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Stress and the Long-Term Effects on the Body

At Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, our dedicated team prioritizes your physical health and emotional well-being. Part of preventive care is understanding the stresses which impact our patients, the effects on their bodies, and how we can help them manage stress responses. Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal want you well equipped so you function well and love life.

Just what is stress?

Sounds like a really basic question, doesn't it? Intuitively, we all know when we feel stressed. However, what causes it, and what does it do to our overall wellness?

The Cleveland Clinic defines stress as anything which changes bodily function quickly or chronically, over time. A too-long, quick-paced work environment causes stress on your body. So, does a car accident, moving to a new home, or getting married.

While some stress is positive (you need a deadline to accomplish many tasks efficiently), too much can harm our physical and emotional well-being. Instead of strengthening our resolve and ordering our priorities, intense, repeated stress puts the body into "fight or flight" mode continually. In short, we wear down physiologically.

Impacts on the body

Stress touches everything. It triggers the release of many chemicals--hormones--which, for the short-term, help you get through a crisis. Constantly or repeatedly released hormones, such as cortisol, harden arteries, increase blood pressure, upset the stomach and bowel, increase inflammatory processes, and reduce your ability to fight off acute and chronic disease. Research cited by the American Psychological Association demonstrates it.

Examples of how your body responds to stress include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic attacks
  • Chronic fatigue
  • GI pain and bloating
  • Poor absorption of key nutrients
  • Decreased sexual function and libido
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Heart attack, hypertension, and stroke
  • High blood glucose and cholesterol levels

Managing your stress

At Rios Healthcare Associates, Dr. Rios and Dr. Neal recognize the signs of stress in their patients, and they can help. Simple lifestyle modifications can reduce physiological stress. Our Houston, TX, team suggests:

  • No tobacco
  • Limited alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Seven to nine hours of sleep per night
  • Routine exercise
  • Talking it out with a trusted friend, therapist, or pastor

Contact Rios Healthcare Associates

We are here for your ongoing and emergency health needs, including stress management. For a personal consultation with Dr. Tomas Rios or Dr. Nicolin Neal in our Houston, TX, office, call us. We are open seven days a week. Phone (832) 323-9230.