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Medical Zebra

Medical Zebra

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What have zebras got to do with medical issues, you may be rightfully wondering at this point. It seems like these are two things that operate in very separate spaces; one on the plains of Africa, the other in the deep and dark recesses of your mind. So what’s the link?

It all relates back to a phrase that medical students are taught during their training. For most medical students, they get into their field to be excited, to advance new medical studies, to immerse themselves in scientific breakthroughs. As a result, they are prone to taking a benign set of symptoms and seeing a bizarre, novel cause for them. It’s not through any negligence; but more a manifestation of their desire to be on the ground-breaking, cutting edge of science.

To try and temper this enthusiasm and bring them back down to earth, their professors will ask them to see symptoms as hoofbeats. To put the same problem to you: if you heard the rat-tat of hoofbeats around the corner and turned your head to see what was causing them – what would you expect to see? Horses – or zebra?

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For medical students, learning to realize that 99.9% of the time it will be the more generic, realistic horses is a big part of their training. Sure, maybe one day there would be a zoo outbreak, and it would be zebras careening towards them – but the rest of the time, it’s horses.

It’s a point that is pertinent to laypeople as well as the doctors of the future. We all have a tendency to expect zebra when really we’re just dealing with common or garden horses. That’s not to minimize the impact those horses might have (there’s always a chance of being stampeded by wild horses, of course…), but it is to say: look for the most likely cause first.

It’s something we don’t keep in mind when we suffer a health problem. And it can make things a million times worse.

Stress Is A Killer

There are no specific statistics on the number of people that stress kills every year, but if they were, we’d see it a prevalent serial killer. We know the numbers for those who die of stress-related illnesses, and they make grim reading.

If you are stressed, your immune system is lowered. Your neurological functioning is weaker. Your heart rate and blood pressure are negatively affected.

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So let’s say you have a symptom that you’re concerned about. Something that seems threatening, perhaps pain near ribs or a shortness of breath. You have a vague understanding that these issues are Bad Things, while not being entirely sure of the exact cause.

The moment you notice these problems, you begin to stress about them. You’re expecting zebra, at this point. It’s far too easy – with help from the never-useful Dr. Google – to assume that there is something seriously wrong. You convince yourself that you’ve not just pulled a muscle or any of the other myriad of mild causes for your symptoms – you’re dying. Your mind jumps to the worst case scenario. And thus, your stress begins to creep up.

How This Makes Things Worse

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There’s a very basic way this reaction can make things worse: it can interfere with tests. If you go to see a doctor with those symptoms, they will most likely run a basic blood pressure check. If you’ve been stressing, panic and anxiety eating away at you, then your blood pressure is likely to be high. Not necessarily because of the symptoms you’re experiencing, but because of your reaction to those symptoms. It becomes a false positive, potentially sending medical investigation down entirely the wrong route.

So How Do You Fight Back?

In truth, there is no easy way of dealing with this, no magic fix. Very few of us have active control over our stress response; it’s more something that happens to us rather than something we invite.

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The best way to cope with it is to ask family and friends for their opinion. Do they think it’s a concern? They can answer it without the stress hormone cortisol interfering with their decision-making process. Furthermore, if an issue becomes truly invasive, then seek a medical opinion – don’t just sit on both the symptom and your stress about it in the hopes it will go away. The chances are in your favor; you’re almost certainly just hearing horses – but there’s no harm in making sure.

Tia, and TipsfromTia.com  is trying to keep you looking good and
feeling good, from the inside out. If you’ve got a problem or a tip email me! Be sure to Like and share on Facebook or Follow on Twitter or Instagram

Stress Isn’t Just Annoying, It’s Actually Dangerous!

Stress Isn’t Just Annoying, It’s Actually Dangerous!

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We all get stressed from time to time, that’s just a natural part of life. Between work, family life and trying to maintain a healthy social life, there are plenty of occasions when things start to pile on, and you need to take a break from it all. For the most part, the best thing to do is just step back and relax for a little bit. Try to forget the things that are causing you stress, rest, and recharge. But what happens when you’re not able to do that? What happens when stress goes from being a minor and occasional inconvenience to being a constant and persistent part of your life? Well, it turns out that too much stress isn’t just annoying or inconvenient, it can actually be downright dangerous! Here are a few ways that too much stress can actually cause problems for you, your life, and your body.

Adrenal fatigue

Your adrenal glands are the primary stress control center in your body. They are incredibly important for maintaining correct stress levels throughout your system. When put under too much strain through external stress such as depression, anger, sleep deprivation or infection, then your adrenal glands can actually stop functioning properly. This can lead to adrenal exhaustion. There are a lot of different symptoms of adrenal exhaustion but some of them include weight gain and respiratory problems.

Weakened immune system

There is a lot less attention paid to the relationship between the mind and the body than there should be. However there have been links found between stress levels and a weakened immune system. How many us have been in the position where we get sick right at the moment where we really needed not to. Perhaps there was a big presentation coming up at work, or you were getting ready to move house. These kinds of situations can be incredibly stressful and those stress levels in your system can often leave your body vulnerable.

Heart problems

Too much stress hormone in your system increases your heart rate and constricts your blood vessels. This means that your heart is under much more pressure and is forced to work a lot harder, leading increase blood pressure levels. Studies have also shown a clear link between stress levels and a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack.

Relationship difficulties

This might not relate to your body, but it is still a risk factor when it comes to the stress levels in your life. If you’re feeling very stressed and under a lot of pressure, that can very often lead to difficulty communicating in your relationship, as well as sometimes taking that stress out on the people closest to you. Large amounts of stress also make you more likely to overreact to minor inconveniences. This is what often leads to minor disagreements turn into heated screaming matches for seemingly no reason. People with increased levels of stress often find it much harder to come back down from that place and calm down as well. It’s important not to let the stress of life get in the way of a happy, healthy relationship.

Tia, and TipsfromTia.com  is trying to keep you looking good and
feeling good, from the inside out. If you’ve got a problem or a tip email me! Be sure to Like and share on Facebook or Follow on Twitter or Instagram