Stress can cause a number of physical stress symptoms and these physical stress symptoms can actually help to identify and timely address the problem. A correct diagnosis is the key to overcome stress.
It is believed that more than 50% of all visits to doctors are initially caused by stress. Many health care professionals consider stress as one of the fundamental reasons for illnesses such as cancer and heart attack.
Others have already proved that humans under stress are more vulnerable and not resistant to trivial diseases such as the simple flu. Numerous couples all around the world and especially Europe and USA are struggling in having their own babies because of stress. And because stress may accumulate slowly, it may be difficult to notice it and if not relieved it may seriously affect your overall health. Thus stress accumulates day by day and the physical stress effects may show up unnoticed by you.
Stress and Its Physical Effects on the Body’s Internal Systems
Stress and the Nervous System
Whenever we are stressed out, either physical stress or psychological stress, the body suddenly shifts its energy resources to combat stress, the perceived threat. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol in what is known as fight or flight response and these make the beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. Once the crisis passes though, the system usually returns to normal.
Stress and the Musculoskeletal System
Whenever stressed out, the muscles tense up and the muscle contractions that extend for periods of time can trigger tension headaches, migraines and various musculoskeletal conditions.
Stress and the Respiratory System
Whenever one feels stressed out, your breathing becomes harder, causing rapid breathing which can bring on the panic attacks in some people.
Stress and the Cardiovascular System
Acute stress, a type of stress that happens momentary due to being stuck in traffic for example can cause an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of stress can cause inflammation in the coronary arteries, thought to lead to heart attack.
Stress and the Endocrine System
Stress affects the adrenal glands which happens when the body feels stressed, sending brain signals from the hypothalamus which then causes the adrenal complex to produce cortisol and the adrenal modulla to produce epinephrine or what is sometimes called “stress hormones.”
Stress also affects the liver. This happens when cortisol and epinephrine are released, causing the liver to produce more glucose which would give you the necessary energy to fight or flight in an emergency.
Stress and the Gastrointestinal System
Stress affects the esophagus by prompting you to eat more or much less than you usually do when under stressed. If you eat more foods or increase your use of tobacco or alcohol whenever you are stressed out, you may experience heartburn or acid reflux.
Ever hear of ‘butterflies in your tummy’ expression? That’s stress. When you’re under a lot of stress, it can also cause nausea or pain in the stomach which can make you vomit under extreme stress.
Stress can also affect digestion and which nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how quickly the food moves through your body. As a result of stress, you may have diarrhea or constipation.
Stress and the Reproductive System
Chronic stress in men can impair testosterone and sperm production, which can cause impotence. In women, stress cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles or more painful periods. Stress can also reduce sexual desire.
Stress and the Immune System
Under stress your body needs energy to run or fight which changes the body’s chemistry to suppress the immune system. So whenever we experience workplace stress or stress in school we feel ill.
Stress and its Other Physical Effects
There are also other physical effects of stress such as:
Numbness is a physical effect of stress wherein you can’t feel anything in a particular body part such as arms or legs.
Headaches might be caused by different reasons, one of them being chronic overwork and stress. In addition tensions and deep disappointments can also result in stress and terrible headaches.
Hot and Cold Waves are physical effects of stress wherein you feel hot and cold, irrelevant of what the temperature of the air is. Whenever you feel stressed out, you may first feel hot and immediately afterwords cold.
Sweating is another physical effect of stress wherein you sweat for no reason even if it is cold. Sweating caused by stress starts from palms and armpits and can show up on face and the whole body.
Most of the stated things above may be normal reactions to changes in the surrounding environment but they become stress signs – physical effects of stress if they manifest persistently in the course of time and we can’t restore completely to our normal physical condition.