Stress and immune function
Modernistic medication has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship of mind and body. A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives, and even heart disease, are linked to the effects of emotional stress.
Notwithstanding the challenges, experts are actively studying the relationship between stress and immune function.
Stress is hard to define. What might appear to be a stressful situation for one person is not for another. When people are exposed to situations they regard as stressful, it is hard for them to measure how much stress they feel, and difficult for the scientist to know if a person’s subjective impression of the amount of stress is accurate.
The expert could only measure things that may reflect stress, for example, the number of times the heart beats each minute, but such measures also may reflect other factors.
Most specialists studying the relationship of stress and immune function, however, do not study a sudden, short-lived stressor; rather, they try to study more constant and frequent stressors known as chronic stress, for instance that caused by relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, or sustained challenges to perform well at one’s work.
Most specialists are investigating if ongoing stress takes a toll on the immune system.
However, it is difficult to perform what scientists call controlled experiments in people. In a controlled experiment, the scientist could change one and only one factor, such as the amount of a particular chemical, and then measure the effect of that change on some other measurable phenomenon, for example the number of antibodies produced by a particular type of immune system cell when it is exposed to the chemical.
In a living pet, and particularly in a person, that kind of control is just not possible, because there are so many other things happening to the animal or person at the time that measures are being taken.
Despite these unavoidable complications in measuring the relationship of stress to immunity, scientists are making development.
Getting cold give you a weak immune system?
Every mother tells wear a jacket or you’ll catch a cold. Is she correct? Apparently not, exposure to moderately cold temperatures doesn’t increase your susceptibility to infection.
There are two reasons why winter is cold and flu season. In the winter, people spend more time indoors, in closer contact with other people who can pass on their germs. Also, the influenza virus lingers airborne longer when air is cold and less humid.
However, researchers stay interested in this question in different populations. Some experiments with mice suggest that cold exposure might reduce the ability to cope with infection. But what about humans?
Researchers have dunked people in cold water and made others sit nude in subfreezing temperatures.
They’ve studied people who lived in Antarctica and those on expeditions in the Canadian Rockies. The results have been mixed.
For instance, researchers documented an increase in upper respiratory infections in competitive cross-country skiers who exercise vigorously in the cold, but if these contaminations are because of the cold or other factors — for example, the intense exercise or the dryness of the air — is not understood.
Society of Canadian specialists that have reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and carried some of its own study concludes that there’s no need to fret about mild cold exposure — it has no harmful effect on the human immune system.
If you bundle up when it’s cold outside? The explanation is yes if you’re uncomfortable, or if you will be outdoors for an extended period where such problems as frostbite and hypothermia are a risk. But don’t bother immunity.