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Stress: Why does it happen and how can we handle it?

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Stress is a feeling that people have in everyday terms when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with the pressures.

Such demands may relate to finances, jobs, relationships, and other circumstances but anything that poses a real or perceived problem or threat to the well-being of an individual can cause stress.

Pressure can act as a motivator. Survival can be key. The process of “fight-or-flight” can tell us when and how to deal with the danger. However, if this mechanism is activated too quickly, or if at one time there are too many stressors, then it can damage the mental and physical health of a person and become harmful.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s annual stress survey, average levels of stress in the United States (U.S.) in 2015 increased from 4.9 to 5.1 on a scale of 1-10.

Fast facts on stress:

Here are some of the key points about stress. The main article provides more information.

  • Stress helps the body prepare to face danger.
  • The symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
  • Short-term stress can be helpful, but long-term stress is linked to various health conditions.
  • We can prepare for stress by learning some self-management tips.

What is stress?

Everybody response to stress differently, but too much stress can lead to health problems.
Everybody response to stress differently, but too much stress can lead to health problems.

Stress is the natural defense of the body against predators, and against danger. It flushes hormones into the body to prepare systems to evade or confront danger. This is regarded as process of “fight-or-flight.”

A part of our reaction is physical when faced with a challenge. The body activates resources to protect us by either preparing us to stay and fight, or getting away as quickly as possible.

The body produces larger amounts of the cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline chemicals. Those cause an increased heart rate, increased preparation for the muscles, sweating, and alertness. All of these factors enhance the ability to address a hazardous or challenging situation.

Environmental factors that cause this reaction are called stressors. Examples include noise, aggressive behaviour, a speeding car, scary movie moments, or even a first date out. The more stressors we experience, the more that we tend to feel stressed.

Body changes Pressure slows down normal body processes, such as the digestive and immune systems. Therefore, all efforts can be centered on rapid breathing, blood flow, alertness, and muscle use.

The body changes at pressure in the following ways:

  • blood pressure and pulse rate rise
  • breathing is faster
  • the digestive system slows down
  • immune activity decreases
  • the muscles become tense
  • a heightened state of alertness prevents sleep

Whether we respond to a challenging situation affects whether stress affects us and our health. A person who feels they don’t have enough resources to deal with will be more likely to have a stronger response, and one that can cause health issues. Stressors affect people in varying ways.

Even things that are generally regarded as good can lead to stress, such as having a baby, going on a holiday, moving to a nicer house and being promoted.

This is because we frequently require a major change, extra effort, new responsibilities, and adaptation needs. They are moves toward the unknown, too. The person wonders if they can cope with it.

A persistently negative response to challenges can affect health and happiness. Being mindful of how you respond to stressors, however, will help to reduce and control the negative feelings and effects of stress.

Types

The APA acknowledges three different types of stress which require different management levels.

Acute stress

This type of stress is short-term, and is the most common form of stress. Sometimes, acute stress is triggered by thinking about the stresses with recent events, or coming demands in the near future.

For instance, if you’ve been involved in a recent argument that has caused disturbed or has an imminent deadline, you might feel stress about these causes. Nevertheless, once these are resolved the anxiety can be reduced or eliminated.

It doesn’t do the same amount of damage as chronic, long-term stress. Short-term effects include hallucinations of tension and an upset stomach, and a moderate amount of pain.

However, repeated instances of acute stress can become chronic and harmful over a long period of time.

Episodic acute stress

People who often experience acute stress, or whose lives have frequent stress triggers, have episodic acute stress.

A person with too many responsibilities and bad management, may have episodic symptoms of stress. These include a tendency to be irritable and tense, and may affect relationships with this irritability. Individuals who constantly worry too much can also be confronted with this type of stress.

This type of stress can also lead to hypertension and heart disease.

Chronic stress

This is the most destructive form of stress and grinds away over a long period of time.

Chronic stress can be triggered by chronic deprivation, a dysfunctional family, or an unhappy marriage. This occurs when an person never sees an escape from the cause of stress and keeps looking for solutions. Often, it can be caused early in life by a traumatic experience.

Unlike acute stress which is fresh and often has an immediate solution, chronic stress have proceed unnoticed because people can become used to it. It can become a part of the personality of an individual, making them continually susceptible to the effects of stress regardless of the scenarios they face.

People with chronic stress are likely to have a final breakdown that can result in depression, acts of violence, heart attacks and strokes.

Causes

We all react on stressful situations differently. That makes one person stressful may not be stressful to another. Nearly anything can carry tension. Only thinking about something or a couple of small things can cause stress for some people.

Typical major events in life which may cause stress include:

  • job issues or retirement
  • lack of time or money
  • bereavement
  • family problems
  • illness
  • moving home
  • relationships, marriage, and divorce

Other commonly reported causes of stress are:

For different people, different situations can trigger stress.
For different people, different situations can trigger stress.
  • abortion or miscarriage
  • driving in heavy traffic or fear of an accident
  • fear of crime or problems with neighbors
  • pregnancy and becoming a parent
  • excessive noise, overcrowding, and pollution
  • uncertainty or waiting for an important outcome

Many circumstances are going to affect many people but not others. Past experience can have an impact on how a person reacts.

There’s no clear cause, sometimes. Problems with mental health, such as depression or an accumulated sense of frustration and anxiety, can make some people feel more anxious than others.

After a traumatic event, some people experience ongoing pain, such as an accident or some kind of violence. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is known as this. Those who work in stressful jobs, like the military or emergency services, will have a debriefing session after a major incident, and they will be tested for PTSD.

Symptoms

The physical effects of stress include:

  • sweating
  • pain in the back or chest
  • cramps or muscle spasms
  • erectile dysfunction and loss of libido
  • fainting
  • headache
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • lower immunity against diseases
  • muscular aches
  • nervous twitches
  • pins and needles
  • sleeping difficulties
  • stomach upset

A 2012 study suggested that the stressors experienced by parents, such as financial troubles or the management of a single-parent household, could lead to obesity in their children.

Emotional reactions can include:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • burnout
  • concentration issues
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • a feeling of insecurity
  • forgetfulness
  • irritability
  • nail biting
  • restlessness
  • sadness

Behaviors linked to stress include:

  • food cravings and eating too much or too little
  • sudden angry outbursts
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • higher tobacco consumption
  • social withdrawal
  • frequent crying
  • relationship problems

Diagnosis

A doctor normally diagnoses stress by asking the patient about the symptoms and events in life.

Diagnosis is difficult. This depends on a lot of factors. Questionnaires, biochemical tests and physiological methods were used but these may not be objective or accurate.

A detailed, stress-oriented, face-to-face interview is the most direct way to diagnose stress and its effects upon a person.

Treatment

Treatment involves self-help, and certain medications in cases where stress is caused by an underlying condition.

Therapies which may help relax include aromatherapy or reflexology.

Most insurance providers cover this kind of treatment, but be sure to check before continuing with this treatment .

Medicines

Doctors will not usually prescribe medicines to cope with stress, unless the patient has an underlying disease, such as depression or an anxiety type.

The doctor, in this situation, treats a mental disorder and not the stress.

In such cases it may be prescribed an antidepressant. There is a risk, though, that the medication will only mask the stress, rather than help you deal with it and cope. Antidepressants may have adverse effects, too.

Developing prior to stress hits some coping mechanisms may help a person manage new challenges and maintain physical and mental health. If you already feel overwhelming stress, seek medical assistance.

Management

Here are a few lifestyle choices you can take to manage or prevent an overwhelmed feeling.

Massage, yoga, or listening to music may help destress, or avoid the build-up of tension.
Massage, yoga, or listening to music may help destress, or avoid the build-up of tension.

Exercise: Studies have shown that exercise can benefit the state of mind and physicality of a person.

Reducing alcohol, drugs, and caffeine intake: These substances are not going to help prevent stress, and they can make it worse. They should be cut or reduced.

Nutrition: A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps preserve the immune system during stressful times. A poor diet can cause ill health and added stress.

Prioritizing: Take some time to arrange your to- do list to see what’s most important. So concentrate on what you’ve done or achieved for the day, instead of what you’re yet to do.

Time: Set aside some time each day just for yourself. Use it to organize your life, relax, and pursue your own interests.

Breathing and relaxation: Meditation, massage, and yoga can help. Breathing and relaxation techniques can slow down the system and help you relax. Breathing is also a central part of mindfulness meditation.

Talking: Talking to family, friends, work colleagues, and your boss about your thoughts and worries will help you “let off steam.” You may be comforted to find that you are “not the only one.” You may even find there is an easy solution that you had not thought of.

Acknowledging the signs: A person can be so anxious about the problem that is causing the stress that they do not notice the effects on their body.

The first step toward taking action is to note symptoms. People who have work stress due to long hours may need to “take a step back.” It might be time to review their own work practices or talk to a supervisor about lowering the load.

Choose your own destressor: most people have something to relax, like reading a book, walking, listening to music, or spending time with a friend or pet. Joining a chorus or a gym helps a few.

Establishing support networks: The APA encourages people to develop social support networks by, for example, talking to local community neighbors and others, or joining a club, charity or religious organization.

Even if you don’t feel stressed right now, being part of a group may prevent tension from forming and can provide support and practical help when difficult times occur.

As long as it does not replace face-to-face touch, social networking online can help. It can help you to stay in touch with distant friends and family and this can reduce anxiety.

If the stress affects your everyday life you will seek professional assistance. For example, with stress management training, a doctor or psychological consultant can often be of assistance.

Stress management techniques

Stress management can help to:

  • remove or change the source of stress
  • alter the way you view a stressful event
  • lower the impact that stress might have on your body
  • learn alternative ways of coping

One or more of these approaches are followed by stress management therapy.

Stress management techniques can be gained from self-help books, online resources or through attending a course on stress management. An individual who has stress can be connected by a counselor or psychotherapist to personal development courses or individual and group therapy sessions.

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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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