How does holiday stress affect the digestive system?

Neal E. Rakov, MD
Digestive system issues such as non-ulcer stomach pain or dyspepsia can be exacerbated by holiday stress. Stress can also be linked to other conditions associated with digestion, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), another functional disorder with symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramps. Sometimes a person’s gut or intestinal system becomes hypersensitive. The nerves of the gut represent a large nervous system of its own.

However, stomach problems are not just the result of large family gatherings, hectic shopping and the stress associated with busy holiday schedules. It’s also about over-indulging. During the holiday season, people tend to eat larger meals and more fatty meals, along with more chocolate and rich desserts. That could present problems with people who tend to suffer from functional dyspepsia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.