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4 Ways Stress Can Impact Your Health

There’s no doubt about it – we’re stressed.

In fact, Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world, according to the American Institute of Stress. The current stress level experienced by Americans is 20 percentage points higher than the global average.

A recent study went even further, breaking down our stress by state. Pennsylvania ranks near the middle as the 24th most stressed-out state. However, we jump to the 16th for family-related stress and the 14th for work-related stress.

As your go-to urgent care destination in Greater Philadelphia, we’re here to explain the role that stress can play in your overall health and provide care in a warm, welcoming environment whenever you feel physically unwell.

  1. Stress can affect your GI system

     Stress isn’t good for your gut.

    How many times have you been in a stressful situation and felt sick to your stomach or needed to rush to the bathroom? Of all the major systems in your body affected by stress – and there are many – your gastrointestinal (GI) system is one of the most vulnerable.

    Common GI symptoms caused by stress include:

    • Indigestion
    • Heartburn
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation

    Whenever you experience stress, your GI system (which includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and rectum) reacts accordingly. The gut is the highest area of nerves outside of the brain, and they are closely connected.

    When your brain sends out stress signals, your digestive system can no longer function properly. The same chemicals that trigger digestion to slow down (or stop altogether) also speed up the passage of material through your intestines – creating a perfect storm for GI issues. Over time, some people develop ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other chronic conditions.

  2. Stress can cause high blood pressure

    What about that heart-pounding feeling in your chest, especially in high-pressure situations?

    The hormones released when you’re under stress cause your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow – both of which lead to a steep rise in blood pressure, which increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

    When stress goes away, your blood pressure returns to what it was before. We don’t know if stress causes long-term high blood pressure, but we do know these temporary spikes in blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys over time. They also elevate your risk for heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the United States for the past several decades.

  3. Stress can cause chest pain

    The same surge of hormones that causes a rapid rise in blood pressure and heart rate can also cause chest pain. Stress-related chest pain is often described as a sharp or tight feeling that lasts just a few minutes.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Elevated heart rate
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Shakiness
    • Weakness
    • Excess sweating

    Chest pain can be a sign of many things, from stress to acid reflux to a life-threatening heart attack. Therefore, it should never be taken lightly. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:

    • Chest discomfort that lasts for several minutes
    • Upper body discomfort (arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach)
    • Shortness of breath
  4. Stress can impact women’s health

Many health effects of stress are the same for men and women. However, women are more likely than men to report symptoms of stress, such as headaches or upset stomach. They also experience many unique issues tied to women’s health.

  • Difficulty getting pregnant – Women with higher levels of stress are more likely to have problems getting pregnant. Of course, not being able to get pregnant when you want to is usually an additional source of stress.
  • Pregnancy complications – Stress-related changes in a pregnant woman’s blood pressure and heart rate can affect the heart rate of her developing baby or put her at risk for a serious condition called preeclampsia, which can be fatal for both mother and baby.
  • Menstrual cycle problems – Stress can cause severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, including painful cramping, or irregular periods.

No need to stress – vybe has you covered

We live in a stressful world, but your healthcare doesn’t have to be! vybe urgent care centers are open seven days a week with extended weekday evening hours, making it easy to get fast, convenient care whenever you need it.

All vybe locations have licensed medical professionals with a wide range of healthcare knowledge. We offer many urgent care services, from treating illnesses and injuries to providing lab tests, screenings, vaccinations, and more – all with no appointment necessary.

If stress is taking a toll on your health, the caring team at vybe is here to help. Visit your neighborhood vybe today!