can be great is because it gives you something else to do that helps take your mind off what you may be stressed about. Exercise of any kind also releases "feel good" hormones and other chemicals like endorphins and dopamine. It also helps your muscles stretch out and this helps loosen any muscle tension you may have. For exercise you don’t need to do anything too extreme, even a simple 30-minute walk everyday could work wonders to help your stress.
Meditation – I know meditation may seem like something that can’t help, and I used to think that way myself, but it has now become mainstream and is often recommended by doctors. Luckily for me I decided to try it before this recognition. It really does help; some simple breathing exercises help you feel calm and take your mind off whatever may be causing stress in your life. I fully recommend giving it a go.
Sleep – My final suggestion for helping stress is to simply get enough sleep. When you are sleeping it allows your mind and body to relax and recharge which provides increased resistance to stress. If you suffer from nighttime acid reflux you can elevate your head which should help reduce acid reflux symptoms as well.
In Conclusion - We know stress can affect the body in many negative ways, acid reflux being one of them.
Just keep in mind that stress can be helped. While it may take some time, if you are persistent and continue trying, your stress should lessen and your acid reflux as well!