Facts on Colon Cancer

The death of Chad Bosman, the actor, has raised awareness and concern for Facts On Colon Cancer - What is Colon Cancer?colon cancer. The purpose of this article is to inform readers about the facts on colon cancer.

What is Colon Cancer?

Cancer is abnormal cell growth. Colon cancer is cancer that starts in the colon, also known as the large intestine. The colon is the closing stretch of the digestive tract.

Colon cancer is occasionally called colorectal cancer, which is a term that links colon cancer and rectal cancer, which commences in the rectum.

Causes of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer typically starts as small, benign (noncancerous) masses of cells called polyps that develop on the inside of the colon. Over time, a few of these polyps can become cancerous, forming colon cancers. Colon cancer usually affects older adults, although it can happen at any age.

Actually, physicians are not sure what the cause of most colon cancers is.

Generally speaking, colon cancer begins when healthy cells in the colon develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. Within a cell’s DNA is a set of instructions that instruct it on what it should do.

Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly and systematic way to keep the body functioning normally. However, when a cell’s DNA is flawed and becomes cancerous, cells continue to divide — even when new cells aren’t needed. As the cells accumulate, they form a tumor.

Over time, the cancer cells can increase to invade and destroy normal nearby tissue. Also, these cancerous cells can travel to other parts of the body to form deposits there (metastasis).

Risk Factors

There are some factors that can increase the risk of developing colon cancer which include:

  • Age. Colon cancer can be detected at any age, but a more significant number of people with colon cancer are older than 50. The rates of colon cancer in people younger than 50 have been on the rise, but doctors are not sure why.
  • Race. African-Americans have an increased risk of colon cancer individuals of other races.
  • Personal history. If an individual has already had colon cancer or noncancerous colon polyps, there is a greater risk of colon cancer in the future.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can add to the risk of colon cancer.
  • Inherited syndromes. Some gene mutations passed through generations of a family can increase the risk of colon cancer considerably. It is only a small percentage of colon cancers linked to inherited genes.
  • Family history. An individual is more likely to develop colon cancer if he or she has a blood relative who has had the disease. If more than one family member has or previously had colon cancer or rectal cancer, the risk is even greater.
  • Diet. Low-fiber, high-fat. Colon cancer and rectal cancer links with a typical Western diet, which is low in fiber and high in fat and calories. Research conducted in this area has had mixed results. Some studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in individuals who consume large amounts of red meat and processed meat.
  • A sedentary lifestyle. Inactive individuals are more likely to contract colon cancer. Getting regular physical exercise may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Diabetes. Individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance have a heightened risk of colon cancer.
  • Obesity. People who are obese have an increased risk of colon cancer and an increased risk of dying of colon cancer when compared with people considered average weight.
  • Smoking. People who smoke may have a heightened risk of colon cancer.
  • Alcohol. Heavy consumption of alcohol amplifies the risk of colon cancer.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy for cancers directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers increases the risk of colon cancer.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Most individuals with colon cancer do not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they tend to vary, Facts on Colon Cancer - Symptoms of Colon Cancerdepending on the size of the cancerous cells and the location in the large intestine.

Signs and symptoms:

  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t clear out entirely
  • A persistent change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a difference in the consistency of the stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomforts, including cramps, gas or pain
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

Treatment of Colon Cancer

Screening

Physicians recommend specific screening tests for healthy people with no signs or symptoms to look for signs of colon cancer or noncancerous colon polyps. Finding colon cancer at its earliest stage provides the most excellent chance for a cure. Screening has proven to reduce the risk of dying of colon cancer.

Doctors, in general, advise that people with an average risk of colon cancer begin screening around age 50. The American Cancer Society recommends

All About Colonoscopy - diagnosing colon cancer Colon
The Colononscopy Scope in action!

age 45. Additionally, individuals with a heightened risk, for example, those with a family history of colon cancer or African-American heritage, should consider screening sooner.

Several screening options exist — each with its benefits and drawbacks. A patient should discuss the options with their doctor, and together they can decide which tests are appropriate. If a colonoscopy is used for screening, polyps can be easily removed during the procedure before they turn into cancer.

Diagnosing

If a patient’s signs and symptoms indicate that they could have colon cancer, the doctor may recommend one or more tests and procedures, including:

  • Colonoscopy. A colonoscopy uses a long, flexible, and slender tube attached to a video camera and monitor to view the entire colon and rectum. If any suspicious areas are located, the physician can pass surgical tools through the tube to take biopsies (tissue samples) for analysis as well as remove polyps. For more information on colonoscopy, please see the article, All About Colonoscopy, on this website.
  • Blood tests. A blood test cannot tell a patient if they have colon cancer. But the doctor may test the blood for clues regarding overall health, for example, kidney and liver function tests.

The doctor may additionally test the blood for a chemical occasionally produced by colon cancers (carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA). Tracked over time, the level of CEA in the blood may assist the doctor in understanding the diagnosis and whether the cancer is responding favorably to treatment.

If a patient has been diagnosed with colon cancer, a doctor may recommend tests to determine the extent (stage) of cancer. Staging helps decide what treatments are most appropriate.

Staging tests may incorporate imaging procedures such as abdominal, pelvic, and chest CT scans. In most cases, the stage of cancer may not be Facts on Colon Cancer - Treatment for Colon Cancerentirely resolved until after colon cancer surgery.

The stages of colon cancer are indicated by Roman numerals that range from 0 to IV (4), with the lower stages representing cancer that is limited to the lining of the inside of the colon. By stage IV, the disease is deemed advanced and has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body.

To summarize, if colon cancer develops, many treatments are available to help control it, including surgery, radiation therapy, and drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Prevention

Lifestyle changes

An individual can take steps to reduce the risk of colon cancer by making changes in his or her everyday life. It is advisable to:

  • Diet. Eat a wide array of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits, whole grains, and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which could play a role in cancer prevention. It is wise to choose a variety of Facts on Colon Cancer - preventing colon cancerfruits and vegetables to enable one to get an array of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If an individual chooses to drink alcohol, he or she should limit the amount of alcohol they drink to no more than one (1) drink a day for women and two (2) for men.
  • Quit smoking. If an individual smokes, they should talk to their doctor about ways to quit that may work for them.
  • Exercise. An individual should exercise most days of the week by getting at least thirty (30) minutes of exercise on most days. But it is crucial to keep in mind that if you’ve been inactive, start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes. Also, consult with your physician before commencing any exercise program.

Maintain a healthy weight.
If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain that weight by joining a healthy diet with regular, daily exercise. If you need to reduce weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Endeavor to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you perform and reducing the number of calories you eat.

Prevention for people with a high risk

Some medications are found to reduce the risk of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. For example, some evidence ties a reduced risk of polyps and colon cancer to regular use of aspirin or aspirin-like drugs. But it is unclear what dose and what length of time would be required to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Additionally, taking aspirin on a daily basis has some risks, including gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.

These options are reserved for people with a high risk of colon cancer. There isn’t enough evidence to recommend these medications to individuals who have an average risk of colon cancer.

If you have an increased risk of colon cancer, discuss your risk factors with your heal care practitioner to determine whether preventive medications are safe for you.

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns below.

Good Health!!

 

 

 

 

Osteoporosis: The Facts

There is a disease that creeps upon us after age 50, especially in women. This is a bone disease known as Osteoporosis. For those looking for answers regarding this disease, this article should shed some light as it explores Osteoporosis: The Facts.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease. It is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. This can eventually lead to bone fractures from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Osteoporosis means “porous bone.”

What is Osteoporosis Caused By?

Osteoporosis occurs when the body doesn’t make enough bone, loses excessive amounts of bone, or both. Our bones are in a perpetual state of renewal — new bone is produced and old bone is discarded. In our youth, the body produces new bone faster than it tears down old bone, and the bone mass increases. After the early 20s, this process slows down, and a majority of individuals reach their maximum bone mass by age 30. As individuals age, bone mass is diminished faster than it is produced.

How viable we are to develop osteoporosis depends somewhat on what amount of bone mass we accumulate in our youth. Peak bone mass is to some extent inherited and varies additionally by ethnic group. The higher our peak bone mass, the more bone we will have in reserve, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis as we age.

Risk Contributors

Several markers can increase the likelihood that an individual can develop osteoporosis — including race, age, lifestyle choices, and underlying medical conditions and treatments.

Some of these are out of our control, these include:

  • Race. There is the greatest risk of osteoporosis if an individual is white or of Asian descent.
  • Sex. Women are considerably more prone to develop osteoporosis than men are.
  • Age. The older an individual gets, the greater the risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Body frame size.
    Individuals, both men, and women who have small body frames are likely to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw upon as they age.
  • Family history.
    Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts one at greater risk, especially if their mother or father fractured a hip.

Other risk contributors some of which we can control include:

Hormone Levels – Osteoporosis is most likely to occur in people who have an excess or deficiency of certain hormones in their bodies. Examples are:

  • Thyroid problems.
    Excessive amounts of thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. This can occur if the thyroid is overactive or if an individual takes a disproportionate amount of thyroid hormone medication to treat an underactive thyroid.
  • Sex hormones.
    Decreased levels of sex hormones tend to weaken bone. The reduction of estrogen levels in females during menopause is one of the greatest risk factors for developing osteoporosis.

Men, as they age, have a gradual reduction in testosterone levels. Treatments for prostate cancer that diminish testosterone levels in men and treatments for breast cancer that diminish estrogen levels in women are likely to hasten bone loss.

  • Additional glands.
    Osteoporosis has additionally been linked with overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands.

Diet – Osteoporosis is in all probability to occur in individuals who have:

  • Low calcium intake.
    A lifelong deficiency of calcium plays a part in the advancement of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributes to weakened bone density, premature bone loss, and a heightened risk of fractures.
  • Eating disorders.
    Strictly restricting food intake and being underweight diminishes bone in both men and women.
  • Gastrointestinal surgery.
    Surgery to reduce the size of the stomach or to remove part of the intestine restricts the amount of surface area accessible to absorb nutrients, which includes calcium. These surgeries include those to help an individual lose weight and for other gastrointestinal issues.

Medications – Long-term use of corticosteroid medications either oral or injected, such as prednisone and cortisone, impedes the bone-rebuilding process. Osteoporosis has also been linked with medications used to fight or prevent such conditions as:

  • Gastric reflux
  • Seizures
  • Transplant rejection
  • Cancer

Underlying Medical conditions

The probability of osteoporosis is higher in individuals who have specific medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Lifestyle choices – Some lifestyle habits can increase the risk of osteoporosis. These include:

  • Inactive (Sedentary) lifestyle. Individuals who spend a lot of time sitting have an elevated risk of osteoporosis than do those that are more active. Any weight-bearing exercise and activities that advance balance and good posture are beneficial for the bones, but in particular, walking, running, jumping, dancing, and weightlifting seem especially helpful.
  • Excessive alcohol intake. Regular intake of more than two (2) alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Tobacco usage.
    The specific part tobacco plays in osteoporosis is not apparent, however, it has been shown that tobacco use contributes to weakened bones.

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

There usually are no symptoms in the early phase of bone loss. However, once the bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, an individual might have warnings and symptoms that include:

  • A stooped posture
  • Back pain, produced by a cracked or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A bone that fractures a great deal more easily than expectedOsteoporosis: The Facts

Even without symptoms, an individual may want to consult with a doctor about osteoporosis if they have gone through early menopause or took corticosteroids.

What are the complications of Osteoporosis?

Bone fractures are the most serious complications of osteoporosis, particularly in the spine or hip. Hip fractures are frequently caused by a fall and can subsequently result in disability and even an amplified risk of death within the first year after the injury.

In some cases, spinal fractures can happen even without a fall. The bones that make up the spine (vertebrae) can weaken to the point of crumbling, which can result in back pain, shortened height, and a bent forward posture.

Treating Osteoporosis

Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing osteoporosis is to test the density of the bones. Bone density is measured by a machine that makes the use of low levels of X-rays to establish the proportion of mineral in the bones. During this Osteoporosis: The Facts - Diagnosispainless test, the patient lies on a padded table as a scanner passes over the body. In a majority of cases, only a few bones are checked — generally the hip and spine. A score of -2.0 or lower indicates an osteoporosis condition.

Treatment

Treatment recommendations are usually based on an estimate of the risk of breaking a bone in the next ten years using information such as the results of the bone density test. If the risk is not high, treatment may not include medication and instead might focus on modifying risk factors for bone loss and falls.

For both males and females at increased risk of fracture, the most widely prescribed osteoporosis medications are called bisphosphonates. Some common names include:

  • Alendronate (Binosto, Fosamax)
  • Ibandronate (Boniva)
  • Risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia)
  • Zoledronic acid (Reclast, Zometa)

You may recognize some of these names from television commercials.Osteoporosis: The Facts-Treatment

Side effects can include abdominal pain, nausea, and heartburn-like symptoms. These are less probable to occur if the medication is taken correctly.

There are intravenous forms of bisphosphonates that do not cause stomach upset but can cause headache, fever, and muscle aches for up to three (3) days. It may be easier to schedule a quarterly or yearly injection than to recall taking a weekly or monthly pill; however, it can be more expensive to do so.

Another class of drugs is Monoclonal antibody medications.

In comparison with bisphosphonates, denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva) generates comparable or better bone density results and decreases the chance of all types of fractures. Denosumab is delivered via an injection under the skin every six (6) months.

If denosumab is chosen, the patient may have to continue to do so for an indefinite period. Recent research denotes that there could be a high risk of spinal column fractures after terminating the drug.

A very rare complication leading to a combination of bisphosphonates and denosumab is a break or crack in the middle of the thighbone.

A second rare difficulty is delayed healing of the jawbone (osteonecrosis of the jaw). This can come about after an invasive dental procedure such as a tooth extraction.

Patients should have a dental examination before commencing these medications, and continue to take good care of their teeth and see the dentist regularly while on them. Therefore, they must make sure their dentist knows that they are taking these medications.

Another form of treatment is hormone-related therapy

Estrogen, especially when started shortly after menopause, can assist in maintaining bone density. On the other hand, estrogen therapy can heighten the risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, blood clots, and possibly heart disease. Consequently, estrogen is normally used for bone health in younger women or in women, whose menopausal symptoms also need treatment.

Raloxifene (Evista) imitates estrogen’s favorable effects on bone density in postmenopausal women, without some of the risks connected with estrogen. Engaging this drug can reduce the risk of some types of breast cancer. Hot flashes are a common side effect. Raloxifene additionally may increase the risk of blood clots.

In men, osteoporosis might be coupled with a gradual age-related decline in testosterone levels. Testosterone replacement therapy can help in lessening the symptoms of low testosterone, but osteoporosis medications have been better studied in men to treat osteoporosis and therefore are recommended by them or in addition to testosterone.

Lastly, there are bone-building medications.

If an individual cannot tolerate these more common treatments for osteoporosis — or if they do not work well enough, a health-care practitioner might suggest trying one of these:

  • Teriparatide (Forteo).
    This powerful drug is comparable to parathyroid hormone and stimulates new bone growth. It is administered by daily injection under the skin. After two (2) years of treatment, another osteoporosis drug is used to maintain the new bone growth.
  • Abaloparatide (Tymlos) is an additional drug comparable to parathyroid hormone. It can only be taken for only two (2) years, which will be followed by another osteoporosis medication.
  • Romosozumab (Evenity).
    This is the most recent bone-building medication to treat osteoporosis. It is administered by injection every month at a physician’s office. It is limited to one (1) year of treatment, followed by other osteoporosis medications.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

Proper nutrition and regular exercise are vital for keeping bones healthy throughout life.

Protein

Protein is one of the structure blocks of bone. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding the impact of protein intake on bone density.

Most people get ample amounts of protein in their diets, however, some do not. Vegetarians and vegans can get ample protein in the diet if they purposely seek suitable sources, such as nuts, soy, legumes, and seeds for vegans, vegetarians, and eggs and dairy for vegetarians.

Older adults may eat less protein for a variety of reasons. If you think you are not getting enough protein, ask your doctor if supplementation is an option. For more information on protein, you may read the article, The Facts about Proteins,
on this website.

Weight

Being underweight multiplies the chance of bone loss and fractures. Additional weight is now known to increase the risk of fractures in the arm Osteoporosis: The Facts - Preventionand wrist. As such, maintaining appropriate body weight is good for bones just as it is for health in general.

Calcium

Both males and females between the ages of 18 and 50 require 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. This daily amount rises to 1,200 milligrams when women turn 50 and men turn 70.

Excellent sources of calcium include:

  • Calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice
  • Canned salmon or sardines with bones
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Soy products, such as tofu

If an individual finds it difficult to get enough calcium from their diet, they should consider taking calcium supplements. However, they must keep in mind that too much calcium has been linked to kidney stones. Although yet uncertain, some experts propose that too much calcium especially in supplements can increase the risk of heart disease.

The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recommends that the sum of calcium intake, from supplements and diet, combined, should be no more than 2,000 milligrams daily for individuals older than 50.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to take in calcium and improve bone health in other ways. Individuals can get some of their vitamin D from sunlight, but this may well not be a good source if people who live in high latitude, if they are housebound, or if they regularly use sunscreen or avoid the sun because of the risk of skin cancer.

To get enough vitamin D to maintain bone health, it is recommended that adults between the ages 51 to 70 get 600 international units (IU) and 800 IU a day beyond age 70 by way of food or supplements.

Individuals without other sources of vitamin D and especially those with limited sun exposure might need a supplement. Most multivitamin products contain between 600 and 800 IU of vitamin D. Up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day is safe for most people.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 plays a key role in the metabolism of calcium, which the primary mineral found in our bones and teeth. It triggers the calcium-binding actions of two (2) proteins — matrix GLA protein and osteocalcin, which aid in building and maintaining bones.

There is additionally substantial evidence from controlled studies that K2 may provide major benefits for bone health.

Vitamin K2 is produced by gut bacteria in the large intestine. There is some evidence that suggests that broad-spectrum antibiotics contribute to a K2 deficiency. However, the average intake of this important nutrient is incredibly low in the modern diet.

Vitamin K2 is principally found in specific animal and fermented foods, in which most individuals do not consume a large amount. Abundant animal supplies include high-fat dairy products from egg yolks, grass-fed cows, as well as liver and other organ meats. Vitamin K is fat-soluble, meaning low fat and lean animal products do not contain an abundance of it.

Animal foods have the MK-4 subtype, while fermented foods such as sauerkraut, natto and, miso pack more of the longer subtypes, MK-5 to MK-14.

If these foods are inaccessible, taking supplements is a valid alternative. The benefits of supplementing with K2 may be improved even further when combined with a vitamin D supplement since these two vitamins have synergistic effects. An excellent selection of vitamin D and K2 supplements can be found at THE VITAMIN SHOPPE.

Exercise

Exercise can assist in building strong bones and slow bone loss. It is never too late to start, but the most benefit will be gained if regular exercise is started during one’s youth and continues throughout life.

It is advisable to combine strength-training exercises with weight-bearing and balance exercises. Strength training aids in strengthening muscles and bones in the arms and upper spine. Weight-bearing exercises such as jogging, stair climbing, walking, running, skipping rope, skiing, and impact-producing sports — affect mainly the bones in your legs, hips and, lower spine. Balance exercises such as tai chi can reduce the risk of falling especially as one gets older.

Swimming, cycling, and exercising on machines such as elliptical trainers can yield a good cardiovascular workout, but they do not improve bone health.

Please leave any questions, comments, and concerns below.

Good Health!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress: The Facts

Stress is something we all know about. But how much do we know? Perhaps only knowing when we have it, right? Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will know all about, stress: the facts.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to what may be perceived as an extreme situation or circumstance. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities such as work and family to grave life events such as a new diagnosis from the doctor, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For urgent, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to our health. It can help an individual cope with possible serious situations. The body responds to stress by releasing hormones
that increase the heart and breathing rates and ready the muscles to respond.

Is Stress Bad?

Stress isn’t inevitably a bad thing. It can be healthy in cases where it helps one avoid an accident, meet a certain deadline, or keep our intellect intact in the midst of chaos.

Everybody feels stressed at times, but what one individual finds stressful may be very different from what another individual finds stressful. An example of this would a long transcontinental flight. Some love the thrill of it and others may be paralyzed at the very thought of it.

Although stress isn’t always bad, the important element in the equation is that it should be temporary. Once the emergency/crisis moment has passed, the heart rate and breathing should slow down and the muscles should relax. In a short period of time, the body should return to its natural state without any lasting negative effects.

But we know what too much of a good thing is. Therefore, in contrast, acute, recurrent, or extended stress can be mentally and physically damaging.

Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common. A survey revealed that 80 % of Americans reported that they had at least one symptom of stress in the past month. Twenty percent (20%) reported being under extreme stress.

Because of the busy lives we lead, it’s impossible to eliminate stress altogether. But there are ways to avoid it when possible and also manage it when it’s inescapable.

Causes of Stress

Some standard causes of acute or chronic stress include:

  • Surviving a life-threatening accident or illness
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Living through a natural or manmade disaster
  • Living with a chronic illness
  • Experiencing familial stress situations such as:
    • an unhappy marriage
    • prolonged divorce proceedings
    • child custody issues
    • an abusive relationship
  • Working in a dangerous profession
  • Being a caregiver for a loved one with a chronic illness.
  • Being homeless or living in poverty
  • Having negative work experiences
  • Deployment in the military

The conditions that can cause a person’s stress are endless because they are as diverse as individuals are.

Whatever the source, the effect on the body can be serious if left untreated.

Forms of Stress

There are several kinds of stress. They include:

  • acute stress
  • episodic acute stress
  • chronic stress

Acute stress – Everyone experiences acute stress. It is the body’s instant response to a new and challenging circumstance. It is the kind of stress one may feel when narrowly escaping a car accident.

Acute stress can additionally result in something that you actually enjoy. It’s rather frightening; yet exhilarating feeling one may get on a roller coaster or perhaps when skiing down a vertical mountain slope.Stress: The Facts

Acute stress incidents such as these don’t normally result in any harm to the body. They might even be beneficial to an individual. Stressful situations give the body and brain practice in formulating the best reaction to future stressful situations.

Once the danger passes, the body’s systems should return to normal.

However, severe acute stress is different. This type of stress, such as when one is faced with a life-threatening situation, can be the forerunner to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems.

Episodic acute stress – Episodic acute stress is when an individual has frequent incidents of acute stress.
This can happen if someone is often anxious and worried about things he or she suspects may happen. The individual may feel that their life is chaotic and seemingly go from one crisis to the next.

A variety of professions, such as law enforcement or firefighters, may additionally lead to recurrent high-stress situations.

Similar to severe acute stress, episodic acute stress can affect physical health and mental well-being.

Chronic stress – Chronic stress is when you have high-stress levels for an extended period. Long-term stress like this can have a negative impact on an individual’s health. It can contribute to:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • anxiety
  • high blood pressure
  • depression
  • a weakened immune system

Chronic stress can additionally lead to recurrent ailments such as headaches, an upset stomach, and sleep difficulties. Acquiring knowledge of the various types of stress can help.

Symptoms of Stress

Just as there are a variety of things that can cause stress, symptoms can be different also.

Even though it is unlikely for an individual to have them all, below are some symptoms you may experience if you’re under stress:

  • insomnia and other sleep problems
  • chronic pain
  • digestive problems
  •  lower sex drive
  • over or under eating
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • fatigue

One may feel overwhelmed, irritable, or fearful. Also, one may unwittingly be drinking or smoking more than they used to.Stress: The Facts - Stress of symptoms

Headache – Stress headaches, also known as tension headaches, are caused by tense muscles in the face, head, and neck. Some of the symptoms of a stress headache are:

  • feeling a band of pressure around the forehead
  • tenderness of the scalp and forehead
  • mild to moderate dull head pain

Various triggers that can spark a tension headache. But tight muscles could be due to emotional stress or anxiety.

Ulcer – A stomach ulcer — a type of peptic ulcer — is a sore on the lining of your stomach that’s caused by:

  • Infection with a stomach bacteria—helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
  • Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, moltrin, and alleve.
  • rare tumors and cancers

Research as to how physical stress interrelates with the immune system is currently ongoing. It is believed that physical stress may affect how one may heal from an ulcer. Physical stress can be due to:

  • serious long-term illness or injury
  • a surgical procedure
  • trauma or injury to the brain or central nervous system

Consecutively, the heartburn and pain of a stomach ulcer can lead to emotional stress.

Eating excessively – Some individuals act in response to stress by eating, even if they’re not hungry. If one should find themselves eating without thinking, eating heavily in the middle of the night, or generally eating much more than usual, they may be stress-eating.

When individuals stress eats, they take in a lot more calories than they need and they’re probably not choosing the healthiest foods. This can lead to fast weight gain and several health problems. Additionally, it does little to nothing to resolve the stress.

Work Stress – Work can be a cause of great stress for a variety of reasons. This type of stress can be occasional or chronic.

Stress at work can come from:

  • The feeling of a lack of power or control over what happens
  • Feeling stuck in a job that one dislikes and seeing no alternatives
  • Being made to do things an individual doesn’t think he or she should do
  • Involved with a conflict with a co-worker
  • Being overworked or having too much asked of an individual

If one is in a job they hate or are constantly responding to the demands of others’ without any control, stress seems unavoidable. Finding balance and managing stress is important to maintain optimal mental health.

Anxiety – Stress and anxiety frequently go hand in hand. While stress comes from the demands placed on the brain and body, anxiety is when an individual feels high levels of worry, uneasiness, or fear.

Anxiety can certainly be a consequence of episodic or chronic stress.

Having both stress and anxiety can have a severe negative impact on health, making an individual more likely to develop:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Panic disorder

Stress and anxiety both can be treated. There are varieties of strategies and resources that can help with both.

The Effects of Stress on the Body

As mentioned earlier, stress is helpful. It’s a natural physical and mental reaction to life occurrences. However, if the stress response doesn’t stop reacting, and the stress levels stay raised way longer than is necessary for survival, it can seriously affect health by causing problems with the following bodily systems.

Central nervous and endocrine systems – The central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of the “fight or flight” response mentioned earlier. In the brain, the hypothalamus starts the process by telling the adrenal glands to Stress: The Facts - The effects of stressrelease the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase the heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas where it is needed the most in an emergency, such as the muscles, heart, and other crucial organs.

When the fear is gone, the hypothalamus should tell the systems to go back to normal. If the CNS does not to normal, or if the stressor doesn’t depart, the response will continue.

Respiratory and cardiovascular systems – Stress hormones affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress response, breathing increases to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body. If an individual already has a breathing problem such as asthma or emphysema, stress can make it even harder to breathe.

While under stress, the heart additionally pumps faster. Stress hormones trigger the blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to the muscles enabling more strength to take action. However, this additionally raises blood pressure.

Consequently, frequent or chronic stress will cause the heart to work too hard for too long. When the blood pressure rises, so does the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Digestive system – Under stress, the liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to produce a boost of energy. When under chronic stress, the body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge. Therefore chronic stress may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This shot of hormones, increased breathing, and elevated heart rate can additionally upset the digestive system. It is also more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux due to an increase in stomach acid. Stress doesn’t bring about ulcers (a bacterium called H. pylori often does), but it can increase the risk for them and cause existing ulcers to worsen.

Stress can also affect the way food moves through the body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. One might additionally experience nausea, vomiting, or a stomachache.

Muscular system – The muscles tense up to guard themselves against injury when the body is stressed. They tend to release again once an individual relaxes, but when constantly under stress, the muscles may not be able to relax. Tight muscles bring about headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches. Ultimately, this can set off an unhealthy cycle as to discourage exercising and instead opting for pain medication for relief.

Reproductive system – Stress is draining on both the body and mind. It’s not unusual to lose sexual desire when under constant stress. While short-term stress can cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesn’t usually last.

Conversely, if the stress continues for a long time, a man’s testosterone levels can commence to drop. This can hinder sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase the risk of infection for male reproductive organs such as the prostate and testes.

For females, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful menstrual periods. Chronic stress can additionally increase the physical symptoms of menopause.

Immune system – Stress fires up the immune system, which can be a benefit for immediate situations. This stimulation can help avoid infections and heal wounds. But over a period of time, stress hormones will weaken the immune system and reduce the body’s response to foreign invaders. Individuals under chronic stress are more vulnerable to viral illnesses such as the flu and the common cold, in addition to other infections. Stress can also increase the time it takes to recuperate from an illness or injury.

How to Manage Stress

The goal of stress management isn’t to remove it completely. Because it’s not only impossible but as mentioned, stress can be healthy in some situations.

To manage stress, first, one would have to identify the things that cause the stress — or the triggers. Then figure out which of these things can be avoided. Then, find ways to cope with those negative stressors that can’t be avoided. Sometimes a change in attitude towards something or a situation is helpful.

Over time, managing stress levels may assist with lowering the risk of stress-related diseases. And it can help one feel better on a day to day basis, also.

Here are some fundamental ways to start managing stress:Stress: The Facts - How to Manage Stress

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Get ample sleep – aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • Get exercise regularly
  • Minimize the use of caffeine and alcohol
  • Stay socially active so you can receive and give support
  • Take time for rest and relaxation, or self-care
  • Gain knowledge of meditation techniques such as deep breathing

If you’re not having an issue with chronic or episodic acute stress and if you want to keep the effects of everyday stress to a minimum naturally, hemp oil may be worth a try. For more on hemp oil, read the article, All about Hemp Oil on this website.

However, if you can’t manage your stress, or if it’s accompanied by anxiety or depression, see your physician as soon as possible. These conditions can be managed with treatment, as long as you get help. You might also think about conferring with a therapist or other mental health professional. Learn about stress management tips.

Any questions, comments, or concerns can be left below. You will receive a response.

Good Health!!