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Stress and diarrhea: Understanding the relationship between stress and diarrhea - how to manage it.

Uppdaterat: 26 juni 2023

Diarré Toalett och Toapapper

When stressed, our body and nervous system can react in various ways, affecting many systems in the body, including the digestive system. A common reason for experiencing diarrhea during periods of stress is that stress can impact the function and motility of the intestines.

Causes 1. Hormones

Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, which is involved in our fight-or-flight response. When this system is activated, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released. These hormones can affect the muscular contractions and motility of the intestines. Normally, there is a coordinated movement in the intestines that helps propel food through at a steady pace. However, during periods of stress, this system can become overactive, leading to faster passage of food through the intestines, resulting in diarrhea. 2. Gut Microbiota

Stress can also impact the gut microbiota, which refers to the microorganisms that normally reside in our intestines and contribute to healthy digestion. The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in breaking down food and producing substances important for intestinal function. Stress can lead to changes in the gut microbiota, including a decrease in certain beneficial bacteria and an increase in other less desirable bacteria. These changes in the gut microbiota can affect intestinal function and contribute to diarrhea. 3. Lifestyle changes

In addition to the direct physiological effects, stress can also influence our lifestyle and dietary habits. During times of stress, we may tend to change our eating patterns and consume meals less regularly or opt for fast food. We may also consume more coffee or alcohol, which can have an irritating effect on the intestines and contribute to diarrhea. Stress can also impact our sleep quality, which can indirectly affect intestinal function as sleep is important for balanced digestion. 4. Other reasons

It is important to note that individual reactions to stress can vary, and multiple factors can influence gastrointestinal function, including diet, lifestyle, health conditions, and genetics. Some individuals may be more sensitive to developing diarrhea during periods of stress, while others may not experience any symptoms at all. It is also important to note that stress-related diarrhea is usually temporary and resolves when stress levels decrease or when the body returns to its normal state.


What can i do about it?

There are several things that can help with diarrhea, including:

1. Fluid replacement: Drink enough fluids, such as water, sports drinks, or electrolyte solutions, to compensate for the fluid loss caused by diarrhea.

2. BRAT diet: Follow a gentle diet consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT diet), which can be easier for the stomach to handle during diarrhea.

3. Probiotics: Probiotic supplements or foods like yogurt can help restore the natural gut flora and improve digestive health.

4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods: These can irritate the stomach and worsen diarrhea.

5. Medication: For more severe or prolonged diarrhea, medications like loperamide (Imodium) can be used, but it's best to consult a doctor before taking any medication.

6. Chew food thoroughly. Chewing more mindfully will signal to your body to stress down 7. Manage your stresslevels: To manage stress, there are several strategies you can try:

  1. Identify and understand your stress triggers: Pay attention to the situations, events, or thoughts that tend to cause stress for you. By recognizing your triggers, you can develop strategies to better cope with them.

  2. Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation.

  3. Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your schedule.

  4. Prioritize self-care: Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

  5. Seek social support: Talk to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist about your stress. Sharing your feelings and concerns with others can provide support and perspective.

  6. Practice time management: Organize your tasks and responsibilities to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. Prioritize important tasks and break them down into manageable steps.

  7. Set boundaries: Learn to say no to excessive commitments and demands that may contribute to stress. Establish healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life.

  8. Engage in activities you enjoy: Find hobbies or activities that help you relax and recharge. This can include reading, listening to music, spending time in nature, or pursuing creative outlets.

  9. Take breaks: Allow yourself regular breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Step away from work or stressful situations to give yourself a mental and physical break.

  10. Seek professional help if needed: If your stress becomes overwhelming or starts to negatively impact your daily life, consider seeking support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and assistance.

Remember, finding effective stress management techniques may require some experimentation to discover what works best for you. Be patient and persistent in implementing healthy strategies to reduce and manage your stress levels.

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