Over the years, medical experts have conducted studies to find out the more stress a person experiences, the more likely it is they will suffer from heartburn acid reflux. Many people wonder whether acid reflux is just one of the symptoms of stress or can actually be caused by stress.
The answer is that stress can cause acid reflux. However, in the vast majority of cases, stress doesn’t actually trigger acid reflux; stress exacerbates its other causes.
How can stress directly cause acid reflux?
When you are stressed, your body naturally sends more blood to your muscles in an effort to help provide them with the additional energy needed to better manage your stress.
Unfortunately, when this occurs, the body is robbing blood from other vital areas such as your digestive system. Without the necessary amount of blood required for normal digestion, the digestion process slows down. This causes food and harsh digestive acids to stay in your stomach longer, which increases your risk of acid reflux and heartburn, as well as other discomforts such as bloating and constipation.
How does stress contribute to other causes of acid reflux?
When we are stressed we tend to disregard healthy living and adopt self-destructive behaviors. For instance, some of us…
- Eat “comfort” foods – chocolate, fatty, fried or spicy foods
- Eat faster or “on the run”.
- Drink more caffeine
- Use stress as a reason not to exercise
- Take more over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs (I.E. ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) for headaches and other stress-related bodily aches and pains.
- Resort to excessive drinking and/or smoking to help ease the pressure we feel.
All of these behaviors have the potential to lead to acid reflux, and the longer the behaviors last, the higher your risk.
Therefore, it is essential that you eliminate stress to help prevent acid reflux. Relieving stress is simply a matter of alleviating your worries by practicing stress management. Of course, this is often easier said than done, which is why it is important that you find a stress relief approach that works for you.