Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Can Stress Weaken Your Immune System

Avogel’s Immune System Advisor Dr Jen Tan Says

Immune System Busters – 4 Things That Can Weaken Your Immune System

‘Strange as this may seem, laughter is great for your immune function. It boosts infection-fighting white blood cells and reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood stream. Sleep, now doesnt that sound like a good idea? Sleep deprivation and sleep problems are rife in todays society, leading to all sorts of problems, not least fatigue at school and work. Establishing a healthy sleep routine, and getting the optimum seven and a half to nine hours sleep a night is important for keeping your immune system ticking at top speed.’ How to Boost Your Immune System

From Cancer To Colds Were Better Able To Fight Disease When We Arent Constantly Worried

When were stressed out, our bodys internal chemistry changes. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone alongside adrenaline and norepinephrine, surges. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and more of that glucose is allocated to the brain.

Thats good the chain reaction helps our bodies in the so-called fight-or-flight response, which has a deep evolutionary history and dwells within us even today. When potential predators were around, our ancient ancestors needed that extra boost to figure out whether to take them on or run away. Nowadays, the same biochemical responses spring into action to help us react quickly when were under pressure.

Our bodies, however, no longer only do this when were seriously threatened.The same processes are triggered when were late for work or arguing with family members. And after dealing with a pandemic for over a year, many more Americans are becoming acquainted with prolonged psychological stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America poll. Often times, our response to this stress can be more harmful than helpful.

We know that the immune system is capable of looking at these proteins and reacting, says Willem van Eden, an immunologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Protracted exposure to higher levels of stress hormones comes along with myriad side effects within the immune system.

What Can We Learn

“Our study helps clarify the association between social stress and faster immune aging. It also highlights potential ways to slow down immune aging, such as changing how people cope with stress and improving lifestyle behaviors like diet, smoking and exercise. Developing effective cytomegalovirus vaccines may also help alleviate immune system aging,” Eric Klopack a lead researcher on the USC team said.

“Our study helps clarify the association between social stress and faster immune aging”

Eric Klopack

It is important to note, however, that epidemiological studies cannot completely establish cause and effect. More research is needed to confirm whether stress reduction or lifestyle changes will lead to improvements in immune aging, and to better understand how stress and latent pathogens like cytomegalovirus interact to cause illness and death.

“We are currently using additional data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine how these and other factors like childhood adversity affect immune aging over time,” Klopack said.

Less aged immune systems are better able to fight infections and generate protective immunity from vaccines. Immunosenescence may help explain why people are likely to have more severe cases of COVID-19 and a weaker response to vaccines as they age. Understanding what influences immune aging may help researchers better address age-related disparities in health and illness.

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What Is Signs Of A Weak Immune System

Signs of a weak immune system include frequent cold, infections, digestive problems, delayed wound healing, skin infections, fatigue, organ problem, delayed growth, a blood disorder, and autoimmune diseases. The immune system helps protect the body from harmful pathogens and other environmental risks.

Can Your Stress Level Be Diagnosed

How Does Stress Affect Your Immune System?

There are two forms of stress, chronic and acute stress:

  • Acute stress: This kind of stress is fleeting. You experience it when you are late for the bus or suddenly thrown into an argument.
  • Chronic stress: A form of stress that lasts for weeks or maybe even months. Its also known as long-term stress. Symptoms of chronic stress include anxiety, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and weight changes. This form of stress can negatively impact your health. When diagnosing chronic stress, your doctor will ask about stressors in your life and how you respond to those stressors.

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The Stress & Immune System Link: How Are They Connected

Quick Health Scoop

  • Both acute and chronic stress can impact the body
  • Facing a perceived danger triggers the release of fight-or-flight stress hormones, including adrenaline, dopamine, cortisol, and norepinephrine
  • The link between stress and immunity is complex, but the effect of stress on immune system can be significantespecially when dealing with chronic stress
  • You can take steps to fortify your immune system

Most people face some stress on a regular basis. Acute stress occurs when something temporarily upsets ussuch as a student nervous about taking an exam or a commuter who just missed the train to work. Chronic stress occurs when we deal with an upsetting situation for a long time, such as taking care of an ailing parent or living paycheck-to-paycheck for months or years.

While stress can be tough to deal with anytime, the ongoing past few years have been especially tough for many. In fact, the American Psychological Association recently conducted a survey called Stress in America. The study found that, although general stress levels remained steady over recent years and most people maintain a positive outlook, about one-third feel overwhelmed with daily struggles. Moreover, roughly 32% of adults are sometimes so stressed that they struggle to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat or what to wear.

All this might make you wonder about the link between stress and immune system. In particular, can stress weaken your immune system?

Anxiety Can Weaken Your Immune System

While in the short term the release of cortisol is helpful, in a long-term anxiety spiral is can leave you vulnerable. “When you experience prolonged stress, your body needs those T-cells and white blood cells, and unfortunately, cortisol continues to suppress them, thus weakening your immune system over time.”

It’s important to note that anxiety does not actually cause you to get sick, however, when your immune system is compromised you are likely to get sick more often, and it can take you longer to recover. If you feel like you’re in a cycle of anxiety and illness, the first step to boosting your immune system is addressing your anxiety. The Calm Clinic recommends a few things that might make you feel less anxious while also strengthening your immune system, including exercise, staying hydrated, and massage.

If you deal with regular anxiety, the last thing you probably want is one more person giving you tips on how to manage your anxiety. I get it. Everyone is different, and just because running helped one person reduce anxiety does not mean it’s going to work for you. Yoga is one thing that is suggested to me over and over again, but because I have chronic neck and shoulder pain from a childhood injury, yoga actually hurts my body, which in turn causes me more anxiety about having more pain.

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How Does Stress Affect The Immune System

Stress can take a toll on your mental health, especially if its chronic. But can it affect your immune response? Learn how stress levels affect your immune system and what you can do to keep your stress levels in check.


Stress and the immune system have a complex relationship. Your immune system knows when youre stressed about work, family, finances or current events. The bodys natural defender is sensitive to psychological stress, especially if its chronic.

How Do You Fight Covid Fatigue

Stress weakens your immune system

What Can I Do to Manage COVID Fatigue?

  • Accept that fatigue is a real side effect of having COVID-19.
  • Make sure to get a good night’s sleep. …
  • Try relaxation techniques like mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and tai chi. …
  • Plan ahead on what you can get done with limited energy.
  • Prioritize the tasks that are important.
  • Don’t Miss: What To Do When You Are Very Stressed

    The Effects Of Stress And Their Impact On Your Health

    Stress and health are closely connected which can take a toll on your body.

    Stress is a response to a perceived threat or danger. Threats trigger our stress response, including factors related to things like work, finances, and relationships. Stress can be temporary or it can hang on long-term, affecting hormones, mood, illness, and all aspects of your health and wellness.

    Avoid People Who Are Sick

    People with a weak immune system should avoid being too near to anyone who has a cold or another infection.

    Viruses and other infectious illnesses can spread from person to person through close contact. They can also spread in the water droplets that a person expels into the air when they cough or sneeze.

    It is not always possible to avoid people who are ill. However, a person with a weak immune system should always avoid close contact, such as hugging or kissing, with the unwell person until the illness resolves. They should also avoid sharing food and beverages with the person.

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    Why Stress Is The Enemy Of Your Immune System

    The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism for keeping us protected and safe from the bacteria, germs and viruses which we inadvertently ingest. Good health is dependent on it’s proper functioning, and like so many other systems in the body it is prone to the adverse effects of stress.The immune system, is poised, like a police force, to deal with these threatening invaders, swiftly and efficiently, to prevent them from damaging our health.Did you know?Offices are good locations for transmission of viruses Cold viruses can live on pens, computer keyboards, coffee mugs and other objects for hours, so it’s easy to come into contact with such viruses during daily life. We touch our noses approximately 5 times per hour. Infected office workers coat up to 40% of a rooms surface with viruses.Every day, billions of banknotes are exchanged worldwide making them a perfect vector for transmission. Influenza viruses stay infectious on banknotes for up to 17 days!

    What Is The Link Between Stress & Your Immune System

    How Stress Affects Your Immunity

    Before we dig into how stress is related to the immune system, it is important to know about the white blood cells in the human body. Also known as immune cells, these white blood cells travel inside the human body through the bloodstream. They provide protection against foreign antigens such as viruses, bacterias and cancerous body cells.

    The B cells and T cells are two main lymphocytes that form an integral part of the human immune system. Of these, B cells are the first difference mechanic of your body. When any foreign body enters your body, the B cells start secreting antibodies to destroy the antigen before it can enter your bodys cells. If the antigen manages to enter your body somehow, then T cells work by locking and destroying the infected cells of your body.

    When you are under stress, the stress hormone cortisol is secreted. It potentially reduces the fighting ability of your immune system, as it lowers the production of lymphocytes in your body. As a result, your bodys strength against fighting the antigen weakens.

    Stress also affects your immune system in another manner. If distressed people choose addictive habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs etc, the bodys health is ruined from its core. An unhealthy body, thereby leads to a weak immune system.

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    What Are The Effects Of Stress On The Immune System

    Over time, the effects of stress can build up in your brain and body. This kind of long-term, or chronic stress can weaken the immune system1, putting you at risk for sickness from simple colds to more serious illnesses.

    When you feel stress, your body creates a hormone called cortisol, which enters the bloodstream. For short durations, cortisol can help regulate many of your bodys natural functions, including sleep, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar.2However, when you are suffering with long-term stress, cortisol levels remain elevated. This contributes to inflammation and reduced white blood cell counts, both of which can weaken the immune system.

    Stress And Infectious Agents

    Stress can also dysregulate humoral and cellular immune responses to pathogens, increasing risk for infectious illnesses including influenza and the common cold . The association between psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold has long been recognized stress suppresses the host resistance to infection and increases rates of infection . Loneliness is another well-established risk factor for poor physical health. In a study of our own, we were able to demonstrate that loneliness predicts self-reported cold symptoms after a viral challenge, suggesting that cold symptoms are more severe among those who feel lonely .

    Vaccination against influenza virus reduces both risk and severity of infection, thus decreasing risk for hospitalization and death. Vaccine effectiveness is of particular importance among high-risk groups, including pregnant women and older adults. However, the protective efficacy of antiviral vaccines depends upon their ability to induce both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses .

    In summary, stress can not only increase susceptibility to illness after exposure to infectious agents but also can inhibit antibody and virus-specific T cell responses to vaccines, permit reactivation of latent herpesviruses, and influence the progression of HIV-related disease.

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    Stress Can Weaken Your Immune System

    One theory on the connection between stress and cancer is that you are at a higher risk because of your weakened immune system. Research on the link between stress and cancer is conflicting.

    Living with chronic stress for an extended period could weaken your immune system. The role of your immune system is to protect your body from diseases and infections. A weakened immune system could make you more susceptible to developing cancer.

    In a 2017 study on the effect stress in the workplace has on men with prostate cancer, researchers concluded that there was a link between exposure to prolonged workplace stress and an increased risk of developing prostate cancer before the age of 65.

    Some research shows that stress may also encourage the spread of cancer in people with the condition, particularly in those with breast, ovarian or colorectal cancer. When your body is stressed, it ramps the production of hormones such as norepinephrine. These hormones are thought to stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

    Individual Differences And Immune Change Under Stress

    Stress Weakens Your Immune System

    The meta-analytic results indicate that organismic variables such as age and disease status moderate vulnerability to stress-related decreases in functional immune measures. Both aging and HIV are associated with immune senescence and loss of responsiveness , and both are also associated with disruption of neuroendocrine inputs to the immune system . The loss of self-regulation in disease and aging likely makes affected people more susceptible to negative immunological effects of stress. Finally, the meta-analysis did not reveal effects of sex on immune responses to stressors. However, these comparisons simply correlated the sex ratio of the studies with effect sizes. Grouping data by sex would afford a more powerful comparison, but few studies organized their data that way. Gender may moderate the effects of stress on immunity by virtue of the effects of sex hormones on immunity generally, men are considered to be more biologically vulnerable , and they may be more psychosocially vulnerable .

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    Study After Study Has Shown That Being Stressed Can Severely Compromise Your Immune System And In A Time Of Global Pandemic Its Important To Understand The Link Between Your Mental And Physical Health

    Dr. Sara Belouidiane is a senior clinical psychologist who graduated from from Frances Burgundy university. She has over 17 years working in different mental health services .

    Two people can get COVID-19. One can show no symptoms, while the other can experience irreparable damage to their health.

    The last line of defense against disease will always be your own immune system. So what is the link between our mental health and our physical immunity?

    Pathways Between Stress And The Immune System

    How could stress get inside the body to affect the immune response? First, sympathetic fibers descend from the brain into both primary and secondary lymphoid tissues . These fibers can release a wide variety of substances that influence immune responses by binding to receptors on white blood cells . Though all lymphocytes have adrenergic receptors, differential density and sensitivity of adrenergic receptors on lymphocytes may affect responsiveness to stress among cell subsets. For example, natural killer cells have both high-density and high-affinity 2-adrenergic receptors, B cells have high density but lower affinity, and T cells have the lowest density . Second, the hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal axis, the sympatheticadrenalmedullary axis, and the hypothalamicpituitaryovarian axis secrete the adrenal hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol the pituitary hormones prolactin and growth hormone and the brain peptides melatonin, -endorphin, and enkephalin. These substances bind to specific receptors on white blood cells and have diverse regulatory effects on their distribution and function . Third, peoples efforts to manage the demands of stressful experience sometimes lead them to engage in behaviorssuch as alcohol use or changes in sleeping patternsthat also could modify immune system processes . Thus, behavior represents a potentially important pathway linking stress with the immune system.

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    Editorial: Stress And Immunity

    • 1Department of Biological Science at College of Natural Science, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, South Korea
    • 2School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, South Korea
    • 3Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

    Editorial on the Research TopicStress and Immunity

    Research regarding stress and its relation to the immune system has always been of interest for the medical and scientific community. In relation to the Stress and Immunity Research Topic we have to recognize the existence of two distant and seemingly unrelated forms of stress: physicochemical stress and psychological stress. In both forms of stress we see that the body has a tenacious ability to adapt to the changes in the environment thus adjusting itself accordingly. But the interplay between different stressors and the ever-elusive immune system has made this research increasingly fascinating.

    The relationship between stress and the immune system is bidirectional and can affect each other in ways that are quite elusive and thus has attracted much attention from the scientific community. The team of Holzer et al. has introduced the reverse path of immune function leading to stress responses, especially from the visceral system to brain function, behavior, and stress coping. Effects of immune activation stress on brain function may well have a bearing on mental health and may lead to novel therapeutic possibilities.

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