Stress and Immunity



Have you ever noticed that the child in your family spends about a couple of months in the really hot equatorial summer without a hint of the common cold or viral infection? No amount of ice-creams, or iced-water consumed in copious quantities against the protesting howls of the protective mother, seem to cause any harm to the child. The child seems to thrive in these ‘unhealthy’ situations! Let the school season begin, and along with long faces come the prospects of examinations.

A week prior to the examination, you go all protective over the kid, cutting out all unhealthy food and drinks. But, even a whiff of change in the weather seems to lead to sore throats, coughs, colds and fever! If this isn’t stress leading to a breakdown in immunity, what is? The Immune System is designed to ward off disease that gain control over our bodies through infections we imbibe from the air, water or contagion. Defence against Tuberculosis is an example of how our bodies’ immune system works.

Stress’s immediate impact on immune system is to enhance the same, however continuous exposure to stress can lead to symptoms our immune system being down. Next time notice that anyone going through a phase of high stress may show following immunity related problems:-
* Falling sick often (Flu, cold, cough)
* Showing lack of energy and lethargy

Prolonged exposure to stress can cause havoc with our immune system.

Research has shown that when there is an immediate reaction to stress, the immune system may be slightly enhanced. But if the stress reaction persists for hours, then the responses start going into dangerous territory.

Look at the way your body reacts to a stressor: there is a step by step reaction that goes on. Literally. In the very short-term, immunity is enhanced. But if this enhancement continued unabated, the reaction will spill over into the realm of the auto-immune response. Auto-immune response occurs in people when the body starts attacking a part of itself – such as a lung or liver – when it gets the wrong signal that that organ is foreign to the body.