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Can Stress Cause Acid Reflux?

Dr. Kartik Goyal MBBS, MD(Med)(BHU), DM(Gastro), Consultant Gastroenterologist, Oswal
Hospital, Ludhiana

The stress pays an important role in acid reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Many of the time during stress situations symptoms of acid reflux tend to increase or become more severe. According to some studies and surveys, stress may very well be another trigger for heartburn.

What research says?

Lifestyle factors can play a role in how the disease affects an individual. It’s still de- beatable whether or not stress actually increases the production of stomach acid or physically creates a worsening in acid. Currently, many scientists believe that when you’re stressed, you become more sensitive to smaller amounts of acid in the esophagus.

A 2009 study looked at health surveys of over 40,000 Norwegians and found that people who reported work-related stress were significantly more at risk for GERD symptoms. People who said they had low job satisfaction were twice as likely to have GERD compared with those who reported high job satisfaction.

A more recent study, published in Internal Medicine, interviewed 12,653 people with GERD and found that nearly half reported stress as the biggest factor that worsened symptoms, even when on medication.

In 1993, researchers published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology that people with acid reflux who were anxious and stressed reported having more painful symptoms related to acid reflux, but no one showed an increase in gastric acid. In other words, though people consistently reported feeling more discomfort, the scientists didn’t find any increase in total acid produced.

Another study from 2008 added further support to this idea. When researchers ex- posed people with GERD to a stressful noise, they also found that it increased their symptoms by making them more sensitive to acid exposure.

Based on different research and experiments, researchers theorize that stress may cause changes in the brain that turn up This is particularly important if you’re pain receptors, making you physically more under stress, as you’re likely to be more sensitive to slight increases in acid levels. sensitive to heartburn-triggering foods like Stress can also deplete the production of chocolate, caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, substances called prostaglandins, which tomatoes, spicy foods, and fatty foods. normally protect the stomach from the ef- Get enough sleep effects of acid. This could increase your per Stress and sleep form a cycle. Sleep is a ception of discomfort.

What can you do to avoid the stress

Adpoting coping techniques for managing stress for life can help reduce your risk of conditions


Exercise helps to loosen up tight muscles, get you away from the office, and release natural, feel-good hormones.exercise can also help you to lose weight, which can help reduce the pressure on your abdomen.

Avoid trigger foods

This is particularly important if you’re under stress, as you’re likely to be more sensitive to heartburn-triggering food like chocolate, caffeine fruits, juices tomatoes, spicy food, and fatty food.

Get enough sleep

Stress and sleep from a cycle. sleep is a natural stress reducer and less stress can lead to better sleep. To help avoid heartburn symptoms while you snooze, keep your head elevated .

Practice relaxation techniques

Try out yoga and other meditation techniques which help you to calm down and reduce stress.