Today, with longer work hours, larger workloads, financial worries, and overextended calendars, Americans are facing stress on a daily basis. In fact, stress response is putting lives in danger. According to Simon Astor, D.O.M., the average life expectancy in the United States has consistently increased, and unfortunately so has the rate of chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
“As American’s live longer lives they are also getting sicker. Physicians and scientists have struggled to unravel the cause of these diseases in an attempt to stop or even reverse their devastating effects,” states Dr. Astor. “The reality; however, is these chronic diseases are a result of so many different factors, too numerous for any one treatment to be effective. The combination of lifestyle, environment, genetics, and emotional well-being have all been lumped together under the term “stress” to try to bring order to this overwhelming problem,” he adds
Stress, or more accurately, the body’s response to it, is a necessary act when a person faces stressful or dangerous situations. The brain signals the release of stress hormones into the body. These hormones are essential to prepare the body to either fight or escape the danger. Concentration becomes more focused, reaction times become quicker, and strength and agility increase. Then, when the danger has passed, the hormones dissipate and body functions return to normal. This whole process of the body’s response to a stressful situation is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response.
R.C. Eng’s Alcohol and Other Drugs: Self Responsibility states when brain chemicals are elicited by the “fight or flight” response, they in turn, cause the following: an acceleration of the heart rate; a dilation of coronary arteries, bronchial tubes, and the pupils; an increase in the force of heart contractions, the rate of metabolism, level of anxiety, gastrointestinal motility, and the rate and depth of respiration; and a decrease in fatigue and salivation.
Stress becomes a problem when a person is in a constant state of stress and the body is forced to function with a high level of stress hormones pumping through the bloodstream. This constant high level of stress hormones causes dangerous, even deadly, effects on the body. The physical problems related to chronic stress include the lowering of the immune system response, chronic muscle tension, and increased blood pressure. These problems can eventually lead to illnesses such as heart attacks, kidney disease, and cancer. Other health problems that may be caused by stress are diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, sphincter or Oddi spasms, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, colds and sinus infections, vaginal yeast infections, bladder infections, fiber myalgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, hyperventilation, asthma, headaches, and migraines.
For more of Live Life, order your copy of the August/September issue here.