Stress Happens. Stop It for Your Health.
Posted on March 19, 2019
Did you hear about autoimmune diseases 10 years ago? What about 20 years ago? It seems as if public awareness of autoimmune conditions is greater than ever, and there are new autoimmune conditions discovered and more people report being diagnosed each year. Researchers now estimate that almost 50 million people are living with an autoimmune disease in the United States alone. But, why the surge in these conditions? Some researchers think it has to do with an increase in stress levels.
Stress happens. It is an often-unavoidable consequence of life and our daily existence, but when stress becomes an everyday situation, it can have serious negative impacts on your body.
Just some of the effects of stress include:
• Jaw clenching
• Dry mouth
• Frequent illness and infections
• Heartburn, stomach pain and nausea
• Digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhea and loss of bowel control
• Difficulty breathing, heart palpitations and chest pain
Stress can increase blood pressure, leaving sufferers at risk of heart attack or stroke, too.
When you encounter something that causes acute stress, such as traffic, conflict with a loved one or a bad day at work, your immune system kicks into a “fight or flight” mode, in which inflammation ramps up. When you relax, the inflammation and immune system response turn off. But if you’re under constant stress and you never relax, that switch stays on – and so does your immune system.
Prolonged inflammation may be the cause of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Combating Chronic Stress
If you are always stressed out, you should take a few self-care steps to reduce your stress. Some of these things include finding a hobby, working out or doing more of what you like to do, but in severe cases, reducing stress may require more drastic changes like making a move to a new city or changing jobs.
Researchers are also working on new approaches to combating chronic stress, such as the stimulation of the parasympathetic nerves (the nerves that trigger hormones that help you relax).
If you’re currently living with an autoimmune disease, you likely already know that stress causes your symptoms to flare up.
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