Without your knowing it, stress can be wreaking havoc on your health. In fact, even being in a stressed state for a short time can already affect your body. You will experience a faster heart rate, you end up breathing faster, your muscles tense up and you will have sweaty hands.
Worse, you might be in a chronic, or long-term, state of stress without you realizing it. Some people tend to dismiss it or believe that it is normal.
Allowing yourself to remain in this state can truly lead to a serious health issue, which is why watching out for some signs of your body’s reaction to stress and symptoms of the following conditions is the only way to stay healthy. Once you find yourself in a chronically stressed state or exhibiting symptoms of these health problems, it is best to go to your doctor.
5 Health Problems Brought About By Stress
- Heart Disease
The body has a natural response to stressful moments, specifically releasing two hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. When the body is stressed for a longer amount of time, it is exposed to an unhealthy level of these hormones.
The end result is the inflammation of your heart muscle, which can lead to heart disease. It also changes how your blood clots, thus making your risk of heart attacks higher. Lastly, you will experience higher blood pressure, which leads to overeating, missing exercise, or smoking.
- Irritable Bowel Disease
This chronic condition affects mainly your large intestine, and the symptoms include pain, diarrhea, cramping, bloating or constipation. Being stressed can lead to a flare-up of this condition. Beyond being linked to stress, it is also common for IBS patients to report being depressed or anxious.
It is believed that stress leads to more movement and sensitivity of the intestines and trigger symptoms of unpleasant bowel movement. Beyond that, stress can affect the gut microbiome and affect the immune system. Thus, IBS patients will find their symptoms become less when they are not stressed.
- Tension Headaches
Being stressed is commonly linked to having tension headaches, described as a dull pain in the neck or head. Even a single stressful event can trigger the headaches and when you are in a constant state of stress, you will experience episodes more often.
- High Blood Sugar
The body has its ways to respond to stress. One of them is to release adrenaline, glucagon, and glucose from the liver. This is its way to ensure that you have the energy to handle the cause of your stress. Thus, levels of insulin fall while cortisol and growth and hormones increase, and the body becomes less sensitive to insulin.
When there is more glucose in the bloodstream, the end result is higher levels of blood sugar. When you have high blood sugar for a while, it is not good for your body.
You will notice some symptoms like blurred vision, flushed skin, light-headedness, being more thirsty and peeing more often, and being restless. It may also lead to you developing diabetes, with men under chronic stress conditions being 45% more at risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s Disease
While the connection between this condition and stress has not yet been proven, it is believed that stress leads to brain inflammation, which also leads to other health problems.
Moreover, stress is linked to depression, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Lastly, a study has shown that going through a stressful life experience like the death of a family member or financial loss leads to the brain aging by about 1.5 years.
Minimizing Stress Is Good For The Health
Because stress can truly affect your overall health, taking the right steps to relax after a busy day or developing strategies to handle difficult situations is key to staying in top shape.
There are many steps that you can take, from making sure you engage in a hobby or a fun activity to destress from a long day at work to meditating. Writing or talking to someone allows you also to unload any negative feelings while exercise counters stress by lowering the levels of stress hormones.
Stress cannot be avoided in modern life, but this does not mean that everyone has to suffer these stress-related conditions. It is entirely possible, and important, to live a balanced life where you feel at peace and happy.