Have you ever experienced anxiety, then you experience symptoms of heartburn, which then tend to cause you more anxiety? Ever wondered why that is?
Is My Heartburn Related to My Anxiety?
In 1993, researchers found that reflux patients who showed anxiety-related symptoms may perceive low-intensity esophageal stimuli as painful reflux symptoms. However, it's still debatable whether stress and anxiety actually cause acid reflux.
In another study in 2005, researchers measured the levels of esophageal acids in more than 40 patients who had chronic heartburn or acid reflux. They found that those who were stressed when required to prepare and give a speech reported more intense reflux symptoms. However, the researchers found that those individuals produced no more stomach acid than the patients who were stressed.
So Is It All in Our Heads?
Does this mean that your symptoms are just in your head? Researchers found that stress may cause changes in the brain that turn up pain receptors, making you physically more sensitive to slight rises in acid levels. So there may be a connection to your anxiety and your heartburn. Stress can also cause the production of substances called "prostaglandins" to deplete. These substances usually protect the stomach from the effects of acid so when they are diminished, it could lead to increased discomfort and heartburn symptoms.
How Can I Alleviate My Heartburn and My Anxiety?
Recommendations for treating both anxiety and heartburn can be:
- Eat Smaller Meals
- Take Antacids
- Avoid Foods That Contribute to Heartburn: This includes chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, spicy and fatty foods.
- Exercise Daily: Exercise can initially make heartburn worse, but over time it will help. Exercise will help loosen up tense muscles and releasing your feel-good hormones.
Can Stress Cause Acid Reflux?