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  Life   Health  20 Jan 2018  Stress can make you physically ill: Study

Stress can make you physically ill: Study

THE ASIAN AGE
Published : Jan 20, 2018, 2:28 pm IST
Updated : Jan 20, 2018, 2:28 pm IST

Stress management tools like breathing exercises and yoga are prescribed by doctors to treat disorders like asthma.

It was found that stress impacts the response of 'defense chemicals' which are responsible for fighting off bacteria or viruses. (Photo: Pixabay)
 It was found that stress impacts the response of 'defense chemicals' which are responsible for fighting off bacteria or viruses. (Photo: Pixabay)

A new study has revealed that stress can make you physically ill by hijacking your immune system.

The study carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan revealed how stress interacts with immunity cells that protect the body against diseases and manifests into physical illness.

 

It was found that stress impacts the response of 'defense chemicals' which are responsible for fighting off bacteria or viruses, and amplifies inflammatory and allergic reactions such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and autoimmune disorders such as lupus.

Stress management tools like breathing exercises and yoga are prescribed by doctors to treat disorders like asthma and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Stress receptors, known as corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF1), send signals to certain immune cells, called mast cells, and this controls the body's defence.

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell which get triggered during stressful situations and are also involved with inflammatory responses like hypersensitivity and allergic reactions when the immune system fights off an assumed threat. 

 

The researchers conducted a mouse study to understand immune cell responses to psychological and allergic stress. There were two groups of mice with one having stress receptors in their mast cells, while the other group didn't. 

It was discovered that the mice with stress receptors had high levels of disease, while those without had less disease and were protected against both psychological and allergic stress. 

Associate professor Adam Moeser who specializes in stress-induced diseases explained to the Daily Mail that when mast cells are triggered during stressful situations they are susceptible to being controlled by stress receptors.

 

He added, "When this happens, CRF1 tells these cells to release chemical substances that can lead to inflammatory and allergic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, life-threatening food allergies and autoimmune disorders such as lupus."

So chemical substances like histamine, which is produced by mast cells to get rid of invading allergens can become life-threatening. 

While the normal response to an allergen would be inflammation, itching, sneezing and runny nose, under stress the responses got intensified and escalated to trouble breathing, anaphylactic shock and even death. 

According to the American Psychological Association sleep and stress are inversely proportional, when stress increases, length and quality of sleep decreases.

 

And this lack of sleep can leave a person feeling more stressed. 

Stress causes several problems other than just affecting your sleep, it is also responsible for health concerns like insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, inabilty to make decisions and lack of concentration.

The study, published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Tags: journal of leukocyte biology, allergen, histamine, health, sleep, stress, mast cells, university of michigan, insomnia, depression, mental health