Managing stress is important for anyone, but it is especially important for people with PCD. Whether or not you have PCD, over the long haul, stress can affect your:
- Immune system: Constant stress can make you more likely to get sick more often. For those with PCD, this can compound an already compromised situation.
- Heart: Stress is linked to high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), blood clots, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). It's also linked to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure.
- Muscles: Constant tension from stress can lead to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Stress may make rheumatoid arthritis worse.
- Stomach: If you have stomach problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis, stress can make your symptoms worse. An anecdotal survey of the PCD community in 2010 showed many instances of GERD, bloating and nausea among other indications.
- Reproductive organs: Stress is linked to low fertility, erection problems, problems during pregnancy, and painful menstrual periods.
- Lungs: Oxidative stress plays an important role in the injurious and inflammatory responses in airways diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Skin: Skin problems such as acne and psoriasis are made worse by stress.
There are many ways to reduce stress from relaxation techniques to exercise to learning to say ‘no’. The key is to find the ways that work for you.
1 Sadock BJ, Sadock VA (2007). Psychological factors affecting physical conditions section of Psychosomatic medicine. In Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry, 10th ed., pp. 813-828. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.