Stress can be a powerful trigger that can cause or worsen certain physical ailments, including acid reflux. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between stress and acid reflux, as well as what you can do to help alleviate your symptoms during trying times.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents move up into the esophagus and cause irritation. Many of us experience occasional reflux after a particularly large or spicy meal. If you have frequent symptoms, you have what is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These symptoms may include:
- A burning sensation in your chest
- Abdominal or chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Feeling like there is a lump in your throat
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat
Research Shows High Stress Linked to Acid Reflux Symptoms
Multiple studies have shown a link between periods of high stress and experiencing acid reflux. Some examples include:
- A 2004 study found that the prevalence of severe or sustained stress over a six-month period significantly predicted increased heartburn symptoms during the next few months.
- A study published in 2015 asked almost 13,000 acid reflux sufferers what lifestyle factors contributed to their symptoms, with 45.6% of patients answering, “feelings of continued stress.”
- Additionally, a 2007 study found that exposing GERD patients to acute auditory stress increased their heartburn symptoms.
Ways to Lower Your Stress Levels
Finding coping techniques to deal with your stress may help to reduce your reflux symptoms. Different tactics work for different individuals, but some options to try include:
- Regular physical exercise
- Get enough sleep
- Breathing exercises
- Spend time with loved ones
Treat Your Acid Reflux
In addition to taking steps to manage your stress levels, it’s important to treat GERD, as it can negatively impact your quality of life and, in long-lasting cases, lead to permanent damage to your esophagus.
Treatment usually involves a mix of lifestyle changes and medications. A doctor may recommend that you:
- Avoid spicy, fried, citrusy foods or other triggers.
- Focus on a diet full of leafy greens, whole grains and lean protein when shopping for food at Arvada Farmers Market.
- Sleep with a wedge pillow or the head of your bed elevated.
- Avoid lying flat for several hours after eating.
- Take acid-reducing medications like proton pump inhibitors.
To learn more or to be evaluated by one of our specialists, call Advantage ENT & Audiology today.