Acidity or acid reflux can be either an acute or a chronic condition wherein the digestive acids in the stomach are regurgitated up into the food pipe. This irritates the inner lining of the food pipe and can lead to a burning sensation, heartburn, excessive burping, excessive flatulence, and even nausea. Although acidity may occur due to many reasons, the acidity due to stress is also one of the most common scenarios.
Stress and Acidity
If you suffer from frequent bouts of acidity or acid reflux, here are 4 ways in which stress might be responsible for it:
1. Increased Stomach Acid Production
If you suffer from regular acidity, stress might very well be one of the underlying causes. While stress can have several of its own causes, one common effect it has on your mental health is the development of anxiety. Anxiety causes other physical complications like increased production of stomach acid. This increased production of stomach acids can force some of the excess acid back into the food pipe (oesophagus).
You might have noticed that stress may either make you hungry or kill your appetite. This is also one of the results of the increased production of stomach acids. In this way, stress and acid reflux are closely related and in order to reduce the occurrence of acid reflux, you will need to take active steps to reduce stress in your life.
2. Reduced Pressure in the Lower Esophageal Sphincter
The Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is a band of tissues located at the juncture of the food pipe and the stomach. The LES is responsible for keeping the stomach shut during digestion, so that stomach acids do not leak into the food pipe. Stress and consequent anxiety can cause the LES to loosen up. This allows the stomach acids to leak into the food pipe, leading to the symptoms of acid reflux.
Research has proven that stress and anxiety lead to a diminished rate of contractions of the food pipe as well as the LES. Therefore, it is now a widely accepted fact in the medical community that anxiety and stress cause acid reflux.
3. Lasting Muscle Tension in the Stomach
Studies have also identified the effect of stress and anxiety on muscle tension in the gut. This means that people who are undergoing extreme stress experience increased muscle tension in the tissues in and around the stomach. You can develop acidity due to stress when this muscle tension in the stomach forces the gastric acids to go back up into the food pipe.
While acute acidity due to such stress may not be a major cause of worry, continued occurrence of acid reflux might be concerning. Repeated regurgitation of stomach acids can often be the symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
4. Depletion of Protective Hormones
Another way in which stress and acidity are connected is the production of a hormone called prostaglandin. This hormone protects your stomach from any harm that may be caused by strong gastric acids. Increased stress has been found to decrease the production of this hormone and therefore, you may feel extreme discomfort in your stomach due to this.
In such a case, the gastric acids may erode the protective lining of the stomach as well as go back up into the food pipe, leading to acid reflux. The only way to prevent this is to reduce the sources of stress in your daily life.
The Bottom Line
Whatever the reason be for acid reflux, it is a widely common gastroesophageal disorder experienced by many. In fact, it is so commonplace that most people who suffer from acid reflux do not seek long-term treatment but rather settle for temporary antacids to tide over the ordeal. However, to resolve the issue of acidity due to stress, some mental health techniques need to be adopted.