When in a mess, blame stress

VITAL SIGNS

health

Stress has become an unavoidable part of our lives. Stress, defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances, can affect our mind, body and result in anxiety, nervousness and more. Several studies have shown why and how stress could take a toll on one’s mental state and body. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adrenaline shoots up during acute stress thereby causing faster breathing and diverting oxygen to the muscles. Interestingly, not just the body and mind, excessive stress is found to affect human sensory processing that includes the sense organs like eyes, ears, skin, nose and tongue.

Affects the eyes

In cases of severe stress and anxiety, high levels of adrenaline in the body can exert pressure on the eyes and cause blurred vision. Eye strain is a regular aspect among those suffering from long-term anxiety. Stress can cause acute headaches and vision impairment as well. New research has shown how persistent stress increases the level of cortisol hormone in the human body and adversely affects the vascular and sympathetic nervous system, hurts the brain and the eyes and can cause glaucoma and optic neuropathy.

Hurts the skin

Human skin becomes more sensitive and reactive to a chemical hormone that is triggered in the human body by stress. Stress can worsen existing skin problems and also make it difficult for the skin to heal. Those with oily skin are more prone to acne and other skin issues as stress increases the level of cortisol that enhance oil production in the skin glands. Stress can aggravate several skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea and eczema. It can result in hives and other skin rashes and result in a flare-up of fever blisters.

Can aggravate smelling disorders

Excessive production of the hormone cortisol in the human body can interfere in the adequate functioning of the olfactory system that helps the human body in the act of smelling. This hormonal disturbance caused due to hypertension can lead to hyposmia when there is a reduced ability to detect an odour and anosmia when an individual loses the ability to detect odour. Stress is also responsible for reducing the ability of the taste buds to detect certain compounds, especially the sweet and bitter compounds.

Adequate rest, healthy food habits, meditation and stress relief exercises can help an individual to relax and keep stress-related problems at bay.

(The author is consultant
psychiatrist, Aster CMI Hospital)

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