Alexandra Nguyen is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism at Loyola Marymount University. From a young age, she has had a passion for writing, which later developed into focusing on how her words can make an impact on the world. The world of healthcare was exposed to her through her volunteer work at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto. Working side-by-side with patients and doctors, this role gave her a glimpse into public health. Alexandra combines her passions and experiences writing for Today’s Patient to educate society on lesser-known topics, especially those affecting young adults.
Last month was National Stress Awareness Month, a period of time dedicated to recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional effects induced by stress. Stress takes on many forms, whether it be panic attacks, fatigue, difficulty breathing, upon many others, and the repercussions can harm the overall well-being of individuals. It is not only a time to acknowledge and understand stress but to also educate people on the ways in which stress can be dealt with. Being a topic that has only recently begun to be more widely talked about, there is still a lot of crucial information that is not always publicly known. Stress is not something that should be taken lightly but is something that can lead to harmful health effects, especially if not treated.
Acute Stress Versus Chronic Stress:
Acute stress is having stress-inducing feelings or thoughts that last for less than a month. Meanwhile, chronic stress is persistent and spans over a long period of time.
When I Am Stressed, Who Can I Turn to?
You can turn to anyone. Whether it be a friend, family member, doctor, teacher, or therapist almost every person has felt the effects of stress in their life. Although it may feel like no one will care or listen, there are many people there to support you.
How Do I Know if I Need Treatment?
First off, there are many ways in which stress can be treated, both small-scale and big-scale. To know if you need to treat your stress can be identified by potential symptoms: feeling irritable, depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or uninterested. Feeling any of these or a combination of them can be a sign that stress is starting to affect your health and treatment will help to relieve yourself of the stress and its symptoms. Thus, identifying the cause and the severity of the stress are two important steps to take when seeking treatment.
Seeking Professional Help
Informing your doctor or going to therapy are two ways that professionals can help with stress. When stress grows and is not managed, professional help is a way to identify the stressors and learn coping mechanisms.
Everyday Things That Help Alleviate Stress
There are things that can be incorporated into daily life that help to alleviate stressors. One way is by taking time out of your day to do things that you enjoy, whether that be painting, singing, or roller skating. Carving out time to partake in your hobbies is important as it is so easy to be swept up in work and school and forget about the passions that we enjoy. Another tactic is releasing endorphins. Doing some form of exercise allows your body to release endorphins that block nerve cells that receive pain signals. Another everyday tactic is meditation, whether it is five minutes or twenty minutes it will put your mind at ease.
Risks of Ignoring Stress
Stress builds up over time, and ignoring only makes it grow. Although it can be challenging to deal with, not dealing with your stress at all will only make matters worse. Not only can it negatively impact your mental health, but also your physical health. Not treating your stress can lead to insomnia, frequent illness, weight gain, and many other consequences.
Stress is something that every person, at some point in their life, will experience. The situations, factors, and effects, will all vary, but it is a very real and very serious universal experience. It is important to bring awareness to the impacts stress brings, and to take these small steps to improve overall well-being.
This year, May 10th is World Lupus Day, a day dedicated towards spreading awareness of the chronic disease.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks tissue causing inflammation. Instead of fighting infections, lupus triggers the body to attack healthy tissue mainly affecting skin, joints, kidneys, and the heart. Signs and symptoms of the disease include extreme fatigue, headaches, chest pain, and swelling. The combination of inflammation and the symptoms can also cause the individual to experience hair loss, mouth sores, and butterfly-shaped rashes on the cheeks and nose. Overall, lupus is a persistent disease that affects the overall function of the individual.
The most common form of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE. SLE can either acutely or chronically cause inflammation to organs in the body. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus, is a form that only affects the skin in the form of rashes. Then there is drug-induced lupus erythematosus which is caused by prescription drugs. Although not everyone who takes these drugs will develop the disease, some of the most commonly associated drugs include isoniazid (tuberculosis drug), hydralazine (high blood pressure drug), and procainamide (irregular heart rhythm drug). Unlike the other two forms, the lupus-like symptoms often go away six months after the certain medications are stopped. The fourth form of lupus is neonatal lupus, when a pregnant woman with lupus affects her fetus. It is a rare condition that manifests in the form of a skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell count in the baby at birth. Similar to drug-induced lupus, neonatal lupus typically disappears after six months.
Although lupus can affect anyone, there are certain groups that are more at risk, like women. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, nine out ten people with lupus are women ages 15 to 44. Other at risk people include certain ethnic groups like African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos.
The causes of lupus are unknown, but some scientists suggest that a combination of factors can result in the disease. The first being hormones, and how to produce certain ones, like estrogen, which might explain the reason why it is more prevalent in women. The next factor is genetics, as family history and certain genes have been linked to lupus. The final factor is the environment, which may act as an agent in triggering the disease. Some potential environmental triggers include ultraviolet rays, antibiotic drugs, infections, exhaustion, and emotional stress.
Getting a diagnosis from a doctor may be challenging and requires a series of tests. The combination of symptom analysis, medical and family history, and lab tests can lead towards a diagnosis. Such tests might include blood tests like a complete blood count to measure blood cells or antibody tests to see if the immune system is harming healthy tissue and causing inflammation. Urine tests can also be utilized to check for kidney problems.
Seeing a doctor and receiving a diagnosis, the next step is setting up a treatment plan. There is no single treatment, rather each individual and each case requires different approaches. Seeing a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in joint, muscle, and bone diseases, will help discern the right medicines for the individual to take.
World Lupus day helps to bring awareness to the disease and educate people in the community how they can help and show their support. The first step is by learning about lupus and how it might be affecting your loved one, whether that be physically or emotionally. With these changes, it is important to show your love and care to be someone that they can lean on as they experience many changes. Another is through open communication, being someone that they can talk to or someone they can go to for help.
In 2004, World Lupus Day was created in Canada to help spread awareness of the disease that was not commonly talked about. This sparked an increase in government funding dedicated to research to help improve the patient experience. Since then, a majority of continents have joined and the ways to participate have increased. This year, people can participate by wearing the color purple to show support. Many communities also host events to spread awareness and raise money for lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America is a resource with a list of events and other ways to celebrate World Lupus Day.
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