The Number One Reason Why Caregivers Get Sick

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com editor

Stress and worrying can make you physically sick. Stress is a pressure cooker: Left un-attended it will boil over. Stress and worry are proven to affect your physical health and may even shorten your lifespan.

Severe, chronic stress takes a physical toll and can damage your body in many ways – everything from your heart to your immune system. Because it negatively impacts so many health conditions, caregiver stress could even shorten your lifespan. Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache or your upset stomach. But the culprit could be stress.

How does stress affect the body?

Our bodies have a natural “stress alarm system” that warns us and responds to perceived danger and threats.

According to the National Institutes on Health (NIH), when you encounter perceived threats, your hypothalamus (a region at the base of your brain) sets off an alarm system in your body, Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located near your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, NIH says.

Related:
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The Number One Reason Why Caregivers Get Sick originally appeared on AgingCare.com

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances the brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol seems to “tune down” the immune system and make it less able to fight infection, as well as suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

When the stressors of your life are always present, leaving you constantly feeling stressed, tense, nervous or on edge, your stress-response system is on overload. The long-term activation of the stress-response system can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

If your mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress in your life, you may face serious health problems. Chronic emotional stress can affect virtually every organ system in negative ways, according to NIH. Prolonged stress has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including:

  • Weakening of the immune system, making you more likely to have colds or other infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Upset stomach, ulcers and acid reflux
  • Anxiety
  • Increased rapid heart beat and heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Cardio-vascular problems
  • Increase in blood sugar levels
  • Irritable bowel problems
  • Backaches
  • Tension headaches or migraines
  • Sleep problems
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Respiratory problems and heavy breathing
  • Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema

If stress isn’t controlled or released from the body, its going to manifest in some form physically. Finding ways to reduce stress will help lessen the long-term emotional and physical toll that tension takes on your body. By recognizing your warning signs and taking steps to reduce the stress in your life, you will also lead a healthier life, because oftentimes it’s the stress in your life that’s making you sick.

Related:
Are You Healthier Than a 100-Year-Old?
At-Home Exercise: Turn Housework Into a Workout
Just Listen! Your Body is Speaking to You

The Number One Reason Why Caregivers Get Sick originally appeared on AgingCare.com

33 comments

Azaima A.
Azaima A.2 years ago

makes sense

Shanti S.
S S.3 years ago

Thank you.

Heather M
Heather Marv4 years ago

Maybe a follow up article on how to de-stress

ReElectBarack Obama
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare5 years ago

Stay strong, caretakers; we support you! :)

Deborah Kampfer
Deborah Vitek5 years ago

I have to comment on this and say that caregivers in the U.S. are definitely in this place, but not so much in other countries and the problem in the U.S. is ridiculous health insurance.

My husband slowly died over 13 years from chronic progressive MS. Part of what my job was, was to argue with the insurance company to try to get things paid. They ALWAYS denied every claim and I had to appeal to get anything paid. At one point I was so stressed and my dearest aunt was dying and I wanted to be with her. I asked if I could have home care for four days and I was told no "we all have our crosses to bear". I will never forget that....the claim's admin person could just as well have smacked me in the face!

Then we moved to Canada. We were not part of their health care system for a while, but still, it was amazing how much help was available for a reasonable amount. I could have a "day care" person with my husband for 25.00 an hour as opposed to 54.00 in the states!

The U.S. is crumbling and a large reason is the terrible health care system. Wake up, look around and demand change.

Nancy G.
Nancy G.5 years ago

Great information! Thank you so much for sharing this.

Caring for my kids, mom and dad has been really stressing me out.

Renato G.

Tks for sharing stress issues right now ....

Rufaida Shamead
Rufaida Shamead5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Joy Mcronald

Very interesting..Thank you, it's hard for most of us not to stress, easy to say "Don't stress" but hard not to...