How Much Does Stress Affect Acid Reflux?
09. 21. 2017
Have you ever noticed that acid reflux tends to strike at the most inopportune times? Maybe it’s right before a big work presentation or while you’re waiting on a call from the doctor to discuss lab results. It’s no coincidence that digestive symptoms tend to flare when we’re feeling anxious or concerned. Many people find that stress is a significant trigger for their acid reflux symptoms.
Researchers have struggled to find consistent evidence linking stress to acid reflux, but a few studies have offered some insight into this connection. A 2009 Norwegian study found that people who reported more work-related stress had a higher risk for symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In particular, participants with low job satisfaction were twice as likely to have acid reflux compared to those with high job satisfaction.
An additional study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that GERD patients reported more pain and discomfort from acid reflux when they were feeling stressed. Research showed that these patients did not develop an increase in gastric acid production during stressful times - they were simply more sensitive to their symptoms (Source: Healthline).
While evidence shows that stress can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms, it is unlikely to be the primary cause of your digestive issues. Factors like obesity, smoking, poor diet, and structural causes are known culprits for chronic heartburn, and stressful situations may make your existing symptoms even worse. Addressing the underlying cause of your heartburn will undoubtedly offer significant relief, but you may also benefit from stress management techniques such as:
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate rest
- Yoga, tai chi or meditation
- Prioritizing tasks and activities
- Eliminating unnecessary stressors
If your heartburn symptoms persist, talk to your doctor about treatment options that will work best for you. Relief may be as simple as changing your diet choices and lifestyle habits, or you may need medications to effectively control routine flare-ups. Stress-related heartburn can be managed, so don’t waste time before seeking treatment. Call your doctor today and start experiencing relief!