Nervous Diarrhoea: How Does Stress Disrupt Our Gut Health? Solutions?

Do you know the famous “ball in the stomach”, which brings you to the guts before an exam, a job interview or any other stressful situation? Please note that in some cases it may be responsible for temporary diarrhea. We take stock.

Nervous diarrhea: what are we talking about?

Diarrhea is characterized by the abnormal emission of stools that are too liquid, too soft, too frequent, and/or too large. Its causes can generally be varied: a viral origin, a pathology itself (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc.), an infection due to a parasite, a bacterium (salmonella, shigella, etc.), or simply stress. .. In the latter case, and after ruling out all other possibilities, we can speak of nervous diarrhoea.

Unlike chronic diarrhea, which persists for more than four weeks, nervous diarrhea is usually related to occasional stress, and occur in acute attackswhen we are tense.

In some cases, however, they can take the form of chronic episodes, if the anxiety itself occupies an important place in the life of the affected person and is established in the long term.

In addition to the change in the appearance and consistency of the stool, other symptoms may occur:

  • fecal incontinence accompanied by a strong and frequent urge to defecate;
  • bloating, cramps, intestinal spasms and flatulence;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • a feeling of dizziness, or even a feeling of general malaise;
  • and signs of dehydration (pale complexion, sunken eyes, decreased vitality, dry mouth, drop in blood pressure, etc.).

Stress-related diarrhea: when to consult?

If the stress remains occasional, the accompanying diarrhea will also be occasional. But when some very anxious people show long-term bouts of diarrhea (chronic diarrhea), it’s best to see a doctor! Sometimes seizures alternate with episodes of constipation.

Note: “Any episode of diarrhea of ​​relatively recent onset, persisting after travel, transit that has changed for several weeks, the presence of blood and mucus, significant weight loss, etc. it should lead to a consultation quickly”, warns the French National Society of Gastroenterology (source 1).

Why does stress make you go to the bathroom?

Normally, stool is made up of 60-90% water, which is supposed to be absorbed by the digestive system when the stool passes through the large intestine. Prayed, stress acts on the movements of the intestines and accelerates the transit, which does not give enough time for the digestive system to absorb water normally. In other words, the water gets mixed with the stool and the stool becomes particularly liquid. Therefore, the rectum cannot hold them for long. Hence the incontinence and diarrhea in case of panic or nervousness.

In addition, stress very often causes a change in eating habits: we tend to give in more easily to the call of fats and sugars. Know that too rich or too copious foods can directly impact the digestive system, or aggravate pre-existing intestinal disorders.


Manage stress to prevent diarrhea attacks.

If your diarrhea is related to occasional stress (exams, scary dates, office presentation, etc.), address this cause directly. Anticipate and ask yourself about the reasons for your fear. When the time comes, sophrology exercises, mindfulness meditation or a simple musical break for a few minutes, while we breathe calmly through the belly, can help calm the crisis.

On a day-to-day basis, activities such as yoga, walking, cycling, drawing, sewing, shopping, reading, going to the movies, etc. they can calm you down. It’s up to you to find what relaxes you. You can benefit from the help of a psychologist.

What drugs to limit symptoms?

If symptoms of diarrhea are already present, Do not forget hydrate (water, juice, tea, broth, etc.) to compensate for the loss of water and mineral salts.

Some drug treatments can reduce excessive bowel activity and improve fluid absorption within hours. Ask a health professional about the intensity of your symptoms. Antispasmodics can also reduce abdominal pain.

What to eat in case of diarrhea in adults?

Adopt a diet that takes care of your intestines and does not aggravate the symptoms: soups, broths, cooked vegetables with little fiber, certain fruits such as ripe bananas…

Avoid raw meat and fish, unpasteurized milk and cheese, shellfish, and high-fiber foods.

How to stop diarrhea naturally?

  • herbal medicine : blackberry tea or even blackcurrant and cranberry juice;
  • aromatherapy : essential oils of green mandarin, chamomile, shell marjoram or Ylang Ylang, for example, against stress;
  • Food supplementss: brewer’s yeast or probiotics, to reconstitute the intestinal flora.

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