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Can heartburn be caused by anxiety?

Hi, can anyone put my mind at ease, please?  I have had terrible anxiety in the past, which I have had counselling for, and I have been able to control it to a degree during the last few years. I am very familiar with anxiety symptoms, why they happen (adrenaline) etc., and I have experienced many of the typical symptoms before.  Usually they trouble me until I can learn to accept that they are only anxiety related, and not physical, and eventually, if I can let them pass without adding second fear, they have gone away.  However, I have been experiencing heartburn and the old 'globus hystericus' lump in the throat feeling during the past few weeks. A locum GP whom I had never met before (very nice, very young lady) prescribed PPI medication for a month, which has helped a lot since I started taking it last week.  However, she did say that if symptoms persisted whilst taking the meds, or if they came back once they were finished, I was to go back to my own GP, who may want to refer me for investigations.  I go to the gym most days, and today, when I was there, I noticed that my heartburn had reappeared, and it is still here an hour later. I also feel like I have to burp all the time. This has thrown me into a panic in case this means I have something sinister, like cancer or something.  I do acknowledge that I have had a particularly stressful few months, as my Dad is ill, and it is a very upsetting and worrying time.  He has had dementia for 8 years as a result of complications during heart surgery, but he has deteriorated badly since March, and is now in a care home. The trouble is his memory span is so short, that every day he wakens thinking my Mum and I must have died, and he gets very upset because he just wants to go home. He has no insight into his dementia at all - he thinks he is normal, and keeps asking to go home.  He gets terribly upset, despite us visiting him every day.  By the time we have left the building, he has forgotten we have been there, and he thinks we have forgotten him. I know I am coping on the surface, but inside, I am aware that I am feeling vey stressed, sad, guilty and upset.  I also have a very busy family life, with a wonderful husband and three fantastic sons, and I work from home part time, so I am often rushing around all over the place.  But I have let myself get into such a state about this heartburn thing.  I do have IBS, which I have had for a long time, and I had a stool test this year which came back normal, but I am still so anxious and worried about the heartburn symptoms.  Has anyone else felt like this?  Thanks.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
You are probably bringing on your heartburn by worrying.  When you are stressed more acid builds in your stomach which then causes heartburn.  I feel the same way and pop a tums and that relieves my worry and the heartburn.  But if it keeps getting worse definitely  have some further testing.  I never had heartburn until a few months ago when I first started having panic/anxiety attacks so I'm sure it related.  I hope this helps....keep me posted
Avatar universal
Digestive problems seem to plague all of us who suffer from anxiety.  We don't chew our food slowly enough, we overeat, we eat what we know we shouldn't, we eat too fast, we lie down too soon after eating.  America is a very stressed out place.  Then we get medication which makes it worse, setting off a cycle of increasing acid production.  This happens because suppression of acid in the stomach, as Tums and all pharmaceutical products for the stomach do, forces the stomach to produce more acid in order to digest protein, which requires an acidic environment for digestion.  I don't know how to keep the heart burn away completely, but you can ease it by watching what you're eating, not exercising or sleeping or lying down too soon after eating, and chewing your food more slowly.  As for treatment, stay away from the pharmaceuticals for this particular problem, and try aloe juice and digestive enzymes from your local health food store.  They will help without forcing the rebound acid that pharmaceuticals do.  There are other remedies as well -- DGL, slippery elm, lots of them.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
Thank you both for your replies.  I appreciate your feedback so much, and I will keep you posted.  
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