Do you often have butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason? Do you experience this, without any underlying disease or cause?
This feeling and experience in medical terms is called as ‘Nervous Stomach’ and is felt due of stress normally or extreme stress called as fight-flight reaction.
In this phenomenon, the blood flow to the stomach and some other organs is reduced in order to supply the heart, brain and lungs with enough blood and this results in constriction of blood vessels and contraction of stomach an d gastrointestinal tract (GIT) resulting in this experience of butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason.
This butterfly feeling can be a simple stress related issue or can indicate something serious. Butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason is seen to be associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and cannot be associated to it or can be found isolated. Thus for most of the times there has been an emotional aspect in people who experience butterfly feeling in stomach.
What can be the possible causes, symptoms and treatment will be discussed in the article below. Continue reading the article for further information.
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Causes of butterfly feeling in stomach
There are a number of reasons for butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason and most of them are attributed to simple stress and anxiety of daily life. But there are a number of possible causes that have to be ruled out since they can be a cause of butterfly feeling and includes: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome), celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease (PUD) and anxiety disorder or some viral gastrointestinal infections/ gastroenteritis.
There are some rare causes for butterfly feeling and which includes gall stones and damage to the vagus nerve.
Our GIT (gastrointestinal tract) is associated with our brain through the largest nerve i.e., the vagus nerve and our GI tract has its own nervous system called as enteric nervous system, the nerve endings of which respond to the hormones released from the brain at the time of stress and a person experiences a need to vomit, nausea etc. Vagus nerve and the prevertebral ganglia innervates the enteric system of gastrointestinal tract which is capable of working independently usually.
So in times of stress when the hormones are released from the brain these nerves respond and result in symptoms like increased irritability and irregularity of the GIT tract and decreased blood supply to these organs and resulting in feeling of two winged insects inside the stomach or butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason. These stress triggering situations include: Family relayed issues, financial issues, tests or presentations, death of any loved one, any chronic illness etc.
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome):
IBS is a condition in which there is a change in bowel habits for more than 3 months and should fulfill the ROME IV criteria for IBS. This is a condition in which a person experiences spasms in GI tract, and the severity varies from individual to individual.
ROME IV criteria includes recurrent abdominal pain for at least one day in week for three months with two among the following:
- Related to defecation (improvement or increase in pain)
- Change in stool frequency
- Change in stool appearance.
- So if the criteria are fulfilled for IBS, the cause of butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason can be attributed to IBS.
- IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome):
Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition in which there is a chronic inflammation of the GI tract in particular the intestines and is grouped under two diseases: Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. These are characterized by diarrhea, rectal bleeding, pain in abdomen, fatigue/ weakness, loss of weight.
- Celiac disease:
Celiac disease is also called as celiac sprue and there is a sensitivity of gluten inside the GI tract of such individuals. People suffering from celiac disease suffer from an immune reaction inside their small intestines when they eat gluten containing foods. People may have abdominal pain and diarrhea and the children are mostly seen irritable. Celiac disease is a genetic disease.
- Peptic ulcer disease (PUD):
These are the sores developed inside the lining of stomach and duodenum and are open sores associated with severe pain. There are a number of causes of PUD and includes helicobacter pylori, prolonged use of NSAIDS. Stress and spicy foods do not cause ulcers but aggravate the symptoms.
- Anxiety disorder:
Anxiety is a situational response to increase the performance but disproportionate level of stress in comparison to the situation results in anxiety disorder in which a person gets panicked and anxious with little stress and thus is called a disorder.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
- Heart palpitations
- Insomnia/ difficult sleeping
Symptoms of butterfly feeling in stomach
- Knot in the stomach
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Tingling sensation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increase in urination
- Increase in bowel movements/ diarrhea
- Rapid fullness
- Feeling anxious, nervousness, shivering
Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination. A brief history of anxiety and stress and on-going life can be asked from the person. Further to rule out other causes changes in bowel habits, appearance of stools, abdominal pain can be asked. A number of diagnostic tests can be run by your doctor to rule out IBD, celiac. Physical examination can be helpful for anxiety related disorders and other gastro intestinal related issues. Stool examination, colonoscopy can be helpful in ruling out other serious conditions.
Treatment is diagnosis-based. Since the most common cause is stress and anxiety, thus there can be a proper stress management, likewise switching to some herbal medications can be useful, medication and stress related activities.
- Therapy for stress management:
Stress is a daily part of everyone’s one so it cannot be eliminated completely but ways to cope up with it can definitely be. Therapist or psychiatrist can definitely help you learning the mechanisms for dealing with stress.
Sometimes in addition to therapy, medications might be needed to reduce anxiety and to treat nervous stomach or butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason.
- Herbal medication:
Some herbal medications like peppermint, ginger, spearmint, lavender and help to treat the symptoms by reducing the spasms and contractions in stomach which leads to gases/flatulence, cramping etc.
- Avoid caffeine intake:
Especially at the time of ongoing nervous stomach avoid caffeine as it acts as a fuel for anxiety and thus worsening the symptoms of nervous stomach or butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason.
- Stress relieving activities:
Different activities can serve as stress reliever for different persons which includes meditation, reading, talking to your loved ones, exercising of which practicing deep breaths is seen to be very helpful.
Prevention always has been better than cure!
So the main treatment lies in the prevention. There are a number of ways of preventing the condition from occurring and which includes:
Managing the stress, improving the gut health, eating smaller meals than larger ones, exercising more often.
Managing the stress can be the key event in preventing the condition of butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason. All of the stress you have been feeling lately will pass and you need to give yourself some good time and space and manage and reduce the daily work load.
Taking small meals within a gap of some hours every day can be helpful as it might be causing you the nervous stomach, thus during the time when you experience butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason, eating a light small meal can be helpful.
Improving gut health is helpful too! Improving gut health can help reduce the digestive condition and indicates the nervous stomach or butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason can be due to degraded gut health or stress or both of them. As already mentioned in the symptoms, early fullness, flatulence, are signs of nervous stomach, thus increasing the fiber in the diet, probiotic rich foods and supplements can help in improving the gut health. Probiotics are seen to treat anxiety with gut symptoms through the vagus nerve as stated in an ongoing research.
Exercising: There should be a source to let your anxiety and stress out so that its impact on digestive system will be lessened and exercise seems to play a good role in that.
Butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason is a common experience among people and is not necessarily a serious issue but can be serious as well. If the symptoms persist for longer than usual and cause more discomfort than normal stress you need to see a doctor. If a person is experiencing this butterfly feeling in stomach for no reason on daily basis along with some associated symptoms as mentioned above the patient might be diagnosed with IBS respectively.
Likewise, proper medical care, symptomatic treatment, alleviating the stress and treating the underlying cause of stress can help the patient to get a sigh of relief.