Articles

Chronic Stress



Since his creation, man has been endowed with a fierce and powerful weapon. One that made him stronger and more lethal within seconds of spotting a dangerous lion or a venomous snake: his pupils would dilate making him see better and look scarier to his opponent, made his cognitive abilities instantaneously improve to make better decisions, and improved his odds of survival when the situation called for it.

This seemingly – too good to be true- weapon is called the stress response, and while it is the reason why the human race survived dinosaurs and other vicious animals that roamed the earth in ancient time, today this too edged sword emerges in daily situations: such as juggling multiple tasks or at the approach of an important deadline, and it has been named the culprit in a spectrum of health diseases caused by its chronic presence.

When the human body spots a threat whether it is an actual tiger or your angry boss dressed in tiger print, the body through the release of certain hormones orchestrates a series of reactions carried out by all the systems.

To begin with, the muscoskeletal system tenses in stressful situations and as the situation passes the muscle tension is relieved. When the stress is chronic however, chronic painful conditions develop and the individual becomes more prone to tension-type headaches and migraines among other types of pain in the shoulder, neck, and head area.

Other systems responsible for tasks related to body’s vitality such as the heart and lungs react negatively to chronic stress. This manifests clearly in individuals with established diseases where asthmatics, for example, experience an increase in the frequency of their asthma attacks. Moreover, since stress causes the heart to beat harder and faster, chronic stress puts individuals at increased risk for hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes.

To add to that, “butterflies in the stomach” experienced upon experiencing stress are only one of the many effects of stress on the gastrointestinal system. Changes in appetite are not uncommon in those suffering from chronic stress, where some avert from food and others divert towards it for comfort, which can cause either malnutrition or obesity if sustained for a long time. Acid reflux and heartburn also result from stress, and are amplified in severity in individuals with established issues.

It is important to mention here that an increase in the consumption of alcohol and tobacco due to stress contributes to increasing the aforementioned negative consequences on all body systems not limited to the ones mentioned in this article. Thus, the need to find ways to cope with stress and prevent it from becoming a daily experience is essential, not only to be able to enjoy life but also to preserve health. Coping mechanisms can take the shape of daily habits such as physical, meditative, and breathing exercises or listening to soft music. When those mechanisms, however, are not effective it is important to seek professional help to prevent stress from developing into an even more serious health problem.


Spread of Zika Virus causes Birth Deformity, Small Head Size

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Zika is a resurgent virus transmitted by mosquitos and was discovered back in 1947 in the Rhesus Monkeys in Uganda. It was then discovered in humans in 1952 in Uganda itself and in New Tanzania. 

Latin American countries are the first to witness the spread of Zika Virus with alarming rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) officials say that between 500, 000 and 1.5 million people were afflicted with the Virus in Brazil. Later on, the Virus spread to more than 20 countries in that region, this triggered health entities to issue ultimatums. They feared that the Virus may be behind the massive increase in the number of new born who suffered from small size heads, an illness that infects the nervous system of new born children of women who were infected with the Virus during pregnancy. This usually leads to different physical and mental disabilities.

The World Health Organization announced that birth defects related to the spread of Zika Virus became an “International Health State of Emergency.” And the priority should be given to protecting pregnant women from harming their own children and the control of the mosquito that is responsible for the transmission of the disease. This has led governments there to advice women to delay their pregnancy plans for this year, aiming to mitigate the percentage of the infected pregnant women. Other countries also issued ultimatums for their people warning pregnant women from travelling to infected areas including Brazil which will host the next Olympics.  
Despite that, deaths as a result of Zika virus infection are rare and most infected cases don’t show any symptoms and consequently most infected people are not aware that they were infected by the disease. Among the symptoms that were observed are: moderate increase in temperature, red eyes, headache, arthritis, muscle aches and skin rash. Most of these symptoms fade away on their own within several days to a week.

Persons infected with Zika Virus should get lots of resting and lots of fluids. They also need common analgesics/antipyretics for the treatment of the pains and fever and if symptoms persist, they should seek medical advice. There is no vaccine for the disease at the current time. 

It is worth mentioning that there were no cases of Zika virus infection reported in any Arabic country, although the mosquito which is responsible for the transmission of the virus is widespread in Egypt, Sudan and Somalia.

The disease, in most cases, spreads by a specific type of mosquito and in two cases only; the infection was transmitted from one person to another through sexual interaction. So, there is no real fear of normal mingling with infected patients and there is no need to quarantine them. 

Prevention of the viral infection depends largely on minimizing the number of mosquitos by limiting their sources (removal of their breading places) along with limiting people’s exposure to them. Travelers should take preventive precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing clothes that cover the entirety of the skin and the head, in addition to using mosquito nets during sleep. They must also use mosquito repellant that contains (DEET) regularly, every few hours and before leaving the hotel.   

Health Tip

Obese women are much more likely to get breast cancer due to the effect of estrogen formation in fat cells. Lose extra weight

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