During the months of autumn and winter there is an increased susceptibility for infection, for example for cold viruses. The one who is sitting beside you in the bus sneezes, someone behind you in the subway has a cough. Additionally, the mucous membrane and the airways dehydrate due to the dry heating air.
That’s why we should draw special attention to strengthening our immune system during this time. Here, a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise and sport in fresh air, a well-balanced diet, restful and healthy sleep and especially avoidance of stress play an important role. Different studies found out that chronical stress has a negative influence on our immune defense.
Difference between acute stress and chronic stress
Acute stress: Acute stress is temporary and short term. It stimulates unspecific immune defense and the body prepares itself for quickly healing possible injuries or physical damages. Usually acute stress arises when we are scared, annoyed or feel pressured for a short time (exam situation, for example). The unspecific immune defense is innated and can’t be changed.
The specific immune defense on the other hand has a “learning ability” and for example produces antibodies against pathogens. Under stress, the specific immune defense temporarily works reduced.
Under acute stress the immune system reacts with
- an increase in the amount of white blood cells, phagocytes and natural killer cells
- more active killer cells
- slower production of T-lymphocytes.
Chronic stress: Under chronic stress there is a permanent load. Traumatic experiences, overload in your job, at school or at home or other situations in life that in the long run have a burdensome effect on our psyche.
When you are under permanent stress specific as well as unspecific immune defense are decreased.
Reaction of the immune system:
- Reduction of the immune cells in the blood
- Decreased activity of killer cells
- Slower division of T-lymphocytes.
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