As of writing this article, COVID-19 has reached Pandemic status and is has confirmed cases in the millions. A lot of people have contacted me recently, citing the stress of coronavirus as the cause of their reflux.
Acid Reflux Statistics
According to the CDC, on March 11, 2020 the Novel Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While certainly not a pandemic, Acid Reflux is an epidemic in its own right.
According to AboutGERD.org, this disease affects hundreds of millions of people globally. Based the below percentages and associated populations, this potentially anywhere from 359 to 727 million people globally!
- 18 to 28% North America
- 9 to 26% Europe
- 3 to 8% East Asia
- 9 to 33% Middle East
- 12% Australia
- 23% South America
Can Stress Cause Acid Reflux to Flare Up
Now, it’s widely known that stress can both cause and exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux. Sadly, these days there are plenty of stressors out there:
- Global economic downturns
- Human rights issues
- Plague of locusts in Africa
- Massive earthquakes
- Murder hornets!
- Sahara dust cloud
For us Americans, there is no clear end in sight (as shown in this chart form Johns Hopkins):
In contrast to the pandemic situation in North America, acid reflux sufferers are not necessarily in it for the long haul. If you’re like me, you’d rather not join the 15 million Americans who will take acid reflux medications for the rest of their lives.
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Stress Cough Symptoms
To achieve escape velocity you have to first understand the true root causes of reflux and address the problem at the source. So, let’s start by explaining effects stress and anxiety have on your body, and how they trigger the onset of acid reflux.
- Increased Abdominal Pressure – According to Medical News Today, stress and anxiety cause lasting muscle tension. When this tension occurs in muscles surrounding the stomach the added pressure push acid up towards your esophagus.
- Indigestion – Dr Tonia Winchester explains that, as a threat response to stress, your body diverts blood away from non-vital organs (including the gut) to the brain. This it reduces the secretion of all digestive enzymes and stomach acids. As a result, foods sit on your stomach for extended periods of time, leading to indigestion. Furthermore, low acidity allows for proliferation of bad bacteria and pathogens that can rob your body of nutrients and who’s digestive process creates excess gas, that can lead to bloating, and expressing stomach contents up through excess belching.
- Impaired LES function – As covered in this Healthline article, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a “ring of muscle around your lower esophagus that relaxes to allow food and liquid into your stomach and closes to prevent the contents of your stomach from flowing back up.” Your body uses the increased acidity that occurs during digestion as a signal to close the muscles that are not under voluntary control. When your acidity is compromised, your body loses the ability to close the LES, thus allowing food contents to reflux up into the esophagus.
- Reduced Stomach lining – “In addition, it’s known that people who are stressed can have a drop in levels of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins, which can help coat the lining of the stomach and protect it from acid.” – Health.com. A compromised stomach lining introduces a host of stomach problems, including nausea and ulcers.
- Increased Sensitivity – Lastly, while the cause is not well understood, researchers believe that stress increases your sensitivity to “smaller amounts of acid in the esophagus.” – Healthline.com. An article from the National Institutes of Health goes on to say “The mechanism of visceral hypersensitivity in functional gastrointestinal disorders and functional heartburn remains unclear.”
Under normal circumstances, your bodies digestive system is a well conduced symphony of biochemical signals, beneficial bacteria, digestive enzymes, high acidity, etc.. Sadly, this well oiled machine can be thrown off track by stress or any of the other risk factors I cover in my 11 Proven GERD Risk Factors (And How To Stop Them) article.
Cure for Acid Reflux
To get things back on track without the use of prescription or over the counter medications, you can take a combination digestive enzymes, Hydrochloric acid, and apple cider vinegar supplements with meals. This combination directly addresses indigestion, supplements your body’s natural production of hydrochloric acid, and introduces pre-biotics to stimulate the return of beneficial gut bacteria.
These are the exact brands that I took for 8 weeks to get rid of my reflux for good:
If you would like more information on the root causes of reflux and how they can be treated, read my 5 Amazing Supplements for Acid Reflux (That Work Fast!) article.
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