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Can stress trigger heartburn and acid reflux?

There is an increasing number of patients reporting heartburn and acid reflux in recent times. You will be surprised to know that the majority of them suffer from chronic anxiety and stress which causes severe acid reflux and heartburn. We at A.J. Hospital, Mangalore have come across multiple cases of acute anxiety attacks and chronic stress which have led to GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and even heart attacks.

What is acid reflux?

The onset of pandemic and WFH are the main contributors to the stress. Not only are people managing their work from home but also finishing the household chores. Pre-pandemic it was easier to assign tasks of work, home, and household chores between different family members and house help. This balance has also gone for a toss since all the family members are forced to stay indoors. Mood and individual problems or illness of any family member are bound to affect and cause more stress.

What is acid reflux or acidity and heartburn?
The stomach produces acid for the digestion of food. Food goes from mouth to stomach, passing through the esophagus. There is a valve between the stomach and esophagus which allows the food to pass from the esophagus to the stomach and does not let the acid go from the stomach to the esophagus. In case, the valve closes partially or remains open, the acid goes from the stomach to the esophagus. This is called acidity which causes discomfort in the chest, also called heartburn. 

In Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux occurs two or more times a week and becomes an acidity disease. 

If you have other symptoms like headaches, general irritability, stiff neck, and shoulders, sleeplessness, unable to focus or concentrate, bloating, or nausea, along with heartburn, this translates that stress is the main reason for your acid reflux. We advise you to go to a nearby hospital and get yourself checked.

Can stress cause acidity?

How to cope with stress and avoid acidity?
One of the best ways to cope with stress-related acidity is to ensure a healthy diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Importance of exercise to cope with acidity and stress

Here are some more ways to manage your stress:

  • Diet: Avoid spicy, high carbohydrate junk food. Eat healthier food, more fruits, and vegetables. Make sure you eat timely, multiple small meals instead of stomach full two or three meals. You can speak to our dietician in Mangalore on a teleconsultation. 

  • Hydrate: More than often our body is dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking 8-12 glasses of plain water.

  • Quit smoking: The nicotine from cigarettes causes the esophageal valve to relax which leads to regurgitation (upward flow) of digestive juices causing severe heartburn.

  • Sleep: Make sure you sleep adequately. Get a good 7 hours of sleep. Do not eat for at least 3hr before sleeping. Use a pillow or raise the bedside where you lie your head by 5-6inches.

  • Do some physical exercise or activity for at least 45min every day. If you are overweight, burn more calories than you eat every day and focus on losing weight and building good metabolism for better digestion of food.

  • Side effects of your medication: If you are on some medication, consult your doctor and inform them about the acid reflux. More than often, some medicines cause acidity as a side effect.

  • Self-care: Take regular breaks from work. Keep fixed hours for work. Ask for help and involve all the family members to divide the household chores. Spend 30 min or more every day indulging in any fun activity or hobby of your choice like just listening to music, painting, reading a book, watching a show, playing some games, etc.

Do not self-medicate or get over-the-counter medicines or syrups for your acidity, which may damage your digestive system permanently.

Do not self medicate

Make sure you only take the medicines prescribed and as suggested by the doctor. It is important to address acid reflux or GERD in time, ignorance has been known to lead to a heart attack. 

You can book an appointment with us at A.J.Hospital. We offer you the best ambiance, all the COVID-19 protocols in place, and highly skilled medical staff to assist you. We are the best cardiac hospital and have some of the best gastroenterologists in Mangalore.