Beat Stress To Ease Tummy Troubles
You may have noticed a feeling of unease in your stomach during times of stress. That’s because anxiety and worry can upset the delicate balance of digestion.
In some people, stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation, while in others it speeds it up, causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo. Some people lose their appetite completely.
A solution is to avoid eating when you’re feeling very anxious, stressed or unhappy.
It also helps your digestion if you avoid arguing at the dinner table, as getting angry can put you off your food or make eating harder. Try to keep mealtimes happy and relaxed.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Sometimes, what seems like one problem food poisoning, for example can turn out to be something more serious, like appendicitis.
- the pain is very strong
- you’re vomiting a lot
- you already have another health condition
- the pain gets worse over time, doesn’t go away, or wakes you up from sleep
Also let the doctor know if you:
- have a fever
- have pain when you pee
- have trouble pooping or peeing
- have blood in your poop or pee
- think the belly pain is from an injury
- might be pregnant
Can Stress Cause Stomach Pain
Anxiety and stress are closely related. But they are technically different conditions. It is possible to experience a significant amount of stress without experiencing anxiety. Yet the causes of stomach pain from stress are similar. Muscle tension, digestive issues all of these are also caused by stress and may contribute to stomach pain.
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When Should I See The Doctor
If gastrointestinal symptoms and pain persist for more than a few days, you should consult a doctor. You may be instructed to undertake certain tests or see a specialist if there are signs of a more life threatening medical condition. If you experience abdominal pain and the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible:
- Vomiting blood
- The abdomen is larger than usual and hard
- Rectal bleeding
- You stop having bowel movements
These symptoms may suggest the pain is linked with a biological disease and is not a symptom of IBS or another functional gastrointestinal disorder.
Should I See A Gastroenterologist About My Upset Stomach
If youve been experiencing unpleasant digestive symptoms for 2-4 weeks, it might be time to see a doctor. Perhaps youve tried some of the recommendations listed above but arent getting relief, or maybe you have an underlying feeling that something just isnt right. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that patients should see a doctor if their digestive upset lasts for more than two weeks. You should also see a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following in addition to stomach discomfort:
- diarrhea that lasts for more than two days
- frequent vomiting or vomit that looks like it contains blood or coffee grounds
- pain in the chest, neck, jaw, or arm
- unexplained weight loss
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How To Calm A Nervous Stomach
Given the importance of the psychological process in IBS, it is unsurprising that psychological therapies are an effective treatment option. Several psychotherapies are effective in reducing gastrointestinal distress:
- Gut-directed hypnosis . This hypnosis involves the patient visualizing their gut as a set of slimy tubes and other gut-related imagery. This helps to restore the gut-brain communication to reduce symptoms of IBS. Smartphone-based versions such as Nerva have recently become available, and offer convenient access to hypnotherapy.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy . This skill-based therapy teaches control over negative thought patterns and modifies patterns of behavior. Relaxation techniques help to control the stress response, and cognitive restructuring allows the patient to avoid catastrophizing. These techniques help to reduce the symptoms of IBS.
- Mindfulness-based therapies. This practice involves attending to the present moment and cultivating non-judgemental attitudes. Mindfulness therapies reduce levels of stress and sensitivity to pain, a key symptom of IBS. The effects have been shown to last over three months , although these therapies can be less effective than GDH and CBT.
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 Do Doctors Find The Cause Of A Stomachache
To find the cause of a stomachache, doctors ask about:
- your symptoms
- illnesses you’ve had in the past
- health conditions that other family members have
Be honest with your doctor, even if a symptom seems embarrassing.
The doctor will do an exam and sometimes might order tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or blood test. It all depends on what the doctor thinks is causing the problem.
Anxiety And Stomach Pain
Did you know that your gut and brain are connected? What this ultimately means is that whatever goes on in your brain may affect your stomach. Hence, when you have a stomach ache, it may not be some errant organ in your tummy that is to blame.
It may be, as they say, all in your head.
Abdominal pain can be caused by both external and internal factors. The vagus nerve, which is the tenth cranial nerve , extends from the head to the abdomen. It is also referred to as the wandering nerve.
The vagus nerve connects your mind to your gut and is a busy highway for back and forth communication. Therefore, if there is turmoil in your brain, it can be communicated to your stomach and vice versa.
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Abdominal Pain In Kids: Anxiety
Author:Anna AltavasComments Off on Abdominal Pain in Kids: Anxiety-Related or Something More?
Its not uncommon for kids to complain of abdominal pain around the start of the school year, before a big test, sports game or performance when their stress and anxiety levels can be at an all-time high.
While this may not be a cause for immediate concern for some parents, others may feel uncertain on how to address their childs pain, or may not know that there could be more to it than just a few butterflies fluttering in their childs stomach.
Dr. Nicole Sawangpont Pattamanuch, a gastroenterologist at Seattle Childrens, breaks down the symptoms of abdominal pain related to stress and anxiety, recommends coping techniques for kids to alleviate their discomfort, explains how parents must check out Neuropathy Relief Guide for more information for tested and approved medications and shares red flags to help families determine if there is something more concerning to their childs symptoms.
Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
In fact anxiety is associated with a host of physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with a racing heart, shakiness or sweating symptoms older people experience when theyre having a panic attack.
All these physical symptoms are related to the fight-or-flight response triggered when the brain detects danger. All of them have a purpose, notes , a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. When she talks to kids about anxious headaches or stomach aches, she explains the role of each. For instance, she says, your stomach hurts because your digestive system is shutting down to send blood to other areas of your body. You dont want to be digesting food at that moment because youre trying to either flee danger or fight danger.
Dr. Domingues assures children that these symptoms are not harmful theyre just their emergency system responding to a false alarm. But its important to understand that kids arent necessarily inventing their symptoms, and the danger may feel very real to them. Dont assume a child who spends a lot of time in the nurses office at school is doing it intentionally to get out of class. Their acute anxiety may be causing them pain.
Headaches and stomach aches related to anxiety are still real feelings, and we want to take them seriously, says Ms. Greenspan.
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The Enteric Nervous System
The enteric nervous system refers to the neurons controlling the digestive system. This âsecond brainâ is connected to the central nervous system â the brain and spinal cord. This system relies on neurotransmitters to communicate with the central nervous system and may affect mood.
After sensing food, the nerves of the enteric nervous system communicate with muscle cells to initiate contraction, moving food along the intestines.
In response to stress and in disorders such as IBS, the enteric nervous system may function abnormally. For instance, levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin may be altered, or nerves may become hypersensitive. This may lead to gut symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, or constipation.
Does My Child Have Anxiety Stomach Aches
It may surprise many parents to know that anxiety or stress can often cause a belly ache in kids. In fact, approximately 8-25 percent of children experience ongoing stomach pain that cant be chalked up to illness or digestion. However, this pain is very real and can be a symptom of lifes stresses, which then makes belly aches worse. Whether theyre experiencing issues at home or school, nervous stomach can be the bodys coping mechanism. Long term stomach pain can lead to issues with anxiety and depression. Thats why its so important to deal with them head-on.
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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.
Other Treatments For Ibs
The following treatments are also available for IBS. However, the effectiveness can be lower than for psychotherapies:
- Low FODMAP diet. This diet eliminates common âtrigger compoundsâ of IBS such as fructose and lactose and has been shown effective in treating IBS.
- Antidepressant medication. Low dose treatments of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricycle antidepressants have been shown to relieve symptoms of IBS.
- Peppermint oil. It’s been shown that peppermint oil is a natural anti-spasmodic which means it can relax the smooth muscles in the gut, improving some of the symptoms of IBS.
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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.
Cozy Up Under A Blanket With A Heating Pad On Your Abdomen
Its not a hard sell when you feel like crap, but getting under a blanket with a heating pad on your abdomen can actually help fight gas. Like peppermint, warmth can have an antispasmodic effect on your body and help your intestines to relax instead of contract too hard or too much, lessening that achy sensation that all too often comes along with gas, Dr. Wakim-Fleming says.
And dont worry that lying down means your gas is having to struggle against gravity to exitit makes no difference either way, Dr. Farhadi says.
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Understanding The Link Between Stress And Stomach Aches In Children
Abdominal pain and stress are related in many ways. Having abdominal pain can cause stress, especially when it leads to missed school or other activities. But more often, stress causes abdominal pain, or makes it worse. Do you ever have butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous? Did you ever feel sick to your stomach when you got some bad news? Children feel the same things, but often cant tell where those feelings come from. It took a long a time to understand why my stomach hurt every morning when I turned the corner to my middle school.
Scientists can explain why we have these feelings: the stomach and intestine have their own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system. These nerves respond to the same stress hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains do. We also know that stress and fatigue decrease pain thresholds. This means that a small change, like the passage of a gas bubble, can feel much worse when a person is stressed, tired, and run down. When a person is well-rested and feeling good, he or she might not even notice the gas bubble.
Stress-related eating can worsen pain, too. Which are the comfort foods your child prefers? Are they high in lactose or fructose, such as milk, apple juice, macaroni and cheese, or ice cream? Many people have a poor ability to digest lactose or fructose. Although these conditions are not dangerous, they can be very uncomfortable, causing pain, cramping, bloating, and even diarrhea.
What Does Anxiety Look Like
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for children and adults one in four Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. In some children, it may be more obvious, but in others, it may take a bit longer to determine that they are dealing with anxiety. In my situation, I knew that something was different with my daughter when she was a toddler, but didnt recognize that it was in fact anxiety and kept hoping that she would grow out of it. As her symptoms persisted and became worse, eventually it became clear that she was struggling with anxiety.
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How To Overcome Abdominal Pain From Anxiety
If you’re concerned about your abdominal pain, especially if it is significantly disabling or doesn’t 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 you’re not over-straining your muscles in a way that will cause pain or discomfort.
- Healthy Eating While healthy eating can’t prevent all indigestion and discomfort, it can prevent some of it. That’s why it’s valuable to make sure that you’ve 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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Anxiety Chest Pain Vs Heart Attack Chest Pain
Chest pain is a concerning symptom, and its usually best to seek emergency medical attention if youre experiencing it. Even if the chest pain cause is anxiety, its better to know than to risk missing valuable time if youre having a heart attack.
People describe chest pain in a number of ways when theyre having a heart attack. Some examples include:
- chest pain that radiates to other parts of your body, such as down your arms or up to your jaw
- chest pain that worsens with exertion
- nausea along with chest pain
- pressure in the chest, as if someone has put something heavy on your chest
- rapid heart rate
- shortness of breath
- squeezing sensation in the chest
An estimated 30 percent of patients who are having a heart attack dont have chest pain, according to 2020 research . Some people report symptoms like back pain and fatigue as part of their heart attack symptoms.
While doctors know there is a connection between anxiety and chest pain, you still shouldnt ignore your symptoms and seek medical attention.
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