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HEALTH AND FITNESS
Do You Have The Stomach For Stress?
(by NESHMIA)

Do You Have The Stomach For Stress?

Nerve signals between the brain and bowel go into overdrive when you are tense, leading to serious health issues

Stress can trigger various disorders in the gastrointestinal tract but the symptoms are most often misdiagnosed.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is common. The main risk factors are poor eating habits and stress.
People with IBS have severe abdominal pain and poor bowel movement.
It's a functional disorder and a blood test will not reveal anything. So it is likely the doctor may say you have problem leaving you confused.
A functional disorder like IBS is a lot like having a car which is in running condition but always giving trouble because of dust clogging up its engine.
A majority of doctors, about 50 to 60 per cent, are unable to give proper information to patients about stress and IBS.
Stress affects your stomach because the intestine is connected to the brain. Nerve signals go back and forth between the bowel and the brain. During stress, the nerves become more active and the intestines start contracting and squeezing more than is required. This results in many discomfiting factors like bloating, gas and pain.
If the symptoms (bloating, gas and abdominal pain) persist for three days a month over the last three months, it is definitely a case of IBS.

Cause Of Pain
The onset of IBS is often associated with the change in the frequency of the stool or in its formation and the patient develops diarrhoea or constipation.
It is often seen during exams, a high stress period for children, a student will suddenly begin to vomit or become constipated.
There is pain in the stomach and sometimes people find it difficult to eat food. Other times, the effects are to the contrary and the student becomes bulimic and cannot stop binge eating.
Triggers for gastrointestinal disorders are also linked to emotional stress. If one's personal circumstances are un-happy as during a divorce or the loss of a loved one stomach disorders are likely.
Stress affects individuals differently. For example, a couple have a meal at a restaurant but the symptoms of stomach distress are felt only by one spouse. This is due to hypersensitivity.
Irritable bowel syndrome impacts daily life and can be a life-long condition.
The nature of IBS leads to extremely divergent health problems. While some may suffer from diarrhoea, others may develop severe constipation.

Mobile Living
Everything today is designed to keep us from being mobile. We don't need to go to the bank, we simply drive there. We don't walk to a restaurant; we order in, even bills are paid online. Everything can be done on the computer.
If we could take our car to the bedroom, we will.
The other big problem is internet diagnosis. Constipation, for example, sometimes can lead to ruptures and hence some bleeding. People look for answers on the internet and the information tells them that bleeding from the rectum is a sign of rectal cancer.
They go crazy with fear. Fear is another form of stress. It makes their condition worse.
The other common ailment is heartburn. People routinely mistake it for a heart attack. Because of the gases due to IBS, the stomach inflates and pushes the diaphragm.

Fear Factor
There is a feeling of a decrease in oxygen levels followed by breathing difficulty. That accelerates the heartbeat and you feel as if your heart is about to jump out of your chest.
Heartburn is caused due to gastric juices backing up into the oesophagus which, unlike the stomach, cannot handle acids.
The burning sensation starts in the chest. You feel the need to cough because of a sense of food being stuck in your throat. The lump in the throat is caused by a muscle contraction. The oesophagus usually contracts once, twice, to push food down. A third contraction happens in a condition called oesophageal motility disorder. This third contraction feels like a foreign body and you try to clear it by coughing.
Finally, it boils down to three common sense issues to control IBS: stress management, balanced meals and adequate exercise. All of which are in your control.

TIPS
Seeking Advice
• Consult a GP who will guide you to a specialist.
• Don't allow diagnosis by friends, relatives or seek solutions on the internet.
• Every patient is different and there is no one treatment that fits all.
• Stick to one doctor or specialist or you will get several opinions and be prescribed several drugs and still feel miserable.
• Drink lots of fluids.
• Exercise.
• Eat fibre-rich foods. They are important for your health.
• Weight management is crucial.
• Cut down on coffee.
• Stop smoking.
• Cut down on alcohol consumption.
• Avoid food triggers such as tomatoes, fatty or spicy foods and chocolate.
• Try to control stress.

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