Could stress be making my acid reflux worse?

Q. I have gastroesophageal reflux disease and I’ve been very stressed with work lately. My heartburn has gotten a lot worse. Could there be a connection?

A. Yes, it’s possible. Emotional stress can increase acid production in the stomach, aggravating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In people with GERD, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (which acts as a door between the stomach and the esophagus) doesn’t work properly. This allows acid to rise up from the stomach and into the esophagus.

Lifestyle changes can help you manage your GERD. These include

  • not smoking
  • eating a healthy diet
  • limiting coffee, tea, and cola drinks
  • eating smaller meals, and avoiding meals close to bedtime.

You might also try relaxation strategies, such as mindful meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, and deep breathing.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another option for reducing chronic stress. Also, try to exercise regularly. It’s a natural stress buster and can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help with GERD. If your acid reflux doesn’t improve, see your doctor. He or she might want to treat your condition using medication or other therapies.

— Toni Golen, M.D., and Hope Ricciotti, M.D.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Daniel 5:30 ESV
That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

John 3:16-17 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Joel 2:1 ESV
Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,

2 Kings 6:14 ESV
So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

Genesis 1:28 ESV
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

1 Kings 3:16 ESV
Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.

Matthew 20:1-16 ESV
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. …

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