London, UK (BBN) – Stress can take a real toll on your body.
Headaches may become more frequent, it may be difficult to get the right amount of sleep and even the digestive system can often act out of sorts, reports
Here family physician Dr Roger Henderson reveals some of the health conditions that can be exacerbated by stress and what you can do to manage them.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects around 13 million Britons and 45 million Americans.
Seventy percent of doctors say it is the most common digestive condition they see in practice.
The pain of IBS is caused by muscle spasms in the bowel and although symptoms can vary from person to person, they can include abdominal pain and discomfort, diarrhea and constipation as well as bloating of the abdomen.
Experts don’t know exactly why the condition develops, although they do agree that there are some things that can trigger symptoms with stress being one of the most common.
In fact, 94 per cent of British doctors surveyed by Buscopan IBS Relief said the most common trigger for their patients’ IBS flare ups was stress.
Family doctor Dr Roger Henderson says: ‘It’s widely recognised that there’s a complex connection between the brain and the digestive system which is why our mood can often affect the way our tummies feel.
‘The stomach and intestines are lined with millions of nerve cells, which control and regulate the digestive system.
‘These nerve cells help to pass messages from the gut to the brain and vice versa so it’s no surprise that a lot of information our gut sends to the brain affects how we feel.
‘This is why you might feel butterflies when you’re nervous or crave fatty foods when you’re stressed.
‘Stress can alter the connection between the gut and the brain and affect the movement and contractions of the GI tract so people with IBS can be very sensitive to stress.
‘While it’s almost impossible to avoid stress completely there are things you can do to help.
‘Try exercising or some simple breathing techniques to help you stay calm. It’s also helpful to talk to someone about what’s on your mind or go out with friends doing something you enjoy.
‘Stress can’t always be avoided so if you do experience an IBS flare up have some medication to hand just in case.
‘Antispasmodics can be taken at the first sign of a flare up and quickly work to ease spasms in the intestines at the root cause of pain.’

Scientists have various theories as to why we sweat when we’re stressed, including it being a sign to those around us that someone is suffering from distress.
What is clear is that sweat from environmental heat or physical activity is produced by your eccrine sweat glands, while sweat caused by stress comes primarily from your apocrine glands.
Family doctor Dr Roger Henderson says: ‘There are nearly four million sweat glands throughout the human body, and most can be found on your palms, soles of your feet, face and armpits.
‘There are two types of glands that secret sweat. The first type are those that excrete when you are active called eccrine glands which are mostly made up of water.
‘The second type are apocrine glands that are found in areas of concentrated hair follicles such as your armpits which are larger in size and excrete a thicker form of sweat containing more proteins and lipids.
‘It is this fattier sweat that scientists believe bacteria most like to feed on and the reason for strong body odor.
‘When our bodies are in stress mode, otherwise known as flight or fight, these glands push sweat to the surface of the skin.
‘Although excessive sweating can feel like a taboo subject, if your sweating is starting to interfere with your daily life it’s a good idea to visit your GP.’

Research has found a link between stress and teeth grinding, which 70 percent of Britons have reported.
Known as bruxism, teeth grinding can go undetected as the most common symptom is a headache, usually concentrated at the temples of the head.
Other symptoms include sleep disorders, ear ache, and stiff muscles in the jaw, shoulders and neck.
The teeth will also show signs of wear, cracks and tooth loss can result.
This is caused by the unconscious clenching of the jaw and friction of both sets of teeth grinding against one another, most commonly during sleep.
Family doctor Dr Roger Henderson says: ‘If you suspect that you are suffering from Bruxism, it is important to see your dentist who can provide a proper diagnosis.
‘Grinding your teeth can be triggered by several factors including an underlying sleep disorder, stress and anxiety or a result of dietary intakes such as alcohol and caffeine.
‘Your dentist will recommend a guard specially made for your teeth to create a protective barrier from friction to prevent increased tooth wear and reduce discomfort of the jaw muscles.’

Increased amounts of stress over long periods have been shown to cause hair loss.
Hair loss is believed to be due to stress hormones causing the hair follicles to go into hibernation, which results in hair falling out when washed or brushed.
Dr Henderson says: ‘There are various types of hair loss related to stress and conditions that cause hair loss which can be exacerbated by stress and which will need to be diagnosed by a GP.
‘Hair loss can be very distressing but it is important to remember that in most cases it will grow back with proper care and by using methods to reduce stress.
‘It may take several months for the hair to regrow due to the natural hair cycle.
‘If you’re someone who is experiencing drastic or sudden hair loss you should consult your doctor as this could be related to an underlying health condition.’
Stress and sleepless nights have long gone hand in hand.
In most cases of insomnia, reducing stress has been shown to alleviate sleeplessness, make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep.
The hormones caused by stress induce our bodies into what is known as hyperarousal, which disrupts the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
Dr Henderson says: ‘When we are stressed we often find ourselves lying in bed staring into the darkness, while constantly thinking about all our worries.
‘There are a few things you can do to prep the body for sleep. Try avoiding all screens at least two hours before bed, as they have been shown to disrupt sleep.
‘It is also important to go to bed at the same time each night and to get up at the same time each morning.
‘Daily exercise has also been found to increase feelings of wellbeing and to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and so aid sleep.
‘Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet every day and avoid drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol as they’ll only exacerbate the problem.’
Exhaustion is a chronic feeling of a lack of motivation or energy often as a result of insomnia induced by stress.
The Mental Health Foundation found that nearly a third of the British population are sleep-deprived, most often because of career and finance worries.
Dr Henderson says: ‘The stresses and strains of daily life can be exhausting and can make you feel drained.
‘It has been shown that mental health problems such as anxiety can leave you feeling more tired, even after resting.
‘This is the key to knowing if you are suffering from stress related fatigue.
‘Not only does stress prevent you from getting a proper night’s sleep, it also often produces a low mood, both of which lead to fatigue.
‘It is important to identify the sources of your stress and take steps to resolve these. If you are unsure why you feel anxious all the time and are unable to resolve it on your own, I would recommend seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor.
‘Other techniques that can help to relax the mind, include regular meditation, exercise and eating a health balanced diet.
‘Knowing the difference between physical and stress related fatigue helps you know whether you should talk with your doctor.
‘If symptoms persist, visit your doctor who will be able to do further tests to rule out any underlying health conditions or illnesses.’