How Can You Prevent And Treat A Nervous Stomach Ache
There are a number of things parents can do if their child is experiencing belly aches related to anxiety or stress:
- Listen â Of all the things, the most important is to listen to your child. If they are complaining of a belly ache and nausea consistently, itâs important to see a professional. This will ensure that you can find the root cause and deal with it effectively.
- Proper Eating Habits â Most kids love fried foods and sweets, but theyâre not going to help their digestive system. Healthy eating habits will ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need so they can take on the day! A healthy body means they wonât have to worry about a belly ache after eating!
- Breathing Techniques â The concept of just slowing down the moment may be easier said than done, but breathing techniques can really work. By teaching your child to take deep breaths, this will work their diaphragm and may stop a belly ache. It will also help them to gain clarity and decompress.
- Counseling â If your child is dealing with ongoing anxiety, it may be helpful for them to talk to a counselor. A counselor may be able to get to the bottom of their issues and determine how they can find balance. Be sure to share your own anxiety stomach pain remedy with other parents on your favorite family app.
What Causes Nausea With Anxiety
Anxiety can trigger your fight, flight, or freeze response. Basically, your body is preparing you to face a crisis. This is a natural reaction to a stressful situation and, when called for, can help you survive.
When you feel stressed or anxious, your body releases a rush of hormones. Neurotransmitters in the brain react by sending messages to the rest of your body to:
- get the heart pumping faster
- increase the breathing rate
- tense the muscles
- send more blood to the brain
Anxiety and stress can affect virtually every body system. This includes your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems.
In the digestive system, stress can cause:
- nausea, vomiting
If youre having this type of response often or for no apparent reason, it can negatively affect your quality of life.
Anxiety disorders that arent addressed can lead to other conditions, such as depression.
How To Calm An Anxious Stomach: The Brain
Ever wonder why you get butterflies in your stomach before doing something stressful? Or why you feel like your stomach is tied in knots after an argument? Ever had a meeting with a toilet that went longer than expected and it wasnt caused by anything you ate? Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. Like the brain, the gut is full of nerves. It contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections.
Whether its a single nerve-wracking event or chronic worry and stress over time, stress can exact a physical toll on your digestive system. When you are anxious, some of the hormones and chemicals released by your body enter your digestive tract, where they interfere with digestion. They have a negative effect on your gut flora and decrease antibody production. The resulting chemical imbalance can cause a number of gastrointestinal conditions.
Common stress-related gut symptoms and conditions include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- and peptic ulcers
Six Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
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Have A Bowl Of Yogurt
Yogurt might not seem like an obvious remedy for stomach problems, but if you want to know how to get rid of cramps, a bowl of plain, regular yogurt might do the trick. Thats because yogurt is full of probiotics that can restore balance to your gut, improving your digestion.
Go for plain yogurt rather than the sweetened kind, since sugar can upset your stomach and throw off your balance of gut bacteria even more. If you cant stomach the taste of plain yogurt, drizzle a little honey over the top or mix in a few berries.
Get the freshest yogurt you can find. For long-term relief, make yogurt part of your diet every day.
What Causes A Stomach Ache
Stomach problems are common, so your cramps could be caused by a number of different things.
Here are a few of the most common culprits behind an achy stomach:
- Gastritis. Gastritis is another name for inflammation of the stomach lining. It can be caused by a number of things, including bacterial infections, the use of certain drugs, age, or tobacco or alcohol use. Gastritis can cause upper stomach pain, nausea, and a feeling of fullness in your stomach.
- Acid reflux. Acid reflux, also known as gastrointestinal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid gets backed up into the esophagus. It causes an aching or burning sensation in the stomach and behind the breastbone. Acid reflux can be caused by problems like a hiatal hernia, as well as by eating fatty or spicy foods.
- Lactose intolerance. Do you find yourself doubled over in pain after drinking a glass of milk or eating cheese? You could be lactose intolerant. People with lactose intolerance cant digest dairy, which leads to stomach pain and other digestive issues.
- Stress. Stress and anxiety can cause physical symptoms, including stomach aches.
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Working With The School
The school plays an important role when kids develop physical symptoms of anxiety. Clinicians work with the school nurse and sometimes the psychologist or school counselor to set up a protocol for keeping the childs absences from class as short as possible. For instance, the recommended amount of time to wait before encouraging the child to go back to class might be as short as five minutes.
As much as we can, we urge them not to contact the parent or send the child home if theyre saying that theyre nauseous, adds Dr. Domingues, if we know that they are feeling this way because theyre anxious. The shorter the break can be, the better it is, because the longer theyre out of the thing thats making them feel anxious, she says, the harder it will be to get them back in.
This sort of symptoms can appear in a wide-range of children, but theyre most common in the grade-school years, notes Ms. Greenspan. As kids get older and transition into adolescence and adulthood, they are more likely to manifest their anxiety symptoms in other ways.
Soothe Your Stomach With Fennel
Fennel stimulates digestion, reduces gas and bloating, and soothes stomach pain. Its a common ingredient in many commercial teas that relieve stomach problems. If you like the flavor of licorice, youll probably like how fennel tastes, too.
If you can find raw fennel bulbs at a health food store near you, treat your stomach pain by slicing off a piece and chewing on it.
If you cant find raw fennel, the seeds also work well for treating indigestion and bloating.
Chew on half a teaspoon of them, or steep them in hot water to make fennel tea.
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How To Stop Anxiety From Causing Further Back Pain
Under the assumption that your back pain is caused by anxiety, treating that back pain does require a focus on the pain itself. Unfortunately, while treating anxiety can reduce your back pain in the long term , breaking the cycle of back pain depends in large part on your ability to also fight the back pain itself. Consider the following tips:
These are all traditional ways to deal with back pain unrelated to anxiety, but theyre still effective because once back pain starts, it needs to be stopped using traditional methods.
But of course, controlling your back pain is only step one. You will still need to learn ways to cope with anxiety so that you can stop your anxiety back pain from occurring again.
Anxiety causes muscle tension, inactivity, changes in posture, and other changes that can all lead to back pain. The pain is real, so over the counter painkillers, stretching, and similar treatments might be needed to eliminate the pain. In the long term, it becomes important to stop the anxiety.
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Causes Of Anxiety Related Back Pain
There are many different issues that can lead to back pain, and it is helpful to speak with a doctor to determine what your cause may be. When anxiety contributes to back pain, it is believed thatthe cause of back pain from anxiety is mostly secondary meaning that anxiety isnt literally causing back pain, but anxiety is causing behaviors that lead to back pain.
There are many theories that describe a situation where back pain may be directly caused by anxiety. The most common is theory is that anxiety, which causes muscle tension, may be tensing muscles in the upper or lower back, and that that muscle tension causes pain in anxiety sufferers.
Massage therapists will tell you that their most stressed clients often have knots in their muscles, especially in their shoulder and upper back, so anxiety-related back pain really does exist.
But anxiety may also be causing separate issues that simply lead to back pain. These include:
Anxiety isnt believed to cause severe back pain. But its also important to remember that there is often a back pain cycle. Those with greater perceived back pain are more likely to over-adjust in an attempt to avoid the pain. Chiropractors see this often. A patient with mild back pain will make their back pain worse because theyre constantly walking, sitting, or twisting in ways that are unnatural in an attempt to reduce that back pain.
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Examples Of Anxiety And Stomach Issues
There are many different examples of how anxiety and stomach issues can be connected. Here are a few:
- Abdominal tension: This is when the muscles in the stomach area become tight. This can happen when someone is feeling anxious or stressed.
- Acid reflux: This is when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. It usually happens when someone is lying down or after eating.
- Chronic stomach pain: It is when stomach pain lasts for a long period of time. It can be caused by anxiety, stress, or other medical conditions.
- Irritable bowel syndrome : This is a condition that affects the digestive system. IBS is often associated with anxiety and stress.
Anxiety and stomach pain can both be very debilitating. They can cause a lot of physical and emotional distress. If you are experiencing either of these, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional.
Coping Techniques And Resources To Help Kids Thrive
With functional abdominal pain, there isnt necessarily a definite treatment or medication that will cure kids discomfort.
Its more about helping these kids learn coping techniques and identify the triggers that exacerbate their symptoms, said Pattamanuch. Children may need more screening for depression or anxiety from a mental health professional. There are helpful clinics at Seattle Childrens for this.
Some kids may be referred to the Biofeedback Clinic, where they can learn relaxation techniques to decrease the intensity of their pain. They may also be referred to the Pain Medicine Clinic where they could undergo an in-depth assessment to help manage their pain.
Aside from these resources, Pattamanuch often works with kids on simple techniques they can practice at home and implement into their daily lives to alleviate their recurring abdominal pain and discomfort. These include:
While all kids have unique needs, some may require medication to help with their symptoms. However, Pattamanuch says theres careful consideration when offering this treatment.
When needed, we have some medications we can prescribe to help relax the gastrointestinal tract, but often they arent useful because theyre not addressing the root cause of the issue, said Pattamanuch. Its most beneficial for kids to learn how to get in-tune with their psychological triggers and try to address those issues first and foremost.
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Tips For Anxiety Relief
A number of short-term remedies may help bring immediate relief to your child, and more involved methods can help provide longer-term relief.
Short-term Anxiety Busters
Breathe!Breathing techniques are quick, easy-to-learn and can help your child de-stress on the spot. Diaphragmatic breathing, commonly called belly breathing, involves taking long, full breaths that work the diaphragm and make the belly rise and fall. Check out more tips in our post on Teaching Your Anxious Child to Calm Themselves with Their Breath.
Additional ways to bring near instant relief can be taking a quick break to listen to soothing music or giving your child your complete attention so he or she can cry, cringe, scream or otherwise share how they are feeling and why.
Longer-term Anxiety Helpers
Longer-term solutions include ensuring the basic are being met with success. These include ensuring your child eats a healthy diet,gets adequate sleep, engages in plenty of exerciseand takes time to unwind. Mindfulness and meditation are two more ongoing, anxiety-busting strategies you and your child can incorporate into your daily routines. And if the stomach aches become too overwhelming, dont be afraid to address the underlying issues with the help of a therapist.
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Are There Foods That Reduce Stomach Pain
Anxiety-related stomach pain is not usually the result of your diet , so there arent necessarily any dietary changes that can help reduce stomach pain.
That said, those with panic attacks are more prone to experiencing more severe stomach discomfort, even when no anxiety is present. In other words, when you have panic attacks, its possible to have stomach pain even without a panic attack.
Also, those with anxiety attacks and severe anxiety are prone to whats known as over-sensitization. That means that they are more likely to notice and feel smaller, normal changes in the body, and these can trigger an anxiety attack. So if your diet does contain foods that cause you gas, stomach discomfort, or mild indigestion, it may be best to avoid them because the slight amount of discomfort could feel worse than it should and may trigger a panic attack.
Thats why healthy eating is important in those that get stomach pain with anxiety. Make sure youre getting:
- Whole-Grain Carbohydrates
Also, if you suffer from stress-induced hyperacidity, then it is recommended that you consume dairy products and non-spicy foods. In moderate amounts, over-the-counter antacids may be needed as well.
In addition, if possible, try to avoid eating until youre too full. Those with severe anxiety sometimes interpret the full feeling as pain, and this could trigger a panic attack and further pain.
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How To Stop Burning In Stomach
Stay hydrated, and avoid foods that trigger the burning sensation you are experiencing. Moreover, you can follow the home remedies listed above to soothe the burning sensation in your stomach.
If these home remedies dont provide your relief, consider going to your gastroenterologist or stomach specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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How To Overcome Abdominal Pain From Anxiety
If youre concerned about your abdominal pain, especially if it is significantly disabling or doesnt appear to let up even when your anxiety has gone away, it never hurts to see a doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose the cause of your pains and discomforts.
There are some strategies you can use to try to overcome this pain. They include:
- Stretching Even though anxiety may be contributing to your muscle tension, the tension is still tension like any other. Stretching is a good way to relieve this tension and make sure that youre not over-straining your muscles in a way that will cause pain or discomfort.
- Healthy Eating While healthy eating cant prevent all indigestion and discomfort, it can prevent some of it. Thats why its valuable to make sure that youve changed your diet to one that is less prone to causing indigestion. Healthy eating, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, does make an impact on stomach pain.
- Exercise Exercise may create pain at first, but over time it will make it easier for your muscles to overcome pain and discomfort. In addition, exercise is a very powerful anxiety reduction tool, so exercise could have added benefits for helping you overcome your anxiety issues.
Of course, the best way to stop your abdominal pain is to stop your anxiety, and the best way to stop your anxiety is to commit yourself to empirically validated treatments.
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Stretching The Neck Muscle
This gentle exercise can be practiced at work or at home, whenever you feel tension in your neck muscles.Sit in an upright position and lift your arms above your head. Bend your elbows so that they are facing the ceiling and your hands positioned behind your neck. Now place your hands on top of one another, with the tips of your fingers pointing down along your spine so that your back is being stretched.
Hold this position for 15 seconds, then release the tension very slowly. Repeat three times with a short rest in between.
The Parents Role Is Key
Its only natural that parents dont want to see their kids in distress or make them go to school when theyre worried that theyll throw up. That puts parents in a difficult spot. What we hear from parents is, We just let him stay home one day and one day led to three months, says Dr. Domingues. Its a slippery slope the child may ask to stay home more and more.
So we work with parents a lot around how to find that balance between enabling anxiety and meeting a child where they are, she adds. And we also give them statements that they can use to be empathic and encouraging at the same time. For instance: I know that this is really hard and you feel like youre sick. But we also know that this is anxiety, and you can get through it.
Sometimes setting up a reward system can help by giving a lot of positive reinforcement for kids pushing through their anxiety.
Parents also face the challenge of tolerating their own anxiety about pushing a child who says she is ill or worried about vomiting. If your kid is in distress and talking about not wanting to go to school or feeling sick or thinking they might throw up, says Dr. Domingues, then youre, as a parent, also anxious that that might happen.
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