Can Stress Lead to Heartburn & Indigestion?

Can Stress Lead to Heartburn & Indigestion?

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. Whether you are old or young, many people feel the effects of stress. 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 don’t sleep well, you may feel stressed and if you’re stressed, you may struggle to sleep properly.

 

Apart from how it effects people’s minds, did you know that stress can also affect your body? Stress can cause headaches, premature ageing and even hair loss. The stomach and digestive system are also highly effected by stress levels.

 

So how does all this stress lead to heartburn and indigestions? Well, the relationship between stress and digestive problems is not an obvious one but did you know stress can increase acid production in your stomach[1]? Having pressure on your stomach is also a big trigger of indigestion so with one of the symptoms of stress being muscle tension,[2] it’s easy to see the correlation.

 

If excess stomach acid caused by either of these is able to rise up into your oesophagus, you will start to feel the pain of heartburn in your chest area. Apart from this, stress can affect the digestive system and when food is not digested properly, acid can also build up.

 

If you are suffering with heartburn, Gaviscon Double Action will help you in the short term. Suitable from 12 years old. Always read the label. For more long term solutions, learning how to manage and reduce your level of stress will not only to help you feel happier and in a better mood, but it could also improve your health!

 

Sleep

Sleeping well when you are stressed can be very important as it’s a natural stress reducer[3], the only problem is that being stressed can make it hard to sleep. Make it as easy for yourself as possible by creating a comfortable environment to sleep in. Be sure that the room is dark and warm and give yourself enough time to get a good night’s sleep in.

 

Exercise

As well as being good for your health and wellbeing, physical activity has been proven to have a whole host of other benefits and one of them is relieving stress[4]. Exercise also helps to boost endorphin levels (which are our feel good hormones) and also gives us a sense of achievement. Find something that you enjoy doing, whether it’s running outside, swimming or yoga.

 

Eat Well

Eating well is a great defence against stress as it is much easier to handle when you are healthy.

During times of stress we usually turn to comfort foods but it is important to nourish your body with the nutrients that it needs as these junk foods leave us feeling lethargic[5]. Avoid high fat, sugary foods and instead eat fruit, vegetables and carbohydrate rich dishes such as a baked sweet potato. 

 

Talk to someone

 

Dealing with stress on your own can be hard work and talking to someone you trust can make a huge difference to how you are feeling, whether that be a good friend or a GP. Talking treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) can also help you understand your thought patterns, recognise your trigger points and identify positive actions you can take.

 

Try these small lifestyle changes to reduce your stress levels and you should soon, hopefully, start to see the effects.

 

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[1] http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/understanding-heartburn-basics

[2] http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/signs/heartburn

[3] http://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/stress#2

[4] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx

[5] http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress