Stress causes serious damage to health. Know which

This Friday (23/9) is World Stress Day. The date was chosen to alert the population about the importance of reviewing everyday habits that cause symptoms that affect both the brain and the body.

All people experience stress to some degree. It is the human body’s quick response to anything that requires attention or action. However, when in excess, it can compromise the proper functioning of a number of vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys, with reflections on the skin, hair, teeth and metabolism, for example.

According to nephrologist Caroline Reigada, specialist in intensive and internal/clinical medicine, the damages of chronic stress are a consequence of hormonal imbalance caused mainly by the imbalance in the levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands located on the kidneys when the body is in a “fight or flight” situation.

See how stress harms the human body:


Stress is a major enemy of skin health. The cortisol hormone is related to the potentiation of the organ’s continuous inflammatory state, a process that reduces the lifespan and activity of cells, contributing to the early appearance of signs of age, such as wrinkles and sagging.

Cortisol also stimulates the production of androgen hormones and triggers the sebaceous glands, increasing the production of skin oils. The combination leads to clogged pores and the appearance of blackheads and pimples. Dermatologist Paola Pomerantzeff, a member of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD), explains that low immunity and excess keratin associated with stress also favor the proliferation of acne-related bacteria.


Hair loss and the appearance of gray hairs are also associated with high levels of cortisol in the body. The inflammatory process caused by the hormone can even prevent hair growth.

teeth and gum

The inflammatory effect of stress also has direct consequences on oral health. The hormones produced by the body at these times, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can contribute to the emergence of periodontal diseases.

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Faced with a stressful situation, the body reacts with the release of cortisol and adrenaline and blood flow decreases. This process triggers impairment in some bodily functions, with symptoms such as coldness or numbness in the hands and feet due to insufficient blood reaching the extremities; bluish or purplish tinge to the legs, especially in fair-skinned people; dry skin, breakage of nails and hair, and slower healing of wounds and scrapes in diabetics.

“The inflammation generated by cortisol can also cause blood vessels to suffer from lesions that can reduce the caliber of veins and arteries, increasing the risk of hypertension and thrombosis,” says vascular surgeon Aline Lamaita, a member of the Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular surgery.


Stress also has a direct effect on the heart, increasing the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes caused by high blood pressure, a faster heart rate and increased levels of fats and blood sugar.


Stress reactions can be even more severe for people suffering from kidney and cardiovascular disease. Nephrologist Caroline explains that chronic stress causes phosphate to be excreted at non-standard levels, impairing kidney function.

“As the body’s blood filtering units, the kidneys are impacted by problems with blood vessels and circulation. So high blood pressure and high blood sugar brought on by stress can also put a strain on the kidneys,” she says.


“Emotional appetite” is one of the body’s natural responses to stress. This is because cortisol increases cravings for high-energy, often unhealthy foods. In addition to contributing to weight gain, hormones also stimulate the formation of fat cells that store fat.

“Your body knows that it is in a stressed position and will not let you lose weight as it would under normal conditions”, says nutritionist Marcella Garcez, director and professor at the Brazilian Association of Nutrology (Abran).

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