Can Stress & Anxiety Cause Heartburn? Relief & Self Care Advice
Do you find your heartburn and indigestion symptoms get worse when there’s a stressful life event on the horizon?
A new job, organising a special family occasion, pressures at work – just a few of the things we encounter in life’s rich tapestry which can make us anxious, irritable and sleep deprived.
But did you know stress and anxiety are also linked to heartburn and acid reflux1 which may explain why your symptoms are worse or more frequent during these times.
The Links To Heartburn & Anxiety
Most sufferers are aware of the heartburn links to diet, being overweight, smoking and pregnancy but according to research2 people with anxiety are more likely to suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – reoccurring heartburn symptoms.1
Why Could Heartburn Be Effected By Anxiety / Stress?
Heartburn could share a close link with anxiety / stress, it’s believed there could be several reasons for this such as2:
- Stomach acid production may increase due to high anxiety levels.
- Anxiety may reduce pressure in the muscular ring which joins the oesophagus to the stomach hindering it from preventing acid leaking into the gullet.
- Muscle tension caused by the body’s response to stress and anxiety may affect the muscles around the stomach, increasing pressure on the stomach which in turn pushes up acid.
Equally, frequent episodes of acid reflux and heartburn can also be a major source of anxiety and stress for sufferers as it impacts everyday life – it can be a frustrating and distressing vicious circle.
As with all heartburn triggers, simple lifestyle changes can make a difference.
Here are our tips for helping to tackle those stress and anxiety related symptoms – in fact they’re also good advice for all-round health and wellbeing, particularly if these are issues affecting other areas of day-to-day life.
And what’s more, many of them are some of life’s freebies and won’t cost a penny!
Easier said than done you say! Well, it’s actually easier than you think.
From a simple, daily, walk – how about in your lunch hour at work? – to clear the mind, to tension-relieving Yoga and meditation – there are some great apps out there if you haven’t got time for classes.
Great for loosening tense muscles, keeping fit and active and boosting mood, exercise really can be the best medicine.
Walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, whatever you fancy, give it a try. It can also help you lose weight which can also reduce the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux if you’re overweight.3
Connect with others
Friends, family, pets, whatever or whoever your go-to is, spending time with those who make you happy works wonders for mental health and – a close second to exercise, laughter is also the best medicine for relieving stress.3
It also helps to connect to others to help get a different perspective on things and turn to them for support when you need it.4
Heartburn and acid reflux can give sufferers sleepless nights, or at least disrupt a good night’s sleep. Coupled with stress and anxiety, it’s really something you could do without.
Continually poor quality sleep can not only make us grumpy and struggle with brain fog, it can also have a profound effect on our physical health, putting us at risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Around 1 in 3 of us suffer from lack of sleep with stress, tech and work pressures the most common culprits.
One of the many benefits of regular good sleep is to boost mental wellbeing and therefore reduce the risk the of mood disorders such as anxiety.
How To Aid Sleep With Heartburn
It won’t happen overnight if you’ve built up weeks or months of sleep debt but by adding an hour or two a night it will slowly start to recover.
A nightly routine, a winding down stage such as a warm bath, relaxation exercises or listening to music and avoiding the use of tech an hour or so before bed may well help you to drop off quicker.
If acid reflux tends to keep you awake, try not to eat 2-3 hours before bed and keep your head elevated when lying down.5
Take care of your diet
It’s best to steer clear of the food and drink that causes or makes your heartburn and acid reflux symptoms worse such as coffee, fatty or spicy foods, tomatoes and chocolate.
Try to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
Turning to unhealthy stress coping mechanisms such as drinking or smoking is unhelpful for many reasons and both are well known heartburn triggers.4
Cut down portion sizes
Instead of three main meals a day, try eating smaller, more frequent meals to help your stomach with digestion.1
Many of us suffer from occasional heartburn and acid reflux and we can all feel stressed and anxious at times.
But if either or both of these problems are occurring on a regular basis it’s important to seek help and treatment.2
If you keep getting heartburn and acid reflux you can speak to your pharmacist for advice.
Speak to a GP
If lifestyle changes and medicines such as antacids aren’t helping – and you have heartburn most days for three weeks or more – speak to your GP who can provide stronger treatments.1
Using omeprazole tablets for heartburn
Pyrocalm Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets contain omeprazole which is a widely used treatment for the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux and works to reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.6
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Pyrocalm Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets (omeprazole) are used in adults for the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms (e.g. heartburn, acid regurgitation, acid reflux). Always read the label.
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Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults.
Contains 20 mg Omeprazole. Always read the label. Medicines can affect the unborn baby.
Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.