The Dangerous Effects of Stress

Recognized every April, stress awareness is again a focal point this month. With such profound effect on the body, healthcare professionals across the country hope to spread awareness and also share some ways to better manage stress and overall well-being.

Everyone encounters stress from time to time, as it is a natural physical and mental reaction to experiences. While there are some beneficial elements to stress, if stress levels last longer than necessary, the toll it takes on your body can be detrimental. Healthline shared just how much impact lasting elevated levels stress has on your body’s systems.

Central nervous and endocrine systems

  • When stressing, the brain releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that increase your heartrate, sending blood to areas of need such as muscles, heart, and other organs.
  • If the stressor doesn’t go away it can severely affect the nervous system and develop behaviors such as overeating, alcohol and/or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.

 Respiratory and cardiovascular systems 

  • During stress episodes, you breathe faster to distribute oxygen blood through your body more quickly. However, with conditions like asthma or emphysema, stress makes it even harder to breath.
  • Stress also raises blood pressure which leaves you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Digestive system

  • Under stress, your body produces more glucose to give your body more energy, however, too much can result in an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Stress also affects your digestive system by increasing your chance of heartburn and acid reflux due to increased stomach acid. In addition, since stress affects how food moves through your body, you may also experience diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.

Muscular system

  • Muscles tense up when stressed in order to protect themselves from injury.
  • If the muscles never get a chance to relax, tight muscles can cause headaches as well as back and shoulder pain and other long-term body aches.

Reproductive system

  • For men, chronic stress affects sperm production and may lead to impotence and risk of infection in the prostate and testes.
  • For women, this stress can lead to irregular, heavier, and more painful menstrual cycles, or amplify the symptoms of menopause.

Immune system

  • Chronic stress leaves you more susceptible to illnesses influenza and the common cold, while prolonging your recovery time from illness or injury.


Here’s another detailed look of where stress affects the body.


Stress isn’t just a fast heartbeat, headache or sweaty palms. Over time it can severely impact many systems throughout your body. It’s important to think about how you identify and manage your stress. If you’re suffering from long-term stress, please visit your doctor so you can develop the best strategy for tackling your stress and preserving your health.

Managing the Allergens

The change of weather also leads to added allergen substances in the environment – welcome to allergy season. Itchy eyes, runny noses, and sore throat are only some of the inconveniences that encompass this season. Trying to find the right medications to relieve your symptoms can also be an exhausting task.  However, if you are averse to medications, you’re not out of luck, as there are many natural ways to defeat allergies.

While medications can help you once allergy symptoms strike, natural remedies may present ways to avoid these attacks all together. WebMD shared the following as the top natural ways to defeat allergies:

  1. Shut Out Breezes
    • On days when the pollen count is high, closing your windows keeps the indoor air as pollen-free as possible.
  2. Wash Up
    • Washing up consistently during this period can help prevent the spread of outdoor allergen particles that may latch onto your hair, skin, clothes, shoes, etc.
  3. Wear a Mask
    • Available at many drug stores, masks block about 95% of particles like pollen and other small allergens from entering your airways.
  4. Dietary Changes
    • Eating fruits and vegetables have been related to fewer allergy symptoms. Meanwhile, consuming cayenne pepper, hot ginger, fenugreek, along with onions and garlic can also un-stuff your nose.
  5. Nasal Rinses
    • These rinses clear dust, pollen, and other bacteria, while thinning mucus and lessening postnasal drip.
  6. Drink More
    • Drinking more water can offer relief by thinning the mucus in the nasal passages.
  7. Get Steamy
    • Whether from hot fluids like soup or tea, or from hot towels or showers, steam can also un-stuff nasal passages.
  8. Go Natural
    • Using natural cleaners in your home are the best ways to avoid indoor allergens. Ingredients like vinegar and baking soda are less likely to trigger symptoms.
  9. Acupuncture
    • Studies have shown this remedy aids in sneezing, runny nose, and puffy eyes.
  10. Avoid Cigarette Smoke
    • Fumes like cigarette smoke or others from aerosol sprays or wood-burning fireplaces for example, can quickly trigger stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes.

While these natural remedies are great to incorporate into your everyday life, the most important one is knowing your triggers. Knowing what the problem is makes for the best prevention, and your doctor will be best suited to help with your allergies. Through diagnosis or with referrals to an allergist, your partnership with your doctor can make allergy season much more enjoyable.

Optimizing Bone Health: Decrease Risk of Low Bone Density and Fractures

Prevention is key for bone health – as with many health issues. Bone density peaks around age 30.  For most people after that, it steadily decreases with age. This even starts in the womb. Mom’s calcium and vitamin D levels influence bone density later in life, as does breastfeeding.  During childhood and young adulthood building a “bone bank” through adequate nutrition and weight bearing exercise is key to developing maximum peak bone density.  But, it’s never too late to start with healthy changes.  Maintaining good bone health can decrease the rate of bone loss and maintain quality of the bones, and there are many factors that play a role in this.


Nutrition plays a big role in bone health. Calcium is often the first thing people think about, and though calcium is important it can be overdone. Too much calcium, especially if it is not balanced with magnesium and vitamin K can build up on artery walls.  Also, don’t rely on dairy – there is minimal link between dairy and bone health.
Try the foods in this list from the University of Wisconsin to promote bone health instead.

Onion family Fennel Parsley
Arugula French beans Pomegranate
Broccoli Garlic Prunes
Celeriac Leeks Red Cabbage
Chinese cabbage Lettuce Turmeric
Cucumbers Mushrooms Wild garlic
Dill Oranges & other citrus Soy (whole soy foods)

Too much of certain things can have a negative impact on your bones as well – so keep it to less than one alcoholic drink per day, and minimize cola and caffeine (except for tea) and don’t take more than 3000 iu of vitamin A.  Limit animal protein intake as well. The theory is that animal protein causes our blood to be slightly acidic, and to neutralize this effect our body steals calcium out of the bones.  Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. A high vegetable to animal diet ratio seems to be protective against bone loss.

Vitamins and Minerals

Make sure you get adequate vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium properly. Living in this area of the Northeast, we’re unable to make enough through the sunlight. Talk to your doctor about your levels and supplements.
Vitamin K, an important balance with calcium, is required for the activation of the hormone that tells our body to build bone.  Consider supplementing with vitamin K2 45-100mcg.  Magnesium helps keep the bones flexible. Try taking 400-800mg before bed. Talk to your doctor first if you are on blood thinners or if your magnesium dosage causes loose stools. Vitamin C, B vitamins, Potassium, and Zinc are all likely to be important as well.


Benefits of exercise are seen at all age groups. Walking, other weight bearing exercise, and resistance training are all helpful. Vigorous walking at more than 3.8 miles per hour shows better benefit.


Another reason to quit! Smoking increases fracture risk by as much as 40% compared to non-smokers.

Preventing Falls

The ultimate goal of prevention of bone density treatment is to avoid fractures, so preventing falls is a very important aspect of bone health. Exercise decreases fall risk and it maintains strength and coordination. Tai chi has been shown to reduce falls by improving balance.
Try these other tips from the Mayo Clinic to also help prevent falls:

1.  Talk to your doctor about your medications – some medications could cause dizziness
2.  Wear sensible shoes – avoid floppy slippers or shoes
3.  Remove tripping hazards – remove throw rugs that slip or stick up
4.  Make sure areas are well lit – use night lights
5.  Use assistive devices when necessary – like grab bars

Getting Your Bone Density Checked

Overall women have a higher risk of developing problems with low bone density because they have a lower peak bone density. Men with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications may be at higher risk too. Getting your bone mineral density checked is recommended if you are a woman over 65 years of age, or have the same fracture risk as a woman over 65.  You can calculate your fracture risk using this tool.

Bone density is checked with a test called a DEXA scan. Bone density in the hip and lower spine are the areas of the body that are X-rayed and then compared to a healthy 30-year-old of the same sex and given a score, called at T score. The more negative the number, the less dense the bones.  Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a T-score lower than -2.5.

Medication might be right for you if you have osteoporosis.  Talk to your doctor about this or any questions you have about your bone health or getting your bone density tested with a DEXA scan.

Why Environmental Health Matters

Each first full week of April celebrates National Public Health Week. The goals of this week are to identify the issues that impact poor health and disease risks for individuals and communities and to start conversations and develop strategies that help build a healthier nation. Each day of the week focuses on a different aspect of public health, and our focus is Environmental Health.

Why is environmental health important? According to Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) the environment plays a key role to the length and quality of your life. Poor environmental health is not only costly, but very hazardous. Per the ODPHP, 23% of all deaths (26% among children 5 years old or younger) are caused by preventable environmental factors. Therefore, to further understand it’s importance, below are some environmental factors that can affect your health.

  • Outdoor Air Quality
    • Poor air quality can lead to many issues: cancer, respiratory/cardiovascular system damage, and premature death.
  • Surface and Ground Water
    • Minimizing your exposure to contaminated water sources is important to your health as contaminated drinking and recreational waters from chemicals or infectious agents can cause serious illness.
  • Hazardous Substances
    • Substances like nitrogen dioxide from gas cookers or the removal of hazardous waste can filter into your water and air supplies, which when absorbed can be a dangerous health risk (especially for children).
  • Climate
    • Climate can affect air, food, water, disease risk, and mental health. It can increase asthma events and heat-related deaths, but can also impact sea level and cause natural disasters – which may spread diseases and also cause damage to your mental health during recovery periods.
  • Homes and Communities
    • With much time spent either at home, work, or school, your health can be impacted by the space you occupy: Indoor air pollution, inadequate heating or sanitation, or lead-based paint hazards can affect your health.

As you see there are plenty of environmental factors that can impact your health, but the Health Department at the University of Minnesota shared few suggestions on how to live a more sustainable life.

  1. Limit the use of toxic substances and unknown chemicals
  2. Buy organic, fair-trade products
  3. Carpool, bike, or use public transportation to prevent further air pollution
  4. Recycle

While there’s a need for long term sustainability to optimize public health, it’s important to take the initiative to ensure you’re living in a healthy environment. Check your homes, check the products you buy, but most important check in with your doctor to make sure you’re void of any disease risks.