If you’ve ever felt like your acid reflux is spiking in times of high stress, you’re not alone. Studies have shown people may be more sensitive to their gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in times of heightened anxiety. There are options available to manage both your stress and your GERD symptoms to help with discomfort, and many of the options help promote general well-being.
What is GERD?
GERD is a condition in which a muscle at the bottom of the esophagus doesn’t function properly and allows stomach acid to rise into the esophagus. The stomach acid causes the burning sensation felt during acid reflux. Studies have shown that heightened stress makes individuals more perceptive to the acid in their esophagus, leading to an increased feeling of discomfort.
This doesn’t mean the increase in discomfort is all in your head. Researchers believe that in times of stress, our pain receptors are sensitized, leading to a higher perception of pain.
Some changes can be made to minimize acid reflux.
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding coffee, teas and soda drinks
- Eating smaller portion sizes
- Not smoking
- Not eating before bedtime
To minimize the impact that stress has on GERD symptoms, there are additional changes that can be made to help promote overall well-being. Stress management helps improve your risk of developing other diseases such as heart disease, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and depression. There are a few techniques you can try to manage your stress.
Stress management tactics:
- Practice relaxation techniques. Try a yoga class at Vasa Fitness to begin yoga or meditation.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is an important factor for overall recovery and stress management. You can sleep in an elevated position to help reduce acid reflux symptoms.
- Exercise is important for overall well-being and can act as a stress reliever.
- Prioritize your hobbies. Spending more time doing what you enjoy and saying no to unnecessary commitments can help you manage stress.
If you’re struggling with painful acid reflux, talk to your doctor. If you have questions about how to manage symptoms, schedule an appointment at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat.