How to recognize signs of Stress

Stress Relief

Stress Relief

(BlackDoctor.org) — We all know that stress takes a toll on your mind and your body. It shakes up your nerves, it puts you on edge and can cause unwanted side effects, such as sexual problems, insomnia, even hair loss.

When most of us think of the physical effects of stress, our minds jump to common complaints like headaches and upset stomachs. Stress, however, can influence many aspects of physical and mental health, ranging from teeth and skin to memory and concentration skills — even how well we sleep. The good news is while these problems may seem serious, stress relief can make real improvements on your overall health and well-being.

Hair Loss

Some amount of hair loss is normal — strands fall out over time and get replaced by new ones. However, when you’re under physical or emotional stress, the normal shedding of 100 or so hairs a day can speed up to the point where half to three-quarters of your hair can fall out. Known as telogen effluvium, this diffuse and often stress-induced hair loss may not happen right away. In fact, it may take weeks or months after the stressful event for the hair to actually shed. Fortunately, after six to eight months, this type of hair loss often improves.

Forgetfulness

We all have our moments of not being able to find our car keys, but research shows that the more stress we are under, the more frequent these mental lapses may become. In fact, not only can long-term stress (over a period of weeks or months) disrupt communication between brain cells, but even several hours of acute stress can affect the brain’s ability to store information and create solid memories. For many people, frequent bouts of forgetfulness can lead to fears about Alzheimer’s disease. But before jumping to conclusions, take a step back and consider whether any chronic stress in your life may be playing a role in memory issues.

Dental Health

Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups — most of us are well-versed in what it takes to keep our teeth healthy. But how many of us realize that the effects of stress can impact dental health? During the day and even while sleeping, people under stress may clench their teeth or grind them back and forth against one another. This action, called bruxism, can not only wear down and damage your teeth, but may also cause temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ), leading to severe jaw and neck pain.

Skin Problems

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, our internal thoughts and feelings can actually affect our external appearance. This is particularly true when it comes to stress. One of the effects of stress is skin that’s more sensitive to irritants. Stress can worsen pre-existing conditions including rosacea, psoriasis, and acne, as well as dehydrate the skin, permitting allergens, bacteria, and pollutants to irritate it.

Substance Abuse

For individuals struggling with alcohol or drugs, stress can wreak havoc on efforts to remain substance-free. Even for people who have abstained for a long time, stress can play a significant role in sudden relapses. Interestingly, not only can stress in adulthood contribute to substance abuse, but experiencing a severe psychosocial stressor during childhood can also increase your risk for drug or alcohol abuse as an adult.

Sexual Problems

The effects of stress can extend to the bedroom. Most men may experience erectile dysfunction from time to time, but when it happens frequently, its underlying cause should be investigated. Causes of erectile dysfunction can include diabetes, high blood pressure, side effects of certain medications, and chronic stress. Stress can also contribute to a loss of sexual desire in both women and men.

Concentration

Bad news for stressed-out students cramming for exams — it turns out that being under pressure can affect how well our brains work. Specifically, one small study showed that medical students studying for board exams had more trouble focusing their attention than others who were not stressed. The good news? A month after the stressful period was over, the stressed group’s mental skills returned to normal.

Reduced Immunity

Excessive stress and anxiety can lead to reduced immunity and an increased chance of getting sick. This link between stress and the body’s ability to fight disease may go all the way back to childhood. Researchers have found that adolescents who were abused or experienced other, intensely stressful situations as children were less able to ward off certain infections even years later. It’s crucial to keep daily stress under control as much as possible to offset past stress and encourage good health in the present.

Insomnia

Few things are as frustrating as lying awake in bed, unable to sleep. While insomnia can stem from a variety of sources, one major one to consider is stress. Stress can cause a number of sleep-related issues including trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and poor-quality sleep. Try to get stress relief through regular exercise, focusing on relaxing more, and spending time with loved ones.
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Spices can help ease Arthritis Pain

Spices can help ease Arthritis Pain

Spices can help ease Arthritis Pain

(BlackDoctor.org) — In your search for relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, you might hear or read about spices and dietary supplements that are said to help ease symptoms.

But before you head to your kitchen, or the grocery store, you need to find out which ones will fit best into your rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health, just about all supplements have the potential to interfere with your regular medications or cause other unwanted side effects, such as an allergic reaction, so learning more about them and talking with your doctor beforehand is essential.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Supplements

A variety of complementary and alternative claim to be helpful for arthritis. Some of the most commonly known supplements include:

Borage oil comes from a plant and contains omega-6 fatty acids, which are thought to offer people with rheumatoid arthritis some relief from pain and joint stiffness. According to NCCAM, however, results of studies involving borage oil for rheumatoid arthritis have not been conclusive. Borage oil and other oils that contain omega-6 fatty acids, such as evening primrose oil, can increase bleeding and bruising. NCCAM also warns that borage oil is made with an additive that may increase liver damage. Also, the appropriate dose of borage oil varies with each individual, so discuss what is appropriate for you with your rheumatologist.

Capsaicin cream is numbing agent that comes from cayenne peppers. The cream is rubbed onto joints that are sore and inflamed. Studies suggest that this cream is modestly effective in reducing joint pain if it is used daily. Side effects can include a burning sensation after application.

Cod liver oil, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, is the only dietary supplement that has been strongly associated with relieving symptoms such as inflammation and pain among people with rheumatoid arthritis. “It has results similar to non-steroidal drugs like ibuprofen and can be used safely,” says Robert W. Hoffman, DO, professor and chief of the division of rheumatology and immunology in the department of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It also has cardiovascular protective benefits.”

The risks of cod liver oil include increased bleeding and bruising and possible exposure to mercury from the original codfish. Research has shown 10 grams of cod liver oil daily to have a positive effect on joint pain, but there are no official recommendations about how much you should take.

Flaxseed oil, which comes from ground flax seeds, also contains omega-3 fatty acids. This oil is available in gel capsules and as in oil form for salad dressings or foods, but it must be kept refrigerated. Adults can take about 3,000 milligrams a day. It is available at pharmacies, health food stores, and some grocery stores.

Ginger is a spice that comes from the root of the ginger plant. It can be ground up to a powder, used fresh, boiled as a tea, or crystallized. Ginger has been used in Ayurvedic medicine (ancient medical practices native to India) for hundreds of years to fight inflammation. Data from scientific studies is scarce and inconclusive, but at least one study has shown ginger to help relieve some of the pain and swelling experienced by people with RA. Ginger can be bought at grocery stores as a spice, tea, crystallized candy, or a fresh root. It is available in capsule form as well. It can be used daily, but you should not use more than four grams each day.

Turmeric is a spice that, like ginger, has played a role in ancient Ayurvedic practices as an inflammation fighter. Research into its effectiveness is ongoing. At least one study has shown that taking turmeric daily can help relieve morning stiffness and joint pain. Turmeric is available as a ground spice, in capsules, and as a cream. Curcumin is the active ingredient that addresses inflammation. Taking too much turmeric can cause stomach problems such as ulcers. About 1,200 milligrams a day is what is typically recommended. It can be bought at health food stores and grocery stores.

Rheumatoid Arthritis & A Healthy Diet

Although many supplements are available in pill form, it may be a healthier (and less expensive) to turn to your diet for pain relief.

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is also a diet rich in antioxidants, which also play a role in fighting inflammation. “All RA patients should eat a healthy, balanced diet,” says John M. Stuart, MD, professor of medicine and rheumatology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “There is good evidence that diets rich in antioxidants may have at least modest long-term benefits.”

Before trying any supplements…

If you decide you’re interested in taking supplements, talk to your doctor first about what’s right for you, and be sure to keep them informed after you begin taking the supplements. Remember that unless your doctor says differently, those with rheumatoid arthritis should not stop traditional — and more proven — treatments.

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