“Stress diarrhea” or “anxiety diarrhea” are two terms you may not have heard, but you are pretty familiar with them, but how? Well, stress diarrhea is simply diarrhea caused by stress or anxiety. There is a strong connection between the human body and stress. When you feel stress or anxiety, your nervous system responds by releasing more cortisol (a stress hormone) and adrenaline to trigger your body for the action.
Doctors and scientists have and still finding connections between stress and its effects on the human body. We know that stress can cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, etc. But, do you know that stress can cause serious harm to our digestive system as well? Also, it is pretty much possible that you can get diarrhea from stress.
Well, if it is something that concerns you and you want to know more about it, then read on.
What Is Diarrhea, and What Are Symptoms Of Stress Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a medical condition in which the patient experiences loose and watery stools. Diarrhea itself is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying medical problem. Here are some common symptoms of diarrhea;
- Loss of bowel control
- Feeling an urgency to empty the bowls.
- Cramping and abdominal pain.
Generally, there are two types of diarrhea; acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea usually lasts 1-2 days, but chronic diarrhea may last for 4 weeks or even more. There can be several reasons behind chronic diarrhea, so it is better to consult a doctor to find the underlying cause. Here are some major causes of acute and chronic diarrhea.
- Overactive thyroid
- Bowel cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease
- Food intolerances
- Gastroenteritis or food poisoning
- Nervousness, stress, or anxiety
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Stress And Diarrhea; What Is The Connection Between Them?
Our digestive system and stress are strongly connected. Stress affects the functioning of muscles in the intestines and bowels. This ultimately disturbs the filtration process of harmful gut bacteria, but our immune system tries to rescue this situation with inflammatory responses.
However, if this keeps on going for longer periods, our intestines fail to properly filter out the bacteria, and the nervous system reacts in the form of more inflammatory responses, which ultimately cause diarrhea. If a person is suffering from stress diarrhea, he/she may also face these symptoms.
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sleep problems
- Change in sex drive
- Muscle tension
Treating Stress Diarrhea
Diarrhea from stress is basically a symptom of stress rather than a disease. Therefore, you need to treat the underlying cause (chronic stress) rather than just addressing the symptoms only. Here is how you can treat diarrhea from stress.
1- Avoid Spicy Or Rich Foods
Spicy, rich foods make your digestive system toil hard to digest. If you are suffering from diarrhea, then consuming these types of foods will worsen your problem.
2- Eat Plain Carbohydrates In Small Portions
Plain carbohydrates are easily digestible, and they can easily get the fluids in your body. Cooked rice and pasta are good options when you have diarrhea.
3- Keep Yourself Hydrated
Diarrhea can easily dehydrate you, and you may end up losing important body salts such as potassium and sodium. Therefore, you need to hydrate yourself by consuming plenty of water. You can also take juices and soups to maintain a sufficient level of potassium and sodium in your body.
Over-the-counter medicines can help you cure diarrhea, but if the problem gets worse, you need to consult a doctor immediately.
5- Practice Stress Management Techniques
Diarrhea is a symptom, but the actual cause is stress. That means you have to manage stress as well. You can practice different stress management techniques to overcome or minimize this problem.
Stress is not something you should take lightly, especially chronic stress. Stress diarrhea is basically a symptom of chronic stress, so it is better to cure the symptoms as well the underlying cause (chronic stress).