Does it seem like we hear more about autoimmune diseases today than we did 10 or 20 years ago? It also appears that more and more people are being diagnosed each year, along with new autoimmune conditions being discovered, too. Statistics from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association now estimate that nearly 50 million people (roughly 20 percent of the population) are living with an autoimmune disease in this country alone. But, why is there more information, talk and awareness about autoimmune disease? Some researchers believe it is because we are stressed out more than ever before.
But, What Does Stress Have to Do with It?
Stress is almost a natural part of our daily existence. Work, traffic and seemingly never-ending to-do lists can cause stress to increase. But when tension builds up, it has very negative effects on your body.
Just some of the side effects of stress include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Jaw clenching and tooth grinding
- Dry mouth
- Lowered immune response, frequent infections and high levels of inflammation
- Heartburn, nausea and stomach pain, as well as digestive issues
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and chest pain
- Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
- Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
- Anxiety and depression
Stress can increase blood pressure, leaving sufferers at risk of heart attack or stroke, too.
When you encounter a stressor, your body kicks into "fight or flight" mode. When this happens, inflammation increases. If you are stressed out consistently, your inflammation levels stay high for long periods.
Chronic inflammation may be the cause of many different autoimmune conditions. Two conditions in particular thought to be triggered by stress include rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Stress has also been linked to an increase in autoimmune disease symptom flares.
How to Reduce Risk
One way to reduce your risk of developing an autoimmune disease is to reduce your stress. Easier said than done, right? While it might seem like lip service, it's really not. It's something serious that you should stop and consider. We suggest that you try self-care steps to reduce your stress, such as a hobby, exercise or yoga. Other ways people work to reduce stress is through meditation, relaxing music and focusing on nasal breathing.
Medical researchers are also working on new ways to reduce chronic stress, including the stimulation of the parasympathetic nerves found in the lower lungs. Parasympathetic nerves help to trigger hormones to help you relax.
If you're living with an autoimmune condition, you may want to explore the benefits of stress-relieving exercises to minimize flares. Additionally, many individuals living with autoimmune diseases have seen improvements in their condition through stem cell therapy. Learn how stem cell therapy may help you by calling 214-256-1462 to schedule a consultation today.