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Can Stress Cause Stomach Problems?

Learn if stress can cause stomach problems from gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu, M.D. in this Howcast video about digestive disorders.


Absolutely stress can play a huge role in digestive disorders, especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome, and it can also happen to people who don't have irritable bowel syndrome. We have two brains -- the central nervous system, which is understood as our brain and our spine and the nerves that innervate our body, but we also have the enteric nervous system, which is a very delicate nervous system within our digestive tract. A lot of the same hormones exist in both systems, and they do interact, so when we're feeling a lot of anxiety or stress, those same hormones pulse through our enteric system and can cause what we think of, or what we call, 'butterflies in our stomach' or 'nervous stomach,' so there's definitely a relationship. Some people can get constipated, or they can get pain, or they can get diarrhea with stress, so it's important to understand that, and when we do need to do something that's very stressful, be very cognizant of it, and maybe do some deep breathing or some relaxation methods to try to help with those symptoms.

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