(StatePoint) The sinking economy not only is dominating headlines, but new research from the American Psychological Association found that stress initiated by the nation’s economic troubles also is causing Americans to develop increasingly poor eating and sleeping habits.
Poor eating and sleeping patterns can exacerbate common conditions like heartburn. Dr. Goutham Rao, board member of the National Heartburn Alliance, says that it can be difficult to keep health in mind when feeling stressed, but that good health becomes even more essential at this time.
“So often I find my patients treat the symptoms, but they rarely focus on the core problem: stress. While you can’t always eliminate the sources, there are simple steps to take to help mediate stress so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on your health.”
Dr. Rao offers tips on how to manage your stress levels during this difficult economic time:
• A significant proportion of American adults don’t get enough sleep. Poor sleep is an important part of good overall health. Some basic tips include practicing good sleep hygiene. Maintain regular bedtime and wakeup times seven days a week. Avoid eating or drinking just before bedtime (which can bring on heartburn.) Sleep in a quiet, dark room (don’t sleep with the TV or radio on.) Some patients experience heartburn relief by sleeping with the head of their bed elevated, so that they are on a slight incline.
• The combination of stress and fatty foods can cause a variety of digestive issues. Over-the-counter products, such as Pepto-Bismol, can provide relief for stomach problems like nausea, upset stomach and indigestion, while a PPI such as Prilosec OTC blocks the production of stomach acid to treat the symptoms of frequent heartburn. Both products are less costly alternatives to prescription medications.
• Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, improve sleep and control your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to help prevent heartburn. Instead of heading to the nearest fast food joint, try going to the gym for 30 minutes each day. Riding a bike or walking should produce fewer heartburn symptoms and will do wonders for your health and stress level.
• Caffeine can make heartburn worse for some people. Try to limit your consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages to no more than two cups per day.
• Maintaining good health is, of course, the best way to avoid expensive health care. Eating healthy, avoiding smoking, exercising regularly and developing effective ways to cope with stress are all extremely important. .
For more information on heartburn and lifestyle factors that can impact heartburn