Courtesy of Reuters Health
People with inflammatory bowel disease commonly believe that stress can trigger their symptoms, and a new study suggests they may be right. Canadian researchers found that among 552 bowel-disease patients they followed for a year, the risk of a symptom flare-up increased when patients were feeling particularly stressed. The findings, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, lend support to what many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have believed to be true. IBD refers to a group of conditions marked by chronic inflammation in the intestines, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. The major forms are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The precise cause of the conditions is unclear, but they are thought to involve an immune system overreaction that injures the body's own intestinal tissue.
While stress does not cause IBD, it is one of the environmental factors suspected of triggering symptom flare-ups in some people. The researchers found that patients' risk of a symptom flare-up increased by more than two-fold when they had reported high levels of perceived stress in the preceding three-month period. Of patients who reported a flare-up, 52 percent had had high perceived stress levels in the preceding three months, compared with 29 percent of those who remained symptom-free.
Bonnie - this is absolutely true. Along with offending foods and some medication, stress is a big contributor to IBD flare-ups.