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Can Stress Cause Heartburn?

Can Stress Cause Heartburn?

Stress can have significant consequences for just about every aspect of your health, including heartburn. Stress has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system in many ways, sometimes temporarily and sometimes persistently.

If you’re suffering from heartburn and you think stress might have something to do with it, take a look at how the two might be connected and whether it might be the cause of your heartburn.

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is when the sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach becomes weakened and does not close properly. This allows stomach acid to rise from the stomach and into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the center of the chest or throat. Other symptoms of heartburn can include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Regurgitation of food
  • A sour taste in the mouth
  • Vomiting

How Stress Can Affect the Digestive System

High stress can have a huge effect on the digestive system. During times of increased stress, people can experience various symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, or heartburn. In response to increased stress levels, the stomach produces excess stomach acid. The excess stomach acid can then travel up the esophagus, leading to the classic burning sensation associated with heartburn. Stress can also lead to delayed stomach emptying, making you feel full for longer periods.

Stress Behaviors That Can Worsen Heartburn

People can develop behaviors during times of increased stress that can aggravate heartburn symptoms. Behaviors that can contribute to heartburn include:

  • Irregular eating patterns and meal times
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Eating fried or fatty foods
  • Increased alcohol intake
  • Less physical activity
  • Smoking cigarettes

How to Manage Stress for Heartburn Relief

Managing your stress levels is a great way to help reduce your heartburn symptoms. If you believe stress is contributing to your heartburn symptoms, some helpful strategies you could try to help relax include meditation, listening to music, or practicing yoga.

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Heartburn

The best thing you can do to reduce your heartburn symptoms is to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle, including:

  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Avoid fried or fatty foods.
  • Avoid acidic fruits such as lemon, orange, or tomato.
  • Avoid spicy foods.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee or soda.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in excess.
  • Incorporate more physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid lying down after eating. Sit up for at least 30 minutes.

What To Do Next

While it may not be obvious that stress can cause heartburn, once you understand the connection, it can be easier to implement practical strategies to manage your stress and maintain your digestive health. If you are struggling with stress and heartburn, talk with a doctor today to learn how to manage both conditions so that you can live a more balanced and happy life.

Don’t continue to live with heartburn – schedule an appointment today!

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