Millions of adult men and women, in addition to a huge number of small babies, suffer from an ailment called acid reflux. This is a medical condition when the food content and the stomach acids somehow find their way back into the esophagus of the individual to cause heartburn. Scientists and doctors agree that the reverse flow of the stomach acids into esophagus is the reason behind acid reflux. This flow back is caused by malfunctioning valves of esophagus that are nothing but a ring of muscles situated at the lower end of the sphincter. When this group of muscles become weak, they allow stomach acids to pass into esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux. There are many things, particularly food items, which play the role of a trigger in causing heartburn. But there is one psychological factor that plays a crucial role in worsening of acid reflux. It is stress that continues to build inside the mind of the individual and causes the brain to release more acids into his stomach.
Higher stress levels are related to worsening of symptoms of acid reflux
If you recall, you would realize that your symptoms of acid reflux intensified at the time you were applying for a new job and also when it was the wedding of your son. Both events happen to be important ones in the life of an individual. People suffering from acid reflux know straightaway that they need to stay away from spicy foods at a party or social gathering but they are not aware that stress is also playing a major part in worsening their acid reflux. From preparing to give a speech in front of your colleagues and bosses to waiting outside the labour room to know the result of pregnancy of your wife, there are many events that create lots of stress in their minds of the people.
While some people handle stress easily, there are many whose bodies respond to stress by releasing excess acid inside stomach. It is this excess acid formed inside the stomach because of stress that triggers heartburn in the case of many individuals. It is indeed a pity that the studies that have been conducted to establish a relation between stress and heartburn have failed to quantify this relation. But all studies point to the fact that stress does trigger heartburn in the case of most people. This is certainly bad news for all people who stack up loads of stress in their lives. Thankfully, there are several calming techniques that allow such people to cope with heartburn even during hard and trying times in their lives.
In a study conducted over more than 40000 people in Norway, it was found that work related stress put a good number of people at risk to symptoms of acid reflux. Interestingly, people in this group reporting high job satisfaction also reported much less incidence of GERD symptoms. In another recent study, it has been found that more than half of the 12000 people suffering from acid reflux said that they experienced worsening of their symptoms with going up of stress levels in their lives.
More studies have been conducted in recent times to find out if indeed human body starts to produce higher amounts of stomach acids to cope with high stress. Interestingly, scientists have concluded that there is no proof of higher amounts of acids being produced inside the bodies during stress causing events. However, symptoms of heartburn worsen in people suffering from acid reflux. This implies that rather than the amount of acid, it is the way the body of an individual responds to stress that is more important in worsening the symptoms of acid reflux. May be it is all in the head of the individual as he starts to feel more uncomfortable during times of stress. This may be the reason why he starts to experience more heartburn with perhaps same quantities of acid in his stomach.
Steps you can take to cope with stress
Thankfully, there are many techniques to manage high stress levels. These techniques that include aerobics, breathing exercises, and meditation help in alleviating stress and also in preventing incidence of cardiovascular diseases, depression, high blood pressure, and many other diseases. Here is a list of steps you can take to make sure that you do not experience worsening of symptoms of acid reflux with increasing stress levels in your life.
• Do more physical exercises. Physical activities not only loosen your muscles but also release many natural and feel good hormones. Besides, you stand to lose weight that also reduces pressure on your abdomen.
• Sleep for at least 6 hours. Sound sleep for several hours is essential to give rest to your body and mind and also to reduce the stress levels in your mind.
• Eat healthy diet. There are many food items that increase stress levels. Avoid them and cut down on alcoholic beverages, smoking, caffeine, and tea.