Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Your Health Go Well Beyond the Actual Virus
While most people are hyper-focused on the effects that COVID-19 may take on the body, the stress of the ongoing global pandemic is also delivering a host of other health issues. The constant level of stress and anxiety associated with this virus is taking a significant toll on the body in many ways.
During normal times, cortisol levels generally peak in the morning and then drop throughout the day. However, during times of constant stress, cortisol levels may spike and take a significant amount of time to decrease. This spike in cortisol can lead to inflammation in the body, negatively affecting all five of the body's key operating systems.
One of the biggest risk factors in contracting a more severe case of COVID-19 is underlying lung issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 15 million Americans have COPD, putting a large portion of the population at risk of developing a life-threatening case of COVID-19. Too much stress and anxiety can lead to breathing problems, putting COPD sufferers at risk. Likewise, people with asthma and allergy issues are also at a higher risk of developing a severe version of COVID-19.
It is no surprise that too much stress and anxiety will trigger headaches. This is particularly true for people who are prone to developing migraines. The uncertainty of the future in a post-COVID-19 world raises stress levels and leads to a variety of chronic inflammation in the brain. In addition, elevated cortisol levels caused by stress can also interfere with normal sleep patterns and interfere with your mood and emotional well-being.
Too much stress and tension may increase your heart rate and interfere with blood flow. This encourages the release of too much cholesterol and triglycerides into the bloodstream, leading to increased blood pressure levels. While most of the heart issues caused by stress will eventually dissipate, there is always the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events because of the increased tension in the body if it is not properly addressed.
Stress has a direct effect on the condition of your skin. From acne flareups to psoriasis, stress-related skin conditions are on the rise as more people cope with the ongoing anxiety associated with the pandemic. An excessive amount of tension in the body may also activate chronic viral infections of the skin such as herpes and shingles. Dermatologists around the country are also reporting a large increase in the number of people suffering from skin issues related to the use of masks and gloves. Although it is still important to wear this protective equipment, it is good to be aware that it may irritate the skin.
It is understandable that many people are turning to food as a comfort during this time of great stress and uncertainty. For this reason, it is not surprising that there has been an uptick in gut-related conditions as a result of the health crisis. Too much fatty food and alcohol can cause diarrhea, constipation, chronic heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How to Combat the Stress
The good news is that you are not powerless in dealing with this excessive stress. Being mindful of how you nourish your body can go a long way in fighting this battle. Making it a point to get out for daily exercise can also have a powerful effect on your overall physical and mental health. It is also a good idea to be intentional about connecting with others, turning off the news every now and then, and asking for help if you need it. Taking these proactive steps will pay big dividends as you navigate these stressful times.
While health experts do not know how the COVID-19 crisis will develop from this point on, it is clear that the ongoing stress is negatively affecting the body in many ways. An excessive amount of inflammation in the body can lead to diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, asthma, and more. Understanding how detrimental this stress can be to your body and the steps that you can take to control the risks will help you to get through the pandemic with your overall health intact.
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