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What is mental health?

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Mental health refers to the wellness of the cognitive, mental and emotional. It all has to do with how people think, feel and act. People often use the word “mental health” to mean a mental illness is not present.

Mental wellbeing may have an impact on everyday life, relationships and physical health.

But the connection works in the other direction as well. Conditions in the lives of individuals, interpersonal interactions and physical factors may all lead to disturbances of mental wellbeing.

Looking for mental health can preserve the ability of one person to enjoy life. To do so is to strike a balance between life events, commitments and psychological resilience efforts.

Conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect a person’s mental health and interrupt the routine.

While the term mental health is widely used, many conditions have physical origins which doctors recognize as psychological disorders.

In this article, we clarify what mental health and mental illness mean to people. They also identify the most common forms of mental illnesses and their early signs and how they can be treated.

What is mental health?

A girl with mental health
Mental health disorders are one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental illnesses or disabilities.” Peak mental health is about not just preventing adverse problems but also taking care of continuous wellbeing and satisfaction.

They also emphasize that maintaining and improving mental health is important on an individual basis, as well as through different cultures and societies across the world.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that about 1 in 5 adults encounter mental health issues per year in the United States.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 11.2 million people in the US, or around 4.5 percent of people, had a serious psychological condition in 2017.

Risk factors for mental health conditions

Everyone has a certain chance of developing a mental health condition, regardless of their age, gender, income or ethnicity.

Mental illnesses are one of the leading causes of disability in the US and most of the developing world.

Social and financial conditions, biological factors and lifestyle choices all can shape the mental health of a individual.

A significant number of the mentally ill people have more than one illness at a time.

It is important to remember that a delicate combination of influences relies on healthy mental health and that many aspects of life and the environment at large will work together to lead to disorders.

The following factors can contribute to alterations in mental health.

Continuous social and economic pressure

Having limited financial resources or belonging to an ethnic group disadvantaged or persecuted can increase the risk of mental health disorders.

A 2015 study of 903 families in Iran reported many socio-economic factors of mental health problems, including poverty and living on a large city’s outskirts.

The researchers also clarified the disparity between the availability and consistency of mental health care between terms of modifiable factors, which can change with time, and permanent non-modifiable factors for other classes.

Modifiable factors for mental health disorders include:

  • socioeconomic conditions, such whether work is available in the local area
  • occupation
  • a person’s level of social involvement
  • education
  • housing quality

Nonmodifiable factors include:

  • gender
  • age
  • ethnicity

The study lists gender as both a modifiable element and an unmodifiable one. The researchers found that being female has 3.96 times increased the likelihood of poor mental health status.

In this report, even people with a “poor economic status” scored the highest for mental health conditions.

Biological factors

The NIMH suggests genetic family history may increase the likelihood of mental health conditions, as certain genes and variants of genes present a higher risk to a individual.

Yet many other factors contribute to these disorders’ development.

Holding a gene with linkages to a mental health illness, such as depression or schizophrenia, does not ensure the existence of a disease. Likewise, individuals with no associated genes or a mental disorder family background may still have mental health problems.

Due to underlying, life-changing physical health problems such as cancer, diabetes and chronic pain, mental health conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety that develop.

Common mental health disorders

The most common types of mental illness are as follows:

  • anxiety disorders
  • mood disorders
  • schizophrenia disorders

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

People with these conditions have extreme anxiety or apprehension which is related to certain things or circumstances. Most people with an anxiety disorder may try to prevent exposure to something that causes their anxiety.

Examples of anxiety problems include:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

The American Psychiatric Association define GAD as disproportionate worry that disrupts everyday living.

People might also experience physical symptoms, including

  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • tense muscles
  • interrupted sleep

For people with GAD, a bout of anxiety symptoms doesn’t usually require a particular cause.

We may be excessively nervous to experience daily circumstances that do not pose a clear threat, such as tasks or appointments. A person with GAD often has no reason to feel anxiety at all.

Panic disorders

Individuals with a panic disorder suffer frequent panic attacks including extreme, crippling fear or an impending feeling of disaster and death.

Phobias

There are different types of phobia:

  • Simple phobias: These might involve a disproportionate fear of specific objects, scenarios, or animals. A fear of spiders is a common example. 
  • Social phobia: Sometimes known as social anxiety, this is a fear of being subject to the judgment of others. People with social phobia often restrict their exposure to social environments
  • Agoraphobia: This term refers to a fear of situations in which getting away may be difficult, such as being in an elevator or moving train. Many people misunderstand this phobia as a fear of being outside. 

Phobias are deeply personal and doctors do not know each form. There may be thousands of phobias, and what may seem odd to one person could be a major problem for another that consumes everyday life.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD sufferers have obsessions and compulsions. In other words, they are having persistent, anxious thoughts and a strong desire to do repetitive activities such as washing their hands.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can occur after a person experiences a profoundly stressful or traumatic event or is witness to it.

In this form of case, the person feels their lives or the lives of others are in danger. We can feel afraid, or have no control over what’s going on.

These pain and fear experiences may then lead to PTSD.

Mood disorders

People can refer to mood disorders as affective or depressive disorders, too.

Those with these conditions experience major mood swings, including either mania, which is a time of high energy and elation, or depression in general. Types of mood problems include:

  • Major depression: An individual with major depression experiences a constant low mood and loses interest in activities and events that they previously enjoyed. They can feel prolonged periods of sadness or extreme sadness.
  • Bipolar disorder: A person with bipolar disorder experiences unusual changes in their mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and ability to continue with daily life. Periods of high mood are known as manic phases, while depressive phases bring on low mood.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Reduced daylight triggers during the fall, winter, and early spring months trigger this type of major depression. It is most common in countries far from the equator.

Schizophrenia disorders

Mental health experts tend to seek to decide whether schizophrenia is a particular illness or a group of similar diseases. This is a state of great uncertainty.

According to the NIMH, symptoms of schizophrenia usually evolve between ages 16 and 30. Individuals may have thoughts that are scattered and can find it difficult to process knowledge, too.

Schizophrenia has signs which are negative and positive. Severe signs include visions, hallucinations and thought disorders. Negative signs include isolation, lack of energy, and flat mood or inadequacy.

Early signs

There is no physical test or scan which indicates reliably whether a individual has developed a mental illness. People should also look for the following potential symptoms of a mental health disorder:

  • withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
  • avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • eating too much or too little
  • feeling hopeless
  • having consistently low energy
  • using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
  • displaying negative emotions
  • being confused
  • being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
  • having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
  • thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
  • hearing voices
  • experiencing delusions

Treatment

There are different ways to treat mental health issues. Treatment is highly individual and does not work for another what works for one person.

Some approaches or treatments combine with others to be more effective. A individual with a chronic mental illness can choose different options at different stages of his or her life.

Individuals need to work closely with a specialist who will help them identify their needs and provide an adequate diagnosis for them.

Treatments can include:

Psychotherapy, or talking therapies

This method of treatment adopts a therapeutic approach to mental illness care. Examples include Cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are examples

This method of diagnosis is carried out by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and certain primary care physicians.

This will help people realize the origin of their mental illness and continue to focus on healthy habits of thinking that sustain daily life and minimize the risk of depression and self-harm.

Medication

Some people are taking prescribed medications including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics.

Although these can’t cure mental illnesses, some medicines can relieve the symptoms and help a person regain social contact and daily routine when working on their mental health.

Many of these drugs function by improving the release of feel-good chemicals from the brain by the body, including serotonin. Many drugs either improve these chemicals’ overall levels, or avoid their degradation or destruction.

Self-help

A individual with mental health issues will typically need to make lifestyle changes to promote wellness.

These improvements may include reducing alcohol consumption, sleeping more, and consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Individuals may need to take time off work or address problems with personal relationships that can harm their mental health.

Individuals with conditions such as an anxiety or depressive disorder may benefit from relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, meditation, and attention.

It may also be important to have a support network, whether through self-help programs or close friends and family, to recover from mental illness.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you have thoughts of suicide, or someone you know, a hotline for prevention will help. The National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention is available at 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day. People with trouble hearing should dial 1-800-799-4889 during a crisis.If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 1-800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.

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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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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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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