Stomach palpitations/spasms is a type of stomach problem that is linked to indigestion and unhealthy eating habits. This disorder causes stomach discomfort and pain. People experiencing stomach palpitations feel something similar to a pulse around their stomach area. For some people, stomach spasms may be a mild nuisance, but for others, it can be a serious condition.
The stomach is one of the most important organs of the body, as it digests the food we eat, and supplies nutrition to different parts of the body. Stomach problems also affect the normal functioning of the lungs and heart. When indigestion occurs, the stomach expands or swells with gas. In such cases, the person is likely to have stomach spasms and may even experience shortness of breath.
Unhealthy eating habits are considered to be the main cause of stomach spasms. Exposure to undue stress (job related pressure) can also cause this stomach problem. Other causes are as follows:
- Excessive consumption of beverages that contain high levels of caffeine
- Alcohol abuse: Too much drinking, or consuming alcohol on an empty stomach
- Irritation in the stomach due to gastrointestinal upsets
- Constipation: Infrequent bowel movement that is typically marked by defecation of hardened stools can put a lot of strain on the stomach muscles, eventually causing palpitations. The palpitations are likely to intensify during a strenuous bowel movement.
- Junk food: With the increasing popularity of fast food, stomach problems such as stomach palpitations have become common. The younger generation's penchant for junk food is putting them at a greater risk of various diseases related to the stomach. Having spicy food or heavy meals can also cause upset stomach after eating, which may lead to insomnia, and ultimately to stomach palpitations.
- No fixed meal time: An irregular eating schedule causes a negative impact on the wall of the stomach, leading to a burning sensation and the occurrence of stomach ulcers. This gives rise to discomfort in the form of stomach spasms.
- Starvation: The stomach secretes juices to help digest food. However, for people who do not eat food, or starve, these juices may harm the stomach wall, giving rise to stomach palpitations.
- Indigestion: Indigestion that causes buildup of gas in the stomach can also irritate the vagus nerve, as its branches come in contact with the stomach. Now, it is a known fact that the vagus nerve is involved in regulating the heartbeat. So, when the vagus nerve gets irritated, it can cause both heart and stomach spasms.
- Change of Emotions: Over excitement, moments of nervousness, sadness or happiness can give rise to the feeling of stomach spasms. Some people are very nervous before conducting an important event. These fluttery, nervous feelings can often lead to this stomach problem, commonly known as "butterflies in the stomach".
- Medications: Consuming unsuitable medicines, or taking medicines on an empty stomach is also known to cause this problem.
In most cases, stomach spasms have been linked to stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Facing a stressful situation or anxious moments and the body reacts by secreting stress hormones into the body. This is how your body responds when dealing with stressors. For instance, when you notice a threat to your life in a particular situation, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are immediately released that signal you to react spontaneously. Thus, in order to overcome the situation, you may either start running away (at a very fast pace) from the source of danger or face it and respond in a positive way.
Stress hormones also provide anti-inflammatory effect and ensure that the immune system does not secrete histamines that contribute to inflammation. More importantly, these stress hormones stimulates the nerves that control functions of the heart and the stomach. The induced stimulations can trigger palpitations in any of these organs. No wonder during stress, we often feel increased heart rate and stomach palpitations.
If the stomach is not healthy, it not only causes stomach palpitations, but also leads to weakness and anemia. A slight change in the choices of food can restore stomach health. In other words, it is important to keep an eye on the diet. Excessive smoking should also be avoided, as it can cause stomach upsets.
Diet should include foods rich in fiber to relieve constipation and ensure smooth bowel movement. Vegetables such as broccoli, peas, carrots, and fruits such as oranges, strawberries and bananas can easily move through the digestive tract, thus helping the digestive system to function properly. Stomach spasms caused due to excitement or stress are temporary and disappear quickly.
Lifestyle modifications that include fixed eating hours, along with regular exercise can also prevent stomach palpitations and help you to lead a better life.