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Anxiety / Stress

How to recognize an anxiety attack

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Anxiety can grow when a person is afraid that something bad will happen. This is a non-medical term referring to a feeling of anxiety or worry that is often related to a particular problem or concern.

Anxiety has been linked to stress. This also includes physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, as well as feelings of anxiety and concern.

It’s different from a panic attack which is a panic disorder symptom. Anxiety is often related to a single occurrence or circumstance, though this is not always the case.

Whereas, a panic attack may occur without any clear cause and the symptoms are much more serious than the anxiety symptoms.

However, if the stress and anxiety levels remain for a long time, there could be more issues.

Important facts about anxiety

  • An anxiety attack usually involves a fear of some specific occurrence or problem that could happen.
  • Symptoms include worry, restlessness, and possibly physical symptoms, such as changes in heart rate.
  • Anxiety is different from a panic attack, but it can occur as part of an anxiety or panic disorder.

Anxiety attack versus panic attack

Anxiety can be a panic symptom but it’s different from a panic attack.

What are the differences?

Exams and workplace stress can lead to anxiety.
Exams and workplace stress can lead to anxiety.

Here are some of the features that distinguish them.

An anxiety attack, or anxiety:

  • can have a specific trigger, such as an exam, workplace issues, a health issue, or a relationship problem
  • is not a diagnosable condition
  • is less severe than a panic attack
  • usually develops gradually when a person feels anxious
  • involves physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or “knot in the stomach

A panic attack:

  • does not have a specific trigger
  • can be a symptom of panic disorder, a diagnosable condition
  • has severe symptoms
  • can happen whether a person feels calm or anxious
  • involves physical symptoms and feelings of terror so intense that the person fears a total loss of control or imminent death
  • often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and last between a few minutes and an hour, although the negative impact may continue

The word “anxiety attack” is not specified in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM-V) of the American Psychological Association ( APA).

Yet panic attacks are however, a symptom of panic disorder in the DSM-V. The panic condition should only be treated by a trained doctor.

Difference in symptoms

Both panic and anxiety may involve terror, heart beating or pacing, lightheadedness, chest pain, breathing difficulties and irrational thoughts.

These are however even more serious in a panic attack. The person may honestly believe they’re going to die.

When a person experiences a panic attack or an anxiety disorder a person is more likely to need medical attention.

Differences in how they start

Anxiety may be an response to a specific worry or fear. It tends to grow slowly, and at the beginning, an individual is typically concerned or worried. It can be moderate, medium or extreme. There might be a feeling that if this problem alone can be solved, then everything will be perfect.

Without warning a panic attack will happen and there is no way to avoid it. Whether or not a person feels relaxed or anxious, and even during sleep may happen. Sometimes there’s no apparent cause, and the level of fear is out of proportion with the trigger. In fact, according to the APA, the reaction is unrelated to the situation.

Differences in duration

Anxiety is also correlated with a particular situation. This continues to build up and carry on for a while.

A panic attack immediately starts, symptoms peak after 10 minutes, and typically decreases after about 30 minutes, though the effects may last longer. Anxiety does not usually peak in this way, but some people with anxiety may advance to panic attacks.

Can anxiety lead to panic?

A person with a panic disorder may have fear that they may be having a panic attack. The confusion about whether or when an attack will occur may lead to anxiety between the attacks.

Anxiety can cause a panic attack on an person with panic disorder. The fear of getting a panic attack can affect the actions and ability of the person to work in daily life.

The APA indicates there may be a panic condition underlying biological factor but a clear marker has not yet been identified by scientists.

Symptoms of anxiety

Headaches and muscle tension can result from anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • worry and apprehension
  • restlessness
  • sleep problems
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • sadness
  • feeling pressure and hurried
  • Physical symptoms include:
  • changes in heart rate
  • tension in the head or neck
  • headache
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • sweating
  • dry mouth
  • tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing
  • trembling or shaking
  • feeling faint

Almost all anxiety cases will contain all of those signs. Depending on the cause and how the person responds to it, anxiety may be mild , moderate or severe.

For example , some people may feel slightly apprehensive when faced with an exam, while others may experience all of the above symptoms.

Typically symptoms go away as the danger or perceived threat passes.

Anxiety that lasts for a long time or is caused by particular incidents may be a symptom of another disorder, such as a disorder of social anxiety.

Causes

Anxiety often results from stress or feeling overwhelmed.

Common causes of anxiety include:

  • work pressure
  • financial pressure
  • family or relationships problems
  • divorce, separation, or bereavement
  • concerns about parenthood or being a caregiver
  • problems coping with administrative issues or technology
  • changing life situations, such as moving house or changing jobs
  • reduced mobility or physical function
  • loss of mental function, for example, short-term memory
  • having a diagnosis of a chronic health condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, and others

It can also be linked to another factor or health condition, such as:

  • social or another phobia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • genetic factors
  • major stress or susceptibility to stress
  • changes in the brain
  • a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • excessive caffeine use
  • the use of some medications
  • a recent or past traumatic experience

Triggers of anxiety could include:

  • public speaking
  • exposure to a phobia trigger
  • a fear of having a panic attack

Sometimes, anxiety can also stem from a psychological disorder.

Types of anxiety disorder

There are several anxiety disorders listed as multiple. Each has various types of symptoms which can be caused in certain cases by particular circumstances.

Panic disorder (PD): At least two panic attacks are involved, followed by the persistent fear of potential assaults. People with panic disorder can lose a job, refuse to travel or leave home, or avoid something that they feel may cause an anxiety attack altogether.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): It is a persistent state of anxiety over a variety of individuals life events or behaviors.

Phobic disorder: It involves an incapacitating and irrational anxiety about an object or circumstance, such as fear of spiders or open spaces (claustrophobia). Many people with phobic disorder know their fear is unfounded.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and actions (compulsions) are associated with this condition.

Complications

The answer that contributes to stress and anxiety is built to help us cope in temporarily arising, challenging circumstances.

Adrenaline is the substance involved in responding to fight-or – flight. A sudden release of this hormone trains the body to run away from danger or physically fight the danger.

Under normal conditions, levels of adrenaline quickly return to normal until the anxiety is removed. And, if the anxiety persists and the levels of adrenaline remain high, there may be more issues.

Persistent stress and anxiety can lead to other problems, such as:

Continuous stress has been related to immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive problems.

Problems of physical health which may occur include:

When it is stressful or recurrent it is necessary to take action or seek treatment to relieve stress and anxiety.

Lifestyle tips

Tips for managing stress and anxiety include:

It is important to take time out to relax.
It is important to take time out to relax.

Know the signs: You might be able to take some action if you know when to recognize the signs that you’re stressed or overly anxious. Headaches, an inability to sleep or overeating can all be signs that it’s time to take a break or ask for assistance.

Know your triggers: You will be able to take action if you can learn to understand what makes you feel anxious. Maybe you did take on too many tasks? Can you please ask anyone to help? Would alcohol or coffee make it worse? Consider cutting down.

Diet: Too much fast food or too little exercise can result in a busy lifestyle. Try to make time to sit down for a healthy meal, or take a home-made lunch with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to the office, rather than grab a burger.

Exercise: To sit in front of a computer screen for long periods of time or while driving takes its toll. Try a 30-minute break and take a day’s walk to boost your sense of wellbeing.

Learn some methods of relaxation: Relaxing exercise, meditation, and other approaches can help to relieve stress and anxiety. There is some evidence that aromatherapy use can help to relieve stress, but further work is needed.

Try a new activity: Music, meditation, gardening, or joining a chorus, yoga , pilates, or other group can ease stress and take your mind off your worries for a while. You may come across people with similar concerns with whom you can share your feelings.

Be social: spend time with friends and family or find a place where, for example, by volunteering or joining a support group, you can connect with others. You may find that they can offer emotional and practical support, as well as remove your mind from the problem at hand.

Set goals: For example , if you feel frustrated by financial or logistical issues, sit down and make a plan. Set goals and objectives as you address them and cross them off.

Treatment

Treatment options for anxiety and related problems include:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • medications, such as some types of antidepressants
  • support groups for people with specific conditions

Someone who feels overwhelmed by stress or anxiety should see a counselling health professional. Getting assistance early can help prevent other issues from arising.

It is important to see a properly trained and skilled person when you are considering seeking medical help. This website offers a toolkit on how to find a licensed psychologist in your city.

If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The line is available 24-hour, 7-day weekly. Both calls are handled confidentially.

Anxiety / Stress

What’s the link between anxiety and high blood pressure?

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Anxiety and high blood pressure might also be signs of something else. High blood pressure can be caused by anxiety, and anxiety can be caused by high blood pressure.

Anxiety is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as feelings of worry or stress. It might induce physical symptoms, including perspiration and an elevated heart rate. Anxiety, according to the APA, can raise a person’s blood pressure.

Furthermore, long-term high blood pressure, often known as hypertension, can make people worry about their health and future. Anxiety can also be caused by severe hypertension, according to Trusted Source.

Continue reading to learn more about the connection between anxiety and high blood pressure, as well as treatment options for both.

Is it possible for anxiety to trigger high blood pressure?

anxiety in girls

The body’s natural response to stress is anxiety. Anxiety might arise before an exam or when awaiting important information.

Anxiety is caused by the production of stress hormones by the body. These hormones cause a rise in heart rate as well as a constriction of blood vessels. Blood pressure can rise as a result of either of these changes.

According to a 2015 study, people who have high levels of anxiety have a greater risk of hypertension than those who have lower levels of worry. Early diagnosis and treatment of anxiety are especially important in people with hypertension, according to the researchers.

Worry-induced blood pressure rises are generally just temporary and disappear as the anxiety subsides. High amounts of worry on a regular basis, on the other hand, can harm the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels in the same way as long-term hypertension can.

Anxiety-related hormone changes can lead to increased fat accumulation in the long run, particularly around the belly. Anxiety can also cause behavioral changes in people, such as stress eating, which can lead to hypertension indirectly.

Additionally, certain anxiety drugs might raise blood pressure. Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are used to treat anxiety disorders, have been found to raise blood pressure, according to research published in 2017.

Is it possible for high blood pressure to trigger anxiety?

Some people may experience anxiety as a result of having high blood pressure. When a person is diagnosed with hypertension, they may be concerned about their health and their future.

Furthermore, hypertension symptoms might trigger fear or worry. Hypertension can cause the following symptoms:

  • vision changes
  • headaches
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • buzzing in the ears

Anxiety can also be a side effect of severe hypertension. If a person has severe anxiety and other symptoms like a headache or shortness of breath, they should seek medical help right away.

Low blood pressure and anxiety

There is no proof that anxiety reduces a person’s blood pressure at this time. Low blood pressure, on the other hand, might make a person uneasy or concerned.

Low blood pressure symptoms are often confused with anxiety symptoms. The following are symptoms of both low blood pressure and anxiety:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • fainting
  • difficulty concentrating

Anxiety or changes in blood pressure?

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between worry and variations in blood pressure. The majority of the time, hypertension does not create any symptoms. This suggests that a person’s blood pressure should be examined on an important basis.

Low blood pressure can cause symptoms that are comparable to those of anxiety. If a person isn’t sure if their symptoms are caused by worry or low blood pressure, they should consult a physician.

People with severe or repeated symptoms of either should also contact their doctor. A doctor will be able to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms and prescribe any therapies that are required.

Anxiety treatments

Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. It’s possible that a person will need a mix of these therapies.

Medication

Anxiety symptoms can be alleviated with a variety of medications. For various people, different medications will work. Among the possibilities are:

  • buspirone, an anti-anxiety drug
  • certain antidepressants
  • benzodiazepines, which are sedatives used to treat anxiety for a brief period of time
  • beta-blockers, It helps the heart to beat more slowly and gently.

Psychotherapy

People can control their anxiety symptoms by working with a psychotherapist.

One of the most successful kinds of psychotherapy for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches people how to adjust their thinking habits in order to minimize anxiety and worry.

Individuals acquire anxiety-management methods and are gradually exposed to events that provoke it throughout CBT. In these instances, the person will feel less afraid and worried as a result of this.

Changes in your way of life

An individual can adopt lifestyle modifications to assist lessen anxiety. To aid alleviate anxiety, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends the following:

  • eating a nutritious balanced diet
  • exercising at least 20 minutes per day
  • setting goals and rewards
  • avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • getting a good night’s sleep
  • learning a new skill
  • having a support system
  • practicing mindfulness
  • trying to reduce negative thoughts, countering them with positive ones

High blood pressure treatment

A doctor may prescribe a treatment plan for someone with hypertension. This treatment approach may include dietary modifications, medication, or a combination of the two.

Changes in your way of life

To reduce blood pressure, a person can undertake a variety of lifestyle modifications, including:

  • avoiding or limiting alcohol
  • reducing salt intake
  • eating a heart-healthy diet, which is rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • exercising regularly
  • quitting smoking, if they smoke
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • managing stress
  • getting good-quality sleep

Learn about 15 natural ways to lower blood pressure here.

Medication

High blood pressure can be treated with a variety of medications. These are some of them:

  • angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which prevent blood vessels from narrowing as much
  • angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), to stop blood vessels from narrowing
  • calcium channel blockers, which allow blood vessels to relax
  • diuretics, which remove excess water and sodium from the body
  • beta-blockers

A person’s pharmaceutical needs are determined by a number of factors, including their overall health and the severity of their hypertension. To keep their blood pressure under control, some people may require more than one type of medicine.

When should you seek assistance?

Individuals who believe they may be suffering from anxiety, hypertension, or both should consult a physician. Severe symptoms should be treated right once since they might suggest a medical emergency.

Observe the following signs and symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • back pain
  • difficulty speaking
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • numbness or weakness
  • muscle tremors

Outlook

Both hypertension and anxiety are conditions that can be effectively treated. Hypertension does not always occur in people who suffer from anxiety.

However, receiving care as soon as feasible can help people with either condition have a better outcome and lower the chance of consequences.

Is it possible for high blood pressure to be caused by stress?

Anxiety is a stress reaction. Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released in response to stress. The “fight-or-flight” response is triggered by these hormones, which prepares the body to either run or confront the perceived threat.

A person’s fight-or-flight hormones might lead them to:

  • worry
  • nervousness
  • increased blood pressure
  • anxiety
  • increased heart rate

The bodily systems of a person should return to normal once they have coped with their stress. Long-term stress, on the other hand, can lead to health issues such as:

  • stomach pain
  • fatigue
  • inability to made decisions
  • memory issues
  • increase in blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • increase in fats in the blood
  • weight gain
  • weakened immune system
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • lack of sleep
  • diarrhea

Conclusion

Anxiety and high blood pressure have been linked. Anxiety can lead to hypertension, especially if the anxiety is severe on a frequent basis.

Having high blood pressure might cause anxiety in certain people.

When one condition is treated, the chances of the other improving are high.

Individuals who believe they have one or both of these conditions should seek medical advice for diagnosis and treatment.

Sources:

  • https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  • https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470361/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327212
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure
  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411016/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6233698/
  • https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/stress-and-your-health
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5958156/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683798/

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Anxiety / Stress

Globus pharyngeus: What are the causes?

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Globus pharyngeus, also known as “globus sensation” or “globus,” is a sensation of something being lodged in one’s throat. Globus can be a sign of a variety of illnesses.

Healthcare practitioners used to think of globus as mostly a psychological condition, according to a 2017 report in the journal Frontline Gastroenterology. However, studies have shown that it can be a sign of both psychological and physical problems.

Although globus is not painful, it can be inconvenient and have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life.

This page explains what a globus sensation is, how to treat it, and what produces it. The article also discusses what else could be generating the sensation and when to seek medical help.

What exactly is the globus sensation?

globus sensation

Despite the absence of a physical blockage, Globus can make a person feel as if they have a chronic lump in their throat.

People may describe the sensation as something constricting their throat, according to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom.

It is, however, exceedingly common and is not a reason for concern.

Globus can also cause a person to have the following symptoms:

  • itches in their throat.
  • The swelling of the throat
  • Persistence clearing of the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic cough
  • Catarrh, which is a build-up of mucus in the nose, throat, or sinuses,

During times of stress, the symptoms may worsen.

Causes

The actual cause of globus is unknown at this time.

It can, however, happen as a result of stress and anxiety, especially when people are suppressing intense emotions.

According to a 2015 article, up to 96 percent of people with globus noticed that symptoms exacerbated during periods of high emotional intensity.

In addition, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common reason (GERD). According to the authors of the article, 23–68% of people with globus also have GERD. The globus sensation might be caused by GERD symptoms such as heartburn.

Other medical problems that might produce globus include the following:

  • cricopharyngeal spasm, which is a type of muscle spasm that happens in the throat
  • hiatus hernia, which is when a part of the stomach moves up into the chest
  • sinusitis, which is inflammation of the sinuses
  • post-nasal drip, which occurs when the glands in the throat and nose continually produce mucus
  • a swollen thyroid gland, or goiter

Hypopharyngeal cancer may be the cause in extremely uncommon situations.

Similar and related conditions

There are a number of illnesses that are comparable to globus. These are some of the conditions:

Dysphagia

The term “dysphagia” refers to difficulty swallowing. This could indicate that a person is completely unable to swallow, or that they are having difficulty safely ingesting food or drink.

Dysphagia can cause the following symptoms:

  • coughing
  • choking
  • clearing the throat
  • the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • weight loss
  • preference for liquid and semisolid food

Odynophagia

Odynophagia is a condition in which a person has pain during swallowing.

Odynophagia is a condition that happens when the esophagus or oropharynx, which is the region of the throat directly behind the mouth, becomes infected or inflamed.

Achalasia

Achalasia is a rare condition in which a person has trouble swallowing. Achalasia is a condition in which a person’s esophagus has difficulty transporting food into their stomach. This means that food can get stuck in the esophagus, resulting in:

  • dysphagia
  • mild chest pain
  • intense pain
  • regurgitation
  • coughing during the night
  • significant weight loss

How common is globus pharyngeus?

Globus is a prevalent medical complaint that accounts for about 4% of new referrals to ear, nose, and throat clinics, according to Trusted Source.

According to research from 2017, 12.5 percent of otherwise healthy people in the United States have globus. Furthermore, among those under the age of 50, globus appears to affect females more frequently than males. It affects both men and women over the age of 50, according to the authors.

According to researchers, up to 75% of people with globus may endure symptoms for years. It’s possible that this is due to the difficulty in diagnosing globus. It can be difficult for a doctor to discover a suitable treatment if the reason of a person’s globus cannot be determined.

When should you see a doctor?

The sensation of a big lump in the throat might be terrifying. Globus, on the other hand, is not a significant condition with no long-term health repercussions.

A person who is concerned about globus can benefit from speaking with a medical practitioner.

If you have globus and the following symptoms, you should see a doctor very away.

  • neck or throat pain
  • bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • weight loss
  • pain or difficulty swallowing
  • muscle weakness
  • a physical mass in the throat or mouth
  • a progressive worsening of symptoms

Treatment

There are no particular therapies for globus because there is no identified cause. When globus is caused by another medical condition, addressing that condition may help to cure it.

To help ease the discomfort and relax the throat muscles, the NHS recommends that you do the following:

  1. Swallow when the throat feels uncomfortable, with or without water.
  2. Yawn with the mouth wide open often.
  3. Move the jaw up and down and open the mouth at least two fingers wide.

A person can also try the following steps a few times a day:

  1. Sitting or standing, a person should shrug the shoulders up to the ears, hold the position, release, and repeat.
  2. Turn the head to the left, slowly and gently. Bring the head to the center and lower the chin to the chest. Raise the head, turn it to the right, and then bring it back to the center. A person can repeat this four times.
  3. Drop the head to the chest, and keep the mouth open. Gently roll the head in a circle and repeat in the other direction.

People should also:

  • take antacids if they experience regular acid indigestion
  • avoid clearing the throat as this can aggravate it further, and drink some water instead
  • try to yawn if the desire to clear the throat is strong

A healthcare professional may recommend the following treatment options:

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI)

PPIs work by lowering a person’s stomach acid levels. PPIs are prescribed by a doctor to treat heartburn and acid reflux.

Those with globus, on the other hand, may require more vigorous and extended PPI medication, which can have undesirable side effects. In addition, 55.6 percent of people with GERD and globus were resistant to PPI treatment, according to researchers in a 2015 study.

Other acid blockers, such as H2 blockers, may be prescribed by a healthcare practitioner.

Speech therapy

According to research, globus can be efficiently treated with speech therapy that involves relaxation techniques.

According to a 2017 study, 72 percent of people with globus who had speech therapy experienced complete remission. However, because of the limited sample size in this study, more research is needed.

Psychological treatments

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy used to address psychological disorders that might manifest as physical symptoms.

Antidepressants may be helpful as well. Therapy with serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can be an useful treatment option for patients with mild symptoms, according to a study published in 2021.

Conclusion

The sensation of having something trapped in one’s throat is known as globus. Despite the fact that it is usually not serious, it can cause concern and lower a person’s quality of life.

The actual reason for this is unknown. There are, however, some conditions that are linked to globus. If these disorders are the cause of globus, treatment may help.

There are a number of illnesses that are comparable to globus. It’s not like these conditions in that it doesn’t produce discomfort or make swallowing difficult.

A person should consult a doctor if they are concerned about globus. If you have globus and other significant symptoms, you should consult a doctor very away.

Sources:

  • https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/achalasia/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559174/
  • https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/dysphagia
  • https://www.hey.nhs.uk/patient-leaflet/globus-sensation/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318633
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6056082/
  • https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-44360-7_8
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4582871/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5137314/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400352/
  • https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00405-020-06544-0

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Anxiety / Stress

Bruxism or teeth grinding: All you should know

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When a person is not chewing, they grind or clench their teeth, which is known as bruxism. It normally happens when sleeping, although it can also happen throughout the day. A lot of the time, a person isn’t even aware that they’re doing it.

Teeth grinding is the act of rubbing the teeth against one other when eating. Clenching occurs when a person clenches their muscles and holds their teeth together without moving them back and forth.

People can clench or grind their teeth at any time of the day or night. According to the Bruxism Association of the United Kingdom, 8–10% of the population suffers from it.

The symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of bruxism are discussed in this article. We also go through the distinctions between bruxism while sleeping and bruxism while awake.

Awake bruxism

Because it is not a sleep condition, awake bruxism differs from sleep bruxism. It’s more of an unconscious habit.

Teeth grinding is not always the result of awake bruxism. People are more inclined to clench their teeth or strain their jaw muscles instead. Aching around the jaw, dull headaches, and stiffness are all symptoms of awake bruxism. In cases when there is no grinding, however, the condition may not wear the teeth as much.

Awake bruxism occurs involuntarily, much like sleep bruxism. When people are concentrating or stressed, they may notice that they are more prone to it.

Sleep bruxism

Sleep bruxism

A form of sleep disorder is sleep bruxism. When people are awake, they may notice the following signs of sleep bruxism:

  • broken or loose fillings
  • clicking, popping, or grinding noises when moving the jaw
  • worn teeth
  • jaw pain and stiffness
  • a dull headache
  • sensitive, loose, or broken teeth
  • facial pain

People can also experience ear pain because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — the joint that allows the jaw to open and shut — is very close to the ear. Referred pain occurs when a person feels pain in a location other than the cause of the pain.

People who have bruxism during sleep may not be aware that they are clenching or grinding their teeth, but those who sleep nearby may be able to hear the sounds.

What are the causes of bruxism?

Bruxism may not usually have a single, obvious cause, but it is linked to a multitude of circumstances. Depending on the kind of bruxism, these factors differ.

Primary bruxism

Primary bruxism is not caused by another ailment and happens on its own. The following are some of the known factors that contribute to it:

  • Growing teeth: Bruxism is common in young children, with up to 40% experiencing it, usually when their teeth are growing. However, because the teeth and jaw grow quickly during childhood, the bruxism usually resolves on its own without causing lasting damage.
  • Misaligned bite: In some people, bruxism may happen because either a person’s bite is not aligned or they have missing teeth. Irritation in the mouth may also contribute to grinding or clenching.
  • Stress: One of the main causes of bruxism in adults, whether it occurs during sleep or when awake, is stress. A 2020 systematic review found that there was a significant association between stress and bruxism, but more research is necessary to understand the relationship.
  • Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine: A 2016 review of previous research found that the use of these substances was also associated with bruxism. People who smoked or drank alcohol regularly were about two times more likely to have bruxism, while those who drank more than 8 cups of coffee per day were 1.5 times more likely.

Secondary bruxism

Secondary bruxism occurs as a result of another medical condition or circumstance, such as:

  • Mental health conditions: Anxiety and depression are associated with bruxism. This association may be due in part to stress, which can contribute to these conditions.
  • Neurological conditions: Conditions such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease can cause movement during sleep, which may result in bruxism.
  • Medications: Bruxism can be a side effect of certain medications, including some antidepressants and antipsychotics. A 2018 study found a link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and bruxism. Fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) were the most common culprits out of the studied drugs.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition that causes breathing to stop temporarily during sleep. It can reduce sleep quality and cause frequent arousals, which may be why it is a risk factor for bruxism. By disturbing sleep, sleep apnea may promote teeth grinding or clenching.

What are the long-term effects of bruxism?

Long-term damage from bruxism may cause:

  • tooth sensitivity, due to enamel wearing away
  • gum inflammation or bleeding
  • loose teeth
  • damage to dental work, such as crowns and fillings
  • flattened or short teeth
  • tooth fractures
  • TMJ syndrome, which causes pain, tension, and difficulty chewing

Diagnosis

A dental examination can help a dentist identify bruxism. It is possible that they will notice:

  • worn tooth enamel
  • flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth
  • loose or damaged crowns and fillings

Tooth wear can also be caused by too vigorous brushing, abrasives in toothpaste, acidic soft beverages, and hard meals, but only a skilled expert can distinguish between the different wear patterns.

Treatment

Bruxism can be treated using a variety of therapies and strategies. These are some of them:

Mouthguard or mouth splint

To prevent the teeth from injury while sleeping, a dentist may prescribe wearing a mouth splint or mouthguard. These devices can aid by distributing pressure evenly across the jaw, creating a physical barrier between the teeth, and minimizing grinding noise.

Bruxism mouthguards are often made of flexible rubber or plastic. A dentist can custom-make one for a person’s teeth, or they can purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) version. The over-the-counter versions may be less comfortable.

Splints for the mouth are usually composed of a harder plastic and fit over the teeth. Some splints are designed to go over the top teeth, while others are designed to fit over the bottom teeth. A splint may retain the jaw in a more relaxed position or act as a barrier, causing damage to the splints rather than the teeth, depending on the design.

Generic mouthguards are not recommended for sports since they might be bulky and cause severe discomfort.

Medication

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen can help reduce the discomfort and swelling caused by bruxism.

In rare cases, a doctor may prescribe a prescription to relax the muscles and break the cycle of teeth grinding for a brief period of time. This method allows the jaw muscles to relax, which may help to alleviate discomfort.

If bruxism is a side effect of a medicine, a person should talk to their doctor about switching to a different one. Never stop taking a drug or modify the dosage without first visiting a doctor.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a sort of treatment that helps people become aware of and manage involuntary body processes such as breathing and heart rate.

There isn’t much data on biofeedback’s usefulness in treating bruxism, but a 2018 review found modest evidence that a specific biofeedback tool called contingent electrical stimulation alleviated symptoms after several nights of usage.

Botox

In severe cases of bruxism, injections of botulinum toxin, or Botox, can be used to paralyze the muscles that cause tooth grinding while sleeping. Botox, on the other hand, can be costly, and frequent injections are required to maintain the results.

Treatment for underlying conditions

If a person with bruxism also suffers from stress, anxiety, or depression, finding treatment for these issues may help them stop grinding their teeth.

Typically, these mental health disorders are treated with a mix of talk therapy and medicine to alleviate symptoms, but because some SSRIs can produce bruxism as a side effect, a person may choose to start with therapy first.

If a person has a disorder like sleep apnea, for example, discussing with a doctor about it may help them receive a diagnosis and treatment. To reduce sleep interruptions, some people with sleep apnea benefit from utilizing a continuous positive airway pressure equipment.

Prevention

Self-care may be able to help people with primary bruxism lessen or prevent symptoms. They could, for example, try:

  • avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
  • refraining from chewing gum, as this may increase wear and tear or encourage more grinding
  • applying gentle heat to the jaw to relieve pain and tension
  • reducing avoidable stress and taking steps to manage unavoidable stress

Stress can be caused by external events and situations, but it can also be caused by how people interpret those experiences. In any instance, there are options for dealing with it.

Seeking help, setting aside time for relaxation, and practicing mindfulness can all be beneficial. Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation people may also be beneficial.

Questions bruxism

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions concerning bruxism.

Can bruxism cause tinnitus?

There’s a chance that bruxism and tinnitus are connected. Tinnitus can develop if the TMJ is injured, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Tinnitus can be caused by bruxism since it directly affects this joint.

Is bruxism inherited?

According to an older analysis of previous research, there is some evidence that bruxism runs in families. However, no study has shown particular genes linked to it, and genetics is most likely just one of many contributing variables.

Conclusion

When a person grinds or clenches their teeth unconsciously, this is known as bruxism. It can happen when you’re awake or asleep, and it can cause face discomfort, jaw stiffness, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause long-term damage to the teeth, gums, and jaw joint.

Bruxism can be detected during a dental exam by a dentist. The goal of treatment is to reduce tooth damage with a mouthguard or mouth splint, as well as to address any conditions that may be contributing to the bruxism. This may entail lowering stress, switching drugs, or addressing coexisting diseases like sleep apnea.

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