Advertising
Advertising

7 Health Conditions Caused By Stress

7 Health Conditions Caused By Stress

Stress is a natural part of life. Everyone experiences it at one time or another. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Harvard University-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-NPR found that 49% of adults reported having a major stressful event or experience in the past year. In addition, more than 4 in 10 (43%) adults report stressful events and negative experiences related to health.

Many people who experience stress try to cope with it through eating, drinking, smoking, and even taking drugs. People who are stressed typically get less sleep and exercise less. These are all activities that can negatively impact health. However, recent studies have been discovering that there is a lot more to the way that stress impacts our health.

Our bodies react to stress by pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. This focuses the mind and body creating an immediate reaction. This response has helped humans survive throughout generations. Unfortunately, this rush of adrenaline due to stress can also create health risks. In addition, the more significant risk is because of the cortisol increase.

Cortisol has many good functions, like reducing inflammation, but is not meant to be constantly released. The constant release of cortisone causes cells to be desensitized to the hormone. This can allow inflammation to go crazy. Chronic inflammation over the long-term can damage blood vessels and brain cells. It can also lead to insulin resistance (a precursor of diabetes) and promote extremely painful joint diseases.

Advertising

Here are 7 health conditions caused by stress:

1. The Common Cold

oe9dro0

    In a shocking 2012 study 276 healthy adults were interviewed about stressful events in their lives and then exposed to the cold virus. The people who were experiencing chronic stress were cortisol resistant and more likely to get sick. The study showed that when under continuous stress, cells in the immune system are unable to respond properly to the cold virus. They produce levels of inflammation that lead to disease.

    2. Increased Weight Gain

    Advertising

    Overweight

      The stress hormones stimulate a craving for foods full of sugar, starch, and fat. This is the reason you are more likely to want a candy bar after a stressful day. However, new research shows the link between stress and weight gain is a lot more complex than just bad food choices. For example, in one study women who had one or more stressful events during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories in the seven hours following a fast-food meal than women who ate a similar meal but were stress-free. 104 calories may not seem like a lot, but it can actually add up to 11 extra pounds per year.

      In addition to creating changes in metabolism, stress also produces a rise in insulin levels and a decrease in fat oxidation. This process promotes fat storage. Other studies have shown a correlation between excess cortisol and increased abdominal fat.

      3. Sleep Issues

      Sleeping Issues

        As we get older we experience natural decreases in the amount of deep sleep we get and an increase in nighttime wakefulness. Stress can aggravate these sleep deficits and make it harder to go back to sleep after you awaken in the night. Sleep deprivation can impair memory and hurt emotional control. A lack of sleep also makes it harder to handle daily stress. Cortisol levels keep people awake at night and then our brains respond by making us think about or problems. Lack of sleep also leads to dental problems & then you can’t escape from painful dental implants.

        Advertising

        4. Heart Disease

        untitled

          The link between long-term stress and heart attacks has been well known for years. A recent study made the reasons behind this clearer. In the study, Matthias Nahrendorf, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, discovered that blood samples from people with high levels of stress had a surplus of white blood cells. Cortisol changes the texture of white blood cells making them attach themselves to blood vessel walls. This creates plaque, a key marker of heart disease. The Harvard Medical School study found that a surplus of white blood cells caused hardening in the arteries of stressed but otherwise healthy mice. Taking a DNA test can also tell you if stress puts you at greater risk for heart disease.

          5. Depression

          Depressed woman

            Stress plays a role in depression and brain health. Depression can be triggered by stressful episodes and then take on a life of its own. Stress makes many brain neurotransmitter systems, like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, become out of balance. This causes issues with mood, sleep appetite, and libido. Many severely depressed people have elevated cortisol levels. This can permanently damage brain cells.

            Advertising

            6. Ulcers and Stomach Issues

            Stomach pain

              Over the last 50 years, doctors have attributed stomach ulcers to stress. It wasn’t until 1983 that researchers found that ulcers are caused by the bacteria H. pylori. However, 15% of stomach ulcers actually occur in people who do not have the bacteria. Also, only about 10% of people infected with the bacteria get ulcers. One theory is that the effect of chronic stress on the immune system lets the H. pylori bacteria thrive. Another theory is that exposure to stress changes the balance of bacteria in the gut allowing harmful bacteria to have the upper hand. This means that ulcers are ultimately the result of stress. Stress is also a critical factor in irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, heartburn, and Crohn’s disease.

              7. Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain

                Neck, shoulder, and back pain are among the most common and costly health complaints. Stress alone does not create this pain; however, stress can intensify the severity and duration of the pain. Musculoskeletal pain is particularly increased by workplace stress. Researchers aren’t sure why this occurs. However, people with stressful jobs report more back, neck and shoulder pain. The theory is that stress-induced inflammation prevents the full healing power to make the pain decrease.

                In case you are facing any of these above symptoms, you should see a doctor. If you are a busy individual juggling family and work pressures, online doctor services might be a good alternative to seeing a doctor physically. These kinds of services allow you to see a doctor at your own convenience.

                Featured photo credit: pressfoto via freepik.com

                More by this author

                Vikas Agrawal

                Designing & Marketing

                How to Create an Infographic Resume That Will Impress Your Future Employer This Skill Is Not Taught in School, But It Hugely Affects Our Success in Life How I Get Things Done with Only Half of the Time Others Need Writing a Great Value Statement Can Bring In Tons of Money for Your Business All-Natural Tips for Fighting Insomnia and Sleeping Better

                Trending in Brain

                1 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 2 How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip 3 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory 4 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood 5 Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising

                Last Updated on October 29, 2018

                What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

                What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

                Brain fog is more of a symptom than a medical condition itself, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to memory problems, lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus.

                Many often excuse brain fog for a bad day, or get so used to it that they ignore it. Unfortunately, when brain fog is ignored it ends up interfering with work and school. The reason many ignore it is because they aren’t fully aware of what causes it and how to deal with it.

                It’s important to remember that if your brain doesn’t function fully — nothing else in your life will. Most people have days where they can’t seem to concentrate or forget where they put their keys.

                It’s very normal to have days where you can’t think clearly, but if you’re experiencing these things on a daily basis, then you’re probably dealing with brain fog for a specific reason.

                So what causes brain fog? It can be caused by a string of things, so we’ve made a list things that causes brain fog and how to prevent it and how to stop it.

                1. Stress

                It’s no surprise that we’ll find stress at the top of the list. Most people are aware of the dangers of stress. It can increase blood pressure, trigger depression and make us sick as it weakens our immune system.

                Another symptom is mental fatigue. When you’re stressed your brain can’t function at its best. It gets harder to think and focus, which makes you stress even more.

                Stress can be prevented by following some simple steps. If you’re feeling stressed you should avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — even though it may feel like it helps in the moment. Two other important steps are to indulge in more physical activities and to talk to someone about it.

                Advertising

                Besides that, you can consider keeping a stress diary, try relaxation techniques like mediation, getting more sleep and maybe a new approach to time management.

                2. Diet

                Most people know that the right or wrong diet can make them gain or loss weight, but not enough people think about the big impact a specific diet can have on one’s health even if it might be healthy.

                One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency and especially vegans can be get hid by brain fog, because their diet often lacks the vitamin B-12. The vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental and neurological disorders.

                The scary thing is that almost 40 % of adults are estimated to lack B12 in their diet. B12 is found in animal products, which is why many vegans are in B12 deficiency, but this doesn’t mean that people need animal products to prevent the B12 deficiency. B12 can be taken as a supplement, which will make the problem go away.

                Another vital vitamin that can cause brain fog is vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough vitamin D in their diet. Alongside B12 and vitamin D is omega-3, which because of its fatty acids helps the brain function and concentrate. Luckily, both vitamin D and omega-3 can be taken as supplements.

                Then there’s of course also the obvious unhealthy foods like sugar. Refined carbohydrates like sugar will send your blood sugar levels up, and then send you right back down. This will lead to brain fog, because your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel and once you start playing around with your brain — it gets confused.

                Besides being hit by brain fog, you’ll also experience tiredness, mood swings and mental confusion. So, if you want to have clear mind, then stay away from sugar.

                Sometimes the same type of diet can be right for some and wrong for others. If you’re experiencing brain fog it’s a good idea to seek out your doctor or a nutritionist. They can take some tests and help you figure out which type of diet works best for your health, or find out if you’re lacking something specific in your diet.

                Advertising

                3. Allergies

                If you have food allergies, or are simply a bit sensitive to specific foods, then eating those foods can lead to brain fog. Look out for dairy, peanuts and aspartame that are known to have a bad effect on the brain.

                Most people get their calories from corn, soy and wheat — and big surprise — these foods are some of the most common foods people are allergic to. If you’re in doubt, then you can look up food allergies[1] and find some of the most common symptoms.

                If you’re unsure about being allergic or sensitive, then you can start out by cutting out a specific food from your diet for a week or two. If the brain fog disappears, then you’re most likely allergic or sensitive to this food. The symptoms will usually go away after a week or two once you remove the trigger food from the diet.

                If you still unsure, then you should seek out the help of your doctor.

                4. Lack of sleep

                All of us know we need sleep to function, but it’s different for everybody how much sleep they need. A few people can actually function on as little as 3-4 hours of sleep every night, but these people are very, very rare.

                Most people need 8 to 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need, then this will interfere with your brain and you may experience brain fog.

                Instead of skipping a few hours of sleep to get ahead of things you need to do, you’ll end up taking away productive hours from your day, because you won’t be able to concentrate and your thoughts will be cloudy.

                Many people have trouble sleeping but you can help improve your sleep by a following a few simple steps.

                Advertising

                There is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, which is a technique that regulates your breath and helps you fall asleep faster. Another well-known technique is to avoid bright lights before you go to sleep.

                A lot of us are guilty of falling asleep with the TV on or with our phone right by us, but the blue lights from these screens suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, which actually makes us stay awake longer instead. If you’re having trouble going to sleep without doing something before you close your eyes, then try taking up reading instead.

                If you want to feel more energized throughout the day, start doing this.

                5. Hormonal changes

                Brain fog can be triggered by hormonal changes. Whenever your levels of progesterone and estrogen increases, you may experience short-term cognitive impairment and your memory can get bad.

                If you’re pregnant or going through menopause, then you shouldn’t worry too much if your mind suddenly starts to get a bit cloudy. Focus on keeping a good diet, getting enough of sleep and the brain fog should pass once you’re back to normal.

                6. Medication

                If you’re on some medication, then it’s very normal to start experiencing some brain fog.

                You may start to forget things that you used to be able to remember, or you get easily confused. Maybe you can’t concentrate the same way that you used to. All of these things can be very scary, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

                Brain fog is a very normal side effect of drugs, but by lowering your dosage or switching over to another drug; the side effect can’t often be improved and maybe even completely removed.

                Advertising

                7. Medical condition

                Brain fog can often be a symptom of a medical condition. Medical conditions that include inflammation, fatigue, changes in blood glucose level are known to cause brain fog.

                Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, diabetes, migraines, hypothyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Lupus and dehydration can all cause brain fog.[2]

                The bottom line

                If you haven’t been diagnosed, then never start browsing around Google for the conditions and the symptoms. Once you start looking for it; it’s very easy to (wrongfully) self-diagnose.

                Take a step back, put away the laptop and relax. If you’re worried about being sick, then always check in with your doctor and take it from there.

                Remember, the list of things that can cause brain fog is long and it can be something as simple as the wrong diet or not enough sleep.

                Featured photo credit: Asdrubal luna via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1]Food Allergy: Common Allergens
                [2]HealthLine: 6 Possible Causes of Brain Fog

                Read Next