Our unique genetics can lead us to be more susceptible to variations in how our immune system functions. For some, that means being more likely to have allergies, or autoimmunity, or immune deficiencies. But what is important to know is that our genetic tendencies are turned on by stress. Once the body recovers from stress, you must learn to manage your stress in order to keep your immune working properly.
What is stress
It’s a reaction that occurs when one perceives a threat or a major challenge, whether real or perceived. This reaction triggers hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine to surge throughout the body. These chemical hormones set off your fight-or-flight response, to better fight the stressor or run away from it. Typically, after these response occurs, your body relaxes, but that elevated cortisol level can remain up to two days. Having chronic illness, pain and physical limitations can also cause a stress response. Elevated cortisol causes inflammation, therefore constant stress can have negative effects on your long-term health.
How does inflammation affect our immune system?
Inflammation is a process by which the body's white blood cells and the substances they produce protect us from bacterial and viral infections. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body's white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body, but some of these chemicals can leak into the tissues, resulting in swelling and pain.
A situation can occur when the immune system triggers an inflammatory response without any foreign invaders, but instead attacks the body's own tissues. This is what causes autoimmune disease.
Some Examples of Stress and Immune-Related Health Issues
Students who are stressed over maintaining their grades or a looming test tend to have decreased immune function and increased infections.
Nurses who work night shifts are more likely to develop cancer.
Adults who experience consistent stress in their lives are more likely to develop autoimmune conditions. This goes for those Type A individuals also.
When you have an imbalanced immune response, you are susceptible to viral infections (such as EBV and HPV), or allergic reactions and histamine intolerance, or even autoimmune disease.
Stress elevates cortisol levels, that causes inflammation, that decreases the immune function