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Stress and Illness

How Does Stress Impact The Human Body?

Stress is our reaction to any situation that frightens or worries us. When we feel threatened our body releases a hormone called adrenaline, which increases our heart rate, increases our breathing, and makes us more aware of our surroundings. Brief bursts of this fight or flight response are not necessarily bad, especially if one is in a true crisis situation. If we were to be chased by a lion, the rush of adrenaline will help you to think clearer, and run faster and would be a great thing! Animals, unlike humans dont suffer from chronic stress like humans do. They dont have deadlines at work, a mortgage to pay, marriage difficulties, traffic jams, etc. It is chronic stress that affects us emotionally and physically.

Chronic stress, which can be defined as living under stressful conditions for long periods of time, will impact our body negatively. When we have a crisis, which can be either physical or psychological, our bodies go into the fight or flight response. Activity in the sympathetic nervous system rises and the adrenal glands release the hormones epinephrine (or adrenaline) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream. Our body also releases cortisol, a hormone which tells our body to release fatty acids so we can have that needed burst of energy. In a fight or flight response the nervous system and hormonal activity cause digestion to slow down, blood sugar levels to rise, and the heart to beat harder and faster in order to provide the muscles with more blood. Again, it is like being chased by the lion.

However, when our body is always in this overdrive state, we can become sick as a result of hormones being present in our bloodstream when they shouldnt be there. Chronic stress can cause stomach problems, constipation, diarrhea, increased occurrence of colds and respiratory infections, just to name a few. High levels of cortisol can worsen inflammatory conditions such as colitis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, plus many other conditions.

Can Stress Cause Serious Illness?

There's increasing evidence that stress is a contributing factor to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Chronic over activity of our body systems places us in a metabolic crisis which can damage our cardiovascular system, cause fatigue, and increase our risk of diabetes. Its okay to have a blood pressure of 170/130 when you are you are running away from danger, but not because you are sitting in a traffic jam!

Can Stress Contribute To A Heart Attack Or Stroke?

Increased blood pressure makes your heart work harder which can increase your risk for heart attacks, stroke, ""and many other conditions such as kidney failure. One study shows that mental stress can cause the inner (endothelial) layer of the blood vessels to constrict, which may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death. This study was published in Circulation, and found that sudden mental stress causes "endothelial dysfunction," which simply means the blood vessels ability to dilate is impaired. The result is blood vessels are unable to open (dilate) or constrict (vasoconstrict) to meet different circulatory needs. This condition can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Can Stress Impact Diabetes?

In people with type 2 diabetes, the presence of stress hormones can cause blood glucose levels to rise. It has also been shown that the levels of glucose will rise to higher than normal levels in people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, while under physical stress, illness or injury.

Are Some People At Greater Risk From Stress Than Others?

Stress can cause a stronger physical reaction for some of us than it does for others. Those of us who are more easily aroused by stressful situations can unfortunately suffer greater damage as we age. In one recent scientific study, young adults who reacted to stress with spikes in blood pressure were more likely to have high blood pressure when they reached their 40s. According to the research of Christine M. Albert, a professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, High levels of psychic stress, specifically phobic anxiety, increase the risk of sudden cardiac death in women.

What Can I Do To Reduce The Stress In My Life?

The best way to deal with stress is lifestyle change which should include moderate exercise, proper rest and relaxation. In addition a proper diet and nutrition, it is important to have restful sleep. If simple measures cannot control or help you manage stress, then you should consider my highly effective and long standing stress relief program that not only gets rid of stress but helps the body to deal with the stress so that illness does not result and to better handle everyday stress so it is not stored in the body so we dont get sick and our immune system remains strong so prevent possible future illness.

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