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How Stress Increases The Risk Of Acid Reflux

Stress can affect your body and central nervous system in more ways than you think, so it should be no surprise that stress can impact how well your digestive system works.

Here’s Why

Acid Reflux When you’re under stress, your body begins transferring blood from your internal organs to the muscles as a way to cope with stress. When the blood leaves your digestive system in order to go to the muscles, your digestive process slows down, leaving food less digested and in the stomach longer than it should be. Undigested food is one of the primary factors leading to acid reflux.

As the digestive system slows and food builds up in your stomach, the level of gastric acid rises, building pressure against the mechanism designed to keep food from coming back up into your esophagus. That mechanism is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If the pressure is great enough, stomach acid will escape into the esophagus, because the contents of the stomach have put too much pressure on the LES.

When the gastric acid enters the esophagus it can trigger a number of acid reflux and stress symptoms such as heartburn. In chronic cases of acid reflux, the gastric acid can reach up into the throat; causing severe sore throat and bad breath.

Learn to Minimize Stress for Greater Comfort

While some of us may resort to drinking or eating “comfort foods” that are high in fat, the comforting results are brief. They ultimately will only exacerbate your acid reflux symptoms.

Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach and intestinal tract; and it kills a lot of the good bacteria in your system that are responsible for proper digestion. Alcohol relaxes you, but also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter. It stays open longer and allows more gastric juices to flow back up.

Instead of treating yourself to a couple of glasses of wine, or indulging in a plate of fried chicken fingers and fries, stop connecting food with comfort, and try taking time for yourself. Make sure you are relaxed before eating, and your digestive system will most likely work better when you do eat.

If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or poor digestion, we recommend you schedule a time to talk with our doctors at GI North. They specialize in treating acid reflux and other related digestive conditions.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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