Stress can cause painful stomach symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal discomfort, and abdominal bloating. If it repeatedly interferes with your daily life, you may have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Detailed explanations of symptoms, causes, treatments, etc. under the supervision of a doctor.
Table of contents
- Stress is a major cause of abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation
- What is irritable bowel syndrome
- What to do if you have a stomachache due to stress and how to treat it
- If stress-related abdominal pain is severe, go to the hospital
Stress is a major cause of abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation
The functions of the gastrointestinal tract are controlled by the autonomic nervous system independently of one’s own will.
Stress affects the autonomic nervous system. When the autonomic nervous system is affected by stress and its control function is disturbed, the functions of the gastrointestinal tract also become abnormal, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
Although all organs are affected by stress to a greater or lesser extent, the intestine is said to be the most sensitive organ that is most susceptible to stress. If your stomach cramps, stress may be the culprit.
How Stress Causes Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, and Constipation
When people are stressed, the amount of “corticotropic hormone releasing hormone (CRH)” secreted from the paraventricular nucleus in the hypothalamus of the brain increases. This hormone activates the sympathetic nerves, increases blood pressure and heart rate, and at the same time promotes intestinal motility.
Abdominal pain occurs when the intestines move actively due to strong stress.
Originally, digested food slowly passes through the intestines over about 20 hours, during which the water contained in the food is absorbed into the intestines. This is how the stool becomes moderately hard and is discharged.
When the intestines move excessively due to stress, digested food passes through the intestines faster than usual, so it is discharged without being able to absorb enough water, causing diarrhea and watery diarrhea.
In the case of constipation, this is the opposite, and it is caused by the effect of stress that slows down the movement of the intestines. When digested food remains in the intestine for a long time without being excreted, too much water is absorbed and it becomes hard and difficult to excrete, resulting in constipation.
What is irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS/irritable bowel syndrome) is characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and a feeling of fullness (bloating) despite the absence of inflammation, ulcers, or endocrine abnormalities in the bowel on examination. ), abdominal discomfort, and other symptoms persist chronically.
Sudden abdominal pain and the urge to defecate suddenly occur when people are stressed or tense, such as at work or in relationships. ).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 5 to 10 people in the general population. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person, and it is thought that many people do not realize that they have irritable bowel syndrome because the symptoms are mild.
- Sudden stomach pain on the train, bus, or car while commuting
- Sudden urge to defecate or stomachache in a stressful situation
- Being unable to get out of the toilet because of a stomach ache, being late for work or schedules, being unable to get on the commuter train
- Afraid to go out because of frequent sudden stomach pains while going out or traveling
- Commuter trains always give me stomachaches and defecation urges, so I can only ride local trains
- Constipation in stressful situations, etc.
“I get a stomach ache when I’m nervous, or when I have an important job or schedule…” If these symptoms occur only once in a while, there’s no need to take it seriously.
However, if you have any of the above problems, or if you experience abdominal pain or diarrhea while commuting, working, or going out, and it interferes with your daily life, you may have irritable bowel syndrome. It may be better to have a detailed examination by an internal medicine or an internal medicine doctor.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome has many symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms include stomach pain due to accumulation of gas, inability to hold farts, frequent farts, and abdominal rumbling.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can also appear outside the abdomen.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
Unstoppable belching, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, etc.
- Systemic symptoms
Headache, headache, dizziness, stiff shoulders, back pain, fatigue, etc.
- Psychiatric symptoms
Depressive symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
If you continue to put up with irritable bowel syndrome, it may worsen abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, depressive symptoms, and anxiety, so if you have painful symptoms, go to the hospital early and consult a doctor. It is important to consult with
Types/Types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There are four main types of irritable bowel syndrome.
- Diarrheal type
Diarrhea is characterized by sudden abdominal pain and urge to defecate. Anxiety such as “What should I do if I have a stomach ache here?” Diarrhea is the most common type in men
- Constipation type
Stool is stagnant without being discharged due to intestinal spasm. Even if there is an urge to defecate, it is difficult to have a bowel movement. Constipation type is common in women
- Mixed type
Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Unclassifiable type A type
that does not correspond to any of the above
By symptom, diarrhea type accounts for about 29%, constipation type about 24%, and mixed type about 47%.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Although the cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not clearly known, it is believed that stress, intestinal hypersensitivity, infectious enteritis, and imbalance of intestinal bacteria are the causes.
When stressed, corticotropic hormone releasing hormone (CRH) is secreted from the hypothalamus in the brain, and its stimulation causes abnormalities in intestinal function, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
Some people are not aware of their stress, and it is said that people who are not good at expressing their emotions are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome.
Repeated abdominal pain and diarrhea due to stress make the intestine hypersensitive to stimuli, causing excessive reactions to small stimuli and exacerbating symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome can develop after having an infectious enteritis. The following are bacteria that cause infectious enteritis.
- Salmonella: Eggs are the main source of infection
- Campylobacter, Shigella …… Chicken is the main source of infection
- Norovirus: Infectious enteritis caused by norovirus is likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome even after recovery.
Campylobacter is a bacterium found in the intestines of chickens, cows, pigs, etc. Chickens have a particularly high retention rate, and it is reported that more than 60% of chicken meat distributed contains Campylobacter. Although rare, Campylobacter can cause ‘Guillain-Barré syndrome’, which causes breathing difficulties and weakness and paralysis of the limbs.
imbalance of intestinal bacteria
The effects of antibiotics (antibacterial drugs) disrupt the balance of various intestinal bacteria that live in the intestines, and the toxins produced by bad bacteria make the intestines hypersensitive, which also affects the onset of irritable bowel syndrome. It is believed that
Test/diagnosis method for irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not show any abnormalities in the bowel on examination. Therefore, we make a diagnosis by asking questions such as when the symptoms occur, how the symptoms occur, and how long they last.
International diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome are known as the Rome IV criteria.
Irritable bowel syndrome is diagnosed when abdominal pain has occurred at least one day a week for the last 3 months and two or more of the following are true:
[Rome IV standard]
- Symptoms associated with bowel movements (for example, symptoms improve when you use the toilet)
- Accompanied by changes in bowel frequency (increase or decrease in frequency of going to the toilet)
- Accompanied by changes in stool shape (changes in stool consistency and appearance)
In addition, blood tests, stool tests, colonoscopy, CT, etc. are performed as necessary to check for other diseases.
What to do if you have a stomachache due to stress and how to treat it
From here, we will introduce how to deal with and treat irritable bowel syndrome and stress-related abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
review the diet
It’s important to review your diet to trim the intestinal environment.
Avoid caffeine such as coffee, stimulating foods such as spices, fatty meals, milk and dairy products, and alcohol, as they can make your stomach loose.
There are two types of dietary fiber that are said to be good for constipation: soluble dietary fiber and insoluble dietary fiber. Let’s take water-soluble dietary fiber.
A low-FODMAP diet is attracting attention as a dietary treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are difficult to be absorbed in the small intestine and easily fermented in the large intestine, and it is recommended to avoid these foods.
Foods high in FODMAPs that should be avoided on a low FODMAP diet include wheat, onions, cashews and pistachios, apples, chickpeas, lentils, and dairy products such as milk.
However, if you try to follow a low-FODMAP diet on your own, the nutritional balance will be unbalanced, so you should always consult a doctor or registered dietitian.