Roemheld syndrome: 5 symptoms & 6 tips for treatment

Almost everyone has had to deal with gastrointestinal complaints at some point. However, if these become part of everyday life and are accompanied by severe pain, they can severely restrict life. Roemheld syndrome is particularly distressing. It affects not only the gastrointestinal tract, but also the heart and lungs. In the following you will find out exactly how the symptoms are expressed and what you can do about them.

Depending on what foods you eat, your gastrointestinal tract can react very differently. While some foods, such as oatmeal , rice, and potatoes are usually well tolerated, other foods, such as cabbage, legumes, and whole grains, can trigger severe discomfort in some people. Bloating and abdominal cramps are often the result.

In some people, the pressure in the abdomen can become so great that they develop heart problems and shortness of breath. Then one speaks of a Roemheld syndrome. The gas accumulations formed in the stomach and intestines lead to a narrowed chest cavity , the cause of which is often assumed to be in the heart and lungs. However, the two organs are healthy and the symptoms are solely due to the digestive tract.

The symptoms can be both chronic and intermittent . If those affected go to the doctor, usually no cause can be determined. The symptoms for those affected often feel like a heart attack. That’s why those affected go to the cardiologist – not realizing that the symptoms come from the gastrointestinal tract. The diagnosis of Roemheld syndrome can be delayed for a long time.

What Roemheld Syndrome is

In professional circles, the Roemheld syndrome is also known under the names gastric heart syndrome and gastrocardial syndrome . These terms already describe the interaction between stomach and heart. It is actually not an independent disease, but only different symptoms that often occur together. This connection was first described by the internist Ludwig von Roemheld in the 20th century, after whom the syndrome was finally named.

Symptoms of Roemheld Syndrome

The Roemheld syndrome describes various symptoms that can occur together and are very stressful. These can sometimes resemble a chest tightness, but have other causes. There can also be other physical and psychological symptoms that limit everyday life.

heart trouble

Heart problems are common in Roemheld syndrome. The discomfort can feel similar to a chest tightness. Because the symptoms sometimes occur behind the breastbone. The pressure in the stomach can mean that the heart no longer has enough space to be fully efficient. This can result in the typical complaints in the chest area, which can severely restrict everyday life. In addition to the feeling of tightness in the chest, there can also be sudden palpitations and a changing heart rhythm .

shortness of breath

But not only the heart is affected in Roemheld syndrome. The function of the lungs can also be restricted by the pressure in the abdomen. Shortness of breath may occur as it becomes more difficult to breathe. Even short distances and climbing stairs can become exhausting.

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hot flashes

Hot flashes can also occur as a result of the impaired heart function. Since the heart can no longer work at full capacity, the body declares a kind of emergency. The sympathetic nervous system is increasingly used, which ensures the body’s ability to act even under stress. This can result in hot flashes, for example.

anxiety states

A feeling of tightness in the chest area with palpitations and shortness of breath can trigger anxiety . This is why acute anxiety states such as panic attacks can occur as a result of Roemheld syndrome . Activation of the sympathetic nervous system also favors the conditions since the body is already under stress which also favors anxiety.


The sympathetic nervous system can also cause dizziness and sleep disturbances. The body is in a stressful situation and can react with dizziness, sleep disorders and similar symptoms. The circulatory system is also often affected, so that even circulatory collapses and even fainting can occur.

Causes of Roemheld Syndrome

The symptoms described mostly result from a displacement of the diaphragm caused by excessive gas formation in the gastrointestinal tract. However, even a strong bloated stomach can promote the symptoms mentioned. Gas buildup in the abdomen can cause such pressure that the diaphragm slides toward the chest cavity.

The diaphragm normally lies below the lungs and separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity . In addition, the diaphragm, as a muscle, supports breathing. However, if it slips into the chest, it can constrict the lungs and even make breathing difficult. The heart also suffers from the narrowing caused by the diaphragm. This also leads to heart problems.

Sometimes, however, it is not the diaphragm but the stomach that is responsible for the symptoms. Because parts of the stomach can slip past the diaphragm and next to the esophagus. This can also constrict the chest cavity and lead to the symptoms described.

Immediate help with Roemheld Syndrome: You should pay attention to this

Since Roemheld syndrome usually results from excessive gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, you can usually combat the symptoms by avoiding this gas formation in the digestive tract. To do this, you have to rethink your lifestyle and sometimes change some habits.

Avoid foods that cause gas

In order to reduce the air in your stomach, you should especially avoid flatulent foods. These primarily include various types of cabbage , legumes and some dairy products . These foods contain components that cannot be digested in the small intestine and are therefore broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. However, these bacteria produce gases that accumulate in the intestine and cause gas or bloating .

With an irritable bowel , the gastrointestinal tract often reacts particularly sensitively to certain food groups and greasy and heavy meals – especially in the evening. Gas accumulations in the digestive tract occur here more often than usual. That is why an irritable bowel syndrome can also be associated with Roemheld syndrome.

To help you identify the foods that make you gassy, ​​you can keep a food journal. In this you record the food you eat and how your digestive tract reacts. From now on you can remove the flatulent foods from your menu and thus prevent unnecessary flatulence.

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So that you can still choose from a variety of foods, you should find out about well- tolerated alternatives . For example, you can use pak choi instead of cabbage . This is easier to digest and causes less flatulence. In contrast to many other legumes, chickpeas are also easily digestible in small quantities. So feel free to have some hummus with veggies every now and then. Instead of raw vegetables, however, you should rather use steamed vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest and can cause flatulence.

do sports

Sport is essential for your health and well-being. Exercise also promotes digestion and can thus prevent complaints. So try to exercise every day, even if it’s just a short walk. If possible , you should do 30 to 60 minutes of sport two to three times a week – i.e. exercise intensively. It is important that you maintain this rhythm in the long term in order to benefit from it permanently. So choose a sport that you really enjoy – whether it ‘s jogging , vaulting , boxing or yoga .

An important side effect is that exercise and sports strengthen your diaphragm and ensure that it forms a stable barrier between the abdominal cavity and the chest cavity. This strengthens the muscle and makes it less likely to slide up.

do breathing exercises

In addition to strengthening your diaphragm, you should also loosen it regularly. The best way to do this type of diaphragm relaxation is with breathing exercises. There are specific breathing exercises that can help you relax and loosen your diaphragm so that you feel less pain when you breathe. You activate your diaphragm with abdominal breathing . As you inhale, your stomach will arch forward. When you exhale, you automatically pull in your stomach. You can do abdominal breathing lying down, sitting or standing and feel it with your hand on your stomach.

You can stretch your diaphragm by taking a deep breath and then letting all the air out of your lungs until you can’t exhale anymore. In this way, your diaphragm is pulled up and stretched. You can find more breathing exercises here.

Calm your stomach with bland foods

Especially if the symptoms of Roemheld syndrome are chronic, you should first try to calm your digestive tract before taking any further action. This is especially good for light food. Give your body only easily digestible foods like potato soup or steamed vegetables for several days. But make sure that you avoid flatulent vegetables in any case.

You should also chew all foods thoroughly to relieve your digestive tract of as much work as possible. Eat slowly and avoid swallowing air. You can also prevent a feeling of pressure in the abdomen. Incidentally, this applies not only to the light food diet, but always. You can learn more about bland diets in this article.

take probiotics

Digestive problems are often caused by an imbalance in your intestinal flora . Countless strains of bacteria live in your colon, including bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These ensure that you can tolerate and digest fiber. However, bad bacteria can mix with the good intestinal bacteria, which disrupt digestion and cause symptoms. Your intestinal flora is often disturbed after taking antibiotics and a gastrointestinal infection.

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You can balance your intestinal flora with special probiotics . These usually contain several good bacterial strains that optimally support your intestines and strengthen the good intestinal bacteria . This allows them to multiply again on their own. In this way, you can reduce your symptoms and tackle the cause directly.

use home remedies

In acute cases, you can use certain home remedies that soothe your gastrointestinal tract and counteract flatulence. A fennel – anise -caraway tea , which relaxes the intestinal tract and has a deflating effect, has proven particularly effective. Regular consumption of swollen psyllium husks , for example in muesli for breakfast, can prevent flatulence and regulate digestion.

If you suffer from a bloated stomach, a stomach massage can also help . Stroke your navel in a clockwise direction with light pressure. Essential oils such as caraway oil and chamomile oil can enhance the effect. However, you should never use it undiluted. It is therefore best to use a nourishing oil such as almond oil as a base.

Which can make symptoms worse

Roemheld Syndrome can severely limit your quality of life. To avoid making it worse, avoid certain food groups and get tested for personal intolerances , either with a food journal or a hydrogen breath test. You should consider the following with Roemheld syndrome.

Too much alcohol

Alcohol is poison for your body. It puts a strain on your health and especially on your liver. But your digestive tract also suffers from the smoking agent. Alcohol causes bad and gas-forming bacteria to multiply in the intestines . Digestive problems often occur after heavy alcohol consumption. You can avoid this by avoiding alcohol or consuming it in small amounts. There is nothing wrong with a glass of red wine a week, but you should not overdo it to counteract Roemheld syndrome.

food intolerance

Food intolerances can also lead to digestive problems. A particularly large number of people are affected by lactose intolerance . However, many do not know that there are different levels of such an intolerance . Some people can tolerate small amounts of lactose, but cannot tolerate larger amounts and react with flatulence and diarrhea. If you suspect that you suffer from a certain food intolerance, you should of course first get a test from your doctor. If this is negative, you can probably eat small amounts of the food. How much exactly you can eat of it, you have to test individually. A nutritionist can help you with this.

In addition to lactose intolerance, you can also react sensitively to other food components. You can find out exactly how these are expressed in the respective articles.

  • Gluten intolerance
  • Fructoseintoleranz
  • Histaminintoleranz
  • Sorbitunverträglichkeit

High-fat foods

High-fat meals are often difficult to digest, especially if they also contain a lot of protein. The same applies if you eat a particularly large amount of a meal. Then the food is heavy on your stomach and your digestive tract has to deal with using the food. In addition, greasy food can irritate the gastric mucosa and thus stimulate gastric juice production. This can also cause stomach pressure and trigger the symptoms of Roemheld syndrome.

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