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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Bowel Problems -

Anxiety may lead to stomach upsets

Bowel ProblemsDec 06, 05

Anxiety induced under experimental conditions alters gastric function and nerve sensations, Belgian and UK researchers report, and this may give rise to some gastric disorders.

“Our data suggest that anxiety status should be taken into account when dealing with patients with long-standing stomach symptoms without readily identifiable organic cause,” Dr. Jan Tack told Reuters Health.

Tack, at the University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, and colleagues point out that anxiety is commonly associated with certain gastric disorders. However, it has been unclear whether this is because certain people are prone to both conditions, or whether one leads to another, the investigators explain in the journal Gastroenterology.

To look into the issue, the researchers enrolled 14 healthy volunteers who underwent gastric testing in a darkened room while under neutral or anxiety-provoking conditions.

Anxiety was induced by projecting images of fearful facial expressions. At the same time, through headphones, the volunteers listened to personal anxiety-provoking experiences they had described earlier and were asked to recall these experiences.

Gastric function was measured by placing an inflatable balloon in the stomach, which showed that gastric elasticity was significantly reduced during the anxiety phase. Moreover, the balloon volume that caused sensations of gastric distention was significantly lower during anxiety, even though balloon pressures were not altered by anxiety.

In addition, meal-induced relaxation was inhibited by anxiety.

The researchers conclude that psychological factors may play a part in producing dyspeptic symptoms in some patients. Nevertheless, added Tack, this will need to be studied specifically in such patients.

SOURCE: Gastroenterology, November 2005.

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