Can Stress Cause Heartburn?


Generally, when people think of heartburn, they think of foods.  We all have a good familiarity with the types of foods that cause acid to form in the stomach and trigger bouts of heartburn/acid reflux.

However, is it always food?  Can it be caused by something else…something that’s not food or drink related at all?

What about stress?

Now we’ve written blogs on eating healthier at school, work or football games. However, those are also places and events that can cause some stress as well.

So, can heartburn be CAUSED by stress?

The best and easier answer is probably YES AND NO.

Stressing out isn’t necessarily going to cause acid to form in your stomach that immediately charges into your esophagus and throat.  In most cases, you’re going to need something in your stomach first.  That leads us to the more “yes” part of the answer to the question.

Stress can compound the effects of heartburn or acid reflux.  It also can enhance the odds of acid reflux while you’re eating or doing something else that can trigger heartburn.

Think about this…when people stress out, how do they tend to cope at times?

Drinking alcohol
Drinking coffee

These are all habits that can trigger heartburn without the stress.  So, if stress is added into the equation, it just means the odds and symptoms of heartburn can get worse.


Well, for one…stress can affect how quickly your body digests food.  If food is not getting digested at a good pace, heartburn can become an immediate side effect.

Digestion is an example of how the brain and the stomach are in sync.  If you’re mentally stressing out, other functions tied to the brain are affected.  It’s been shown that when stress is a dominant presence in your mind, you even become more susceptible to pain.  So, when acid is running up your throat, it may even be more painful than usual.

The easy remedy to this problem is obviously trying not to stress out often (especially while eating).  Outside of that, it’s best to heed some of the best anti-heartburn advice that’s available, including eating a healthier diet, getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, controlling weight and other tips.

If you have questions about the causes of heartburn in your life, call us 832-324-3100.