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Can Anxiety Make Your Stomach Hurt

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Anxiety and Your Stomach

The more convincing of the several theories for Henry VIIIs transformation from enlightened Renaissance monarch to despotic tyrant attributes his change of character to his sorre legges.

It all started with a fall, when fully armoured, from his horse when jousting, following which he developed ulcers on his legs that would persist with frequent infective exacerbations until his death 12 years later. The stench apparently was so strong it heralded his arrival from three rooms away.

It did not help that, after a lifetime of serious eating and drinking, he tipped the scales at an estimated 28 stone, which would have prevented the effective return of the blood from the legs to the heart, resulting in what would now be called venous insufficiency.

There is no doubt that varicose veins due to incompetent valves can also predispose to venous insufficiency and leg ulcers. These can now be treated with a new procedure pioneered in this country by vascular surgeon Eddie Chaloner of Lewisham Hospital in south London.

The standard procedure, as many will know, involves a high tie of the vein, following which it is stripped. This, as can be imagined, is not a lot of fun.

The new method, by contrast, is apparently painless aside from the pinprick of local anaesthetic through which a rapidly rotating catheter is introduced.

Take Stock Of The Situation

Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.

Are you worried about something you cant control? Are you fearful of an outcome thats unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you cant control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.

How Do I Know If Its Anxiety And Not An Ulcer

Its not uncommon to find yourself concerned that your struggle with stomach pain is not from anxiety or stress at all. For example, you may find yourself concerned that instead of anxiety, what you are really struggling with is an ulcer.

Only a doctor can diagnose whether or not your pain is from an ulcer, but there are some clues. The clearest signal is if you have any blood in your stool or acid burps . Thats often a clear sign of an ulcer. Also, if the pain or discomfort tends to occur after eating and isnt related to a similar condition, GERD , its possible you may have an ulcer.

However, this is complicated by the fact that ulcers can be caused by long-term stress and anxiety, as they stimulate the production of extra stomach acid. This excess acid in the stomach breaks down the gastric or intestinal lining and cause open wounds that may harm your health.

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Bloating & Gas Caused Due To Anxiety

Although bloating and gas is directly associated with indigestion, they are also considered to be different problems in their own way. A person suffering from anxiety and stress are likely to have gas and bloating problems. Since the nutrient processing is affected due to stress and anxiety, it may lead to bloating and gas; but sometimes bloating and gas can also be caused due to other factors like air swallowing, which is the common symptom of anxiety attack, especially hyperventilation. Hyperventilation and air swallowing leads to air buildup in chest and stomach and this increases the chances of belching and flatulence. The person may also experience significant discomfort and pain.

Problems Fighting Off Germs

Can Anxiety Cause Stomach Pain?

Your body may not beat back infections so well when you worry. Even just thinking about something that made you angry or sad can lessen the response of your immune system — the body’s defense against germs — in as little as 30 minutes. Anxiety that stretches over days, months, or years can take an even bigger toll on the immune system, making it harder for you to fight the flu, herpes, shingles, and other viruses.

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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.

How Can You Distinguish Indigestion From Stress

It may be challenging to differentiate stress-related abdominal pain from other forms of abdominal pain. They often present similar symptoms with the same intensity. And they can be linked.

Using probiotic supplements is your best bet to help control symptoms if you have food-related or common digestive issues. Chew your food thoroughly, slow down while you eat, and opt for easily digestible foods. Once your digestion is improved, it will be simple to tell if stress is elevating symptoms or creating your stomach pain.;

Stomach pain can be a combination of stress as well as regular indigestion because of the connection between your mind and your gut. The gut microbiome is a critical portion of this link. There are 3 to 5 times more serotonin receptors in the gut than the brain. This may be the reason why the gut microbiome is closely linked to our mood state. So even if it begins as a physical ailment, stress can deteriorate any pre-existing stomach pain.;

Another way to narrow down your primary triggers is by creating a daily pain diary with your doctor. When you begin to experience stomach pain, write down what foods youve consumed, the time of day, your current emotional state, and what kind of physical activity youve participated in. All of these points can help your physician conclude why you may be having pain.

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Tips To Reduce Anxiety Or Worry And De

Become a better breather. Stress can cause shallow breathing, which means that your body wont get enough oxygen to fully relax. Learn to breathe more slowly and deeply from your abdomen. One way to do this is to imagine that you have a small beach ball behind your belly button, which you slowly inflate and deflate.

Watch your self-talk. Much of our anxiety is self-induced, meaning that we often get ourselves wound up worrying about worst-case scenarios or blowing small incidents out of proportion.

Monitor your negative thoughts to see how often you fret about things such as losing your job, or making mistakes. If you find yourself obsessing, try to substitute a negative thought with a positive, but realistic one. For example, instead of thinking, I know something will go wrong during my presentation, tell yourself, No matter what happens, I can handle it.

Get physical. Exercise is a well-known tension reducer and can help relieve symptoms. The paradox is that strenuous, high-impact exercises might induce GERD symptoms, so take care to increase exercise slowly and assess your bodys tolerance to this as you do.

Have a good belly laugh. Laughter is a natural stress reliever that helps to lower blood pressure, slow your heart and breathing rate, and relax your muscles. How do you tickle your funny bone? Catch comedies, have a chuckle with a friend, and make an effort to look on the lighter side of life.

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The Timing Of Your Symptoms Matches Up

How to Stop an Anxious Stomach

The Cleveland Clinic’s website explains that the causes of IBS are not fully understood. Often, though, people who have been diagnosed with IBS, associate the condition with having a so-called “nervous stomach” or having other symptoms of anxiety. If your IBS symptoms like diarrhea, gas, pain, constipation, or urgently needing to use the bathroom seem to only happen when you are anxious, you might need to treat your anxiety, to find some relief.

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Techniques For Calming Down

Here are some of the techniques clinicians teach anxious children, adapted from CBT and mindfulness training:

Deep breathing: Drawing in air by expanding the belly, sometimes called belly breathing, helps kids relax by slowing breathing, and reducing the heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. It can also help relax tense stomach muscles.Mindfulness exercises: Techniques such as focusing on whats around them, what they see and hear, can help pull children away from the anxiety and ground them in the moment.Coping statements: Children are taught to talk back to their worries, Ms. Greenspan explains. They can say, Im feeling scared and I can handle it. Or something along the lines of, Im bigger than my anxiety.Coping ahead: Children are taught that when you have to do something that makes you nervous, it helps to anticipate that you might have some discomfort, and plan what you can do to counteract it, knowing that if you can push through it, it will get easier.Acceptance: This involves acknowledging the discomfort without fighting it. Instead of trying to push the feeling away and get rid of it, Dr. Domingues explains, we ask you to hold onto it and tolerate it and get through it.

Diarrhea From Anxiety: How Does It Happen

The Gut-brain axis is the two-way link between your gut and brain and is responsible for anxiety-related digestive issues such as diarrhea. The axis is the connection between your central nervous system and your guts nervous system. The guts nervous system controls the gastrointestinal tract processes and can also impact your emotions through its connection to your brain.

When you are anxious, or under stress, signals are sent from the brain to the gut. The gut responds in the form of physical issues such as nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Since its a two-way connection, if you have an upset stomach or other digestive problems, anxiety and distress are common outcomes.

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Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain

Certain anxiety disorders can cause feelings of chest pain.

Chest pain is not a common symptom of the general anxiety you feel here and there.

However, if you suffer from a type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder, you may experience feelings of chest pain during a panic attack.

The most important consideration any time you’re experiencing chest pain is the possibility of heart attack, which is a medical emergency.

Unfortunately, panic attack symptoms and heart attack symptoms can feel similar. So, whether you have a history of panic attacks or not, you should go to the emergency room if you’re experiencing chest pain.

Pay Attention To Your Gut

Childhood Stomach Aches Linked to Adult Anxiety  Health ...

The gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation all of these feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut.

The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause;or;the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected.

This is especially true in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.

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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.

Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed

You should be seeing your primary care;physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.

If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.

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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.

Anxiety And Stomach Pain: The Basics

4 Ways Stress Could Be Hurting Your Stomach Tips For Relief | Dr. Roshini Raj

Stomach pain as a result of anxiety can happen at any time, even if you dont feel anxious at the moment. If you had a stressful day, its possible to wake up the next morning or throughout the night with a rush of symptoms.;

The adrenal glands are located on your kidneys. They produce hormones that your body needs to function, like those associated with the immune system, blood pressure, and stress. One of them, cortisol, is an essential hormone that suppresses inflammation and helps with blood pressure. Its also the reason you might have a nervous stomach.;

Cortisol can cause the fight or flight response, which is the part of our;body responsible for assessing a threat and responding. This speeds the heart rate and gives the body a burst of energy or strength. Youve probably felt a cortisol release if youve ever been in a life-threatening situation like a car accident or house fire.;

For people living with anxiety, their bodies can constantly be in the fight or flight stage. With excess cortisol pumping through their veins, gastrointestinal distress can occur. Stomach cramps, nausea, and abnormal bowel movements are all common reactions to stressful events or underlying anxieties.;

No matter the circumstances, there are tons of options to help manage this condition. This is where pain relief and management comes in.;;

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Managing Stress Anxiety And Over

  • Breathe deep. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, then another. Let each breath out slowly. Repeat as needed.
  • Light exercise. Walking and stretching can soothe a stressed-out body or an over-excited mind.
  • Meditate. Focus on your breathing and whats happening around you right now.
  • Take a time out. Distract yourself with something you enjoy, like TV, gardening, playing with pets, or a visit with friends.
  • Visualize. Picture yourself facing and conquering fears. For example, see yourself succeeding in that meeting.
  • Get support. Call up a sympathetic friend or family member and talk.
  • Make a plan. Just thinking about how youll handle a problem can help you begin to feel in control.
  • Eat and drink right. Alcohol can make stress and anxiety worse. Overeating can pile guilt and nausea onto an already overwrought situation.
  • Rest up. Whether its stress, anxiety, or excitement taking your body on a roller-coaster ride, the unchangeable fact is you need to rest and recharge. So daydream. Take naps. And, always get a good nights sleep.

Sometimes you need a little more assistance to manage the stomachache, nausea, or other physical symptoms of stress, anxiety, and excitement. Heres a few expert tips that may help.


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Surely you’ve experienced butterflies when you’re nervousor that dreadful “pit” in your stomach. But maybe you’ve experienced even worse stomach issues from stress and anxietylike diarrhea, gas, bloating, or even abdominal pain.

It’s no coincidence, gastroenterologist Dr. Roshini Raj says.

“Stress can really negatively affect our health in so many ways, but particularly our gut,” she explains. “When we are under chronic stress, we release hormones, and one is called cortisol. Cortisol is a nasty hormone that can increase your propensity for weight gain, your risk for Type 2 diabetes. It can also cause a lot of digestive problems.”;

“There really is an interplay between your gut and your brain, and they’re constantly in conversation with each otherso much so that if you’re anxious and you’re nervous, it can really affect the functioning of your gut,” the doctor continues. “We call the gut the ‘second brain’ or your ‘little brain.'”

“There are four levels of ways stress can affect your digestive tract or your gut,” she adds. And Dr. Raj is going to break each level down, with ways to approach and help each.;

  • Nervous stomach, butterflies, pit at the bottom of stomach
  • Upset stomach/diarrhea
  • Stomach pain/discomfort
  • What causes a “butterflies” feeling in your stomach?

    For tips on what you can do to avoid or calm a nervous stomach, get Dr. Raj’s advice here + her favorite types of calming teas here.

    Can you get diarrhea from stress?

    How can I balance the bacteria in my gut?

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