Stress Hijacks Immune System to Trigger Diseases

Our immune system is designed to guard our body and protect it against bacteria and other threats. However, in some cases it seems to hurt us too. Besides autoimmune diseases, there is a newly-discovered mechanism that explains why those under psychological stress are prone to illnesses.

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Stress-induced illnesses are common. Many people have experienced a kind of allergy, irritable bowel syndrome, or something even less pleasant that was a result of stress. Have you ever wondered how it works? It appears that it is the immune system which causes such problems.

A team working at the Michigan State University has revealed that stress-induced illnesses are triggered by histamines, which are released by immune cells, or immune cells of a special type, to be exact.

When a person is affected by stress, special receptors that called CRF1 and located on special mast cells react to it. These mast cells are a part of a human immune system that is designed to helping the body organize the process of getting rid of unwanted substances, or allergens, it encounters. When pollen or some other allergen enters the body using mouth, eyes or some other gates, mast cells deploy histamines to eliminate the invaders. This process manifests itself in such symptoms as inflammation, redness of eyes, and other things like runny nose. Such a reaction can contribute to the development of lupus, IBS, asthma or a range of other illnesses.

The investigators used mice to determine the role of these curious CRF1 receptors in this mechanism. They saw that those mice that lacked the receptor were less likely to experience a disease, and the difference between them and control mice with the receptor was significant: the mice deprived of CRF1 suffered from stress-related diseases way less often (the difference made up sixty-three percent).

The major question that remains unanswered is how these receptors determine whether the person is under stress or not. This elusive mechanism is to become the object of the next research.

What can I do to try to prevent stress-related illness?

The newly-discovered mechanism can help develop new methods of illness prevention, but currently there are no such pills. However, there are several techniques which can help you avoid stress-related disease.

  • Learn how to use stress management techniques. Realizing what’s really important and what is not can help you. If you do not regard any routine situation as stressful, you are less likely to experience its consequences.
  • Praying is a wonderful option, as managing stress using prayers has long been a way out for many. Besides, those who have their passions under control are not affected by stress to the extent businessmen and other people busy with money-making and other similar things are. Money and career are not the cornerstone of life, so why experiencing so much stress only to buy another advanced smartphone or a groovy dress?
  • Obesity is also associated with stress, so following a healthy diet is another thing you can do to avoid stress and its consequences. The same is true of lack of sleep. Make sure to get your 7-hours-a-day regularly.

You cannot make your life stress-free. There will always be problems. The solution stress management offers is to change your attitude towards things. It does not mean that you should lose interest in everything – it’s just that reevaluation can sometimes benefit you.

If you are already under stress, you can help your body shift back into equilibrium by relaxation, sleeping properly and eating healthy food. The body handles stress using hormones, and their production is also affected by what you do with your body.

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