Can Stress Give You Ulcers?
Reader's Digest Canada|November 2021
Most people believe it can, but the answer is more complicated
Anna Sharratt

Stress levels have increased during the pandemic. Could that be the cause of an ulcer?

Although it’s a commonly held belief that psychological stress can burn a hole in your stomach, it’s not actually true. When we’re stressed, our body’s level of cortisol rises, causing our stomach to contract and feel pain—but it can’t cause an ulcer.

According to Dr. Dan Sadowski, a professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Alberta, stressed-out people often simultaneously experience dyspepsia, or indigestion, which leads to belching, bloating and burning pain. Although stress isn’t a cause, the flood of cortisol causes you to feel pain more keenly. And, on top of that, when we’re stressed we may be apt to drink more alcohol, which exacerbates the problem. Thankfully, in the majority of cases, you can successfully treat dyspepsia symptoms with over-the-counter antacids.

So if stress doesn’t cause ulcers, what does?

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