home
RSS
Why stress makes colds more likely
April 2nd, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Why stress makes colds more likely

Most of us know from experience that stress weakens our immune system. Colds always seem to strike when we're overworked or emotionally exhausted, as do eczema flare-ups, headaches and a myriad of other health problems.

Doctors long ago confirmed that the connection between stress and health is real, but they haven't been able to fully explain it. Now, in a new study, researchers say they've identified a specific biological process linking life stressors - such as money trouble or divorce - to an illness.

In this case it's the common cold.

Most research in this area has focused on cortisol, the so-called stress hormone released by the adrenal glands when we feel threatened or anxious. One of cortisol's jobs is to temporarily dampen the immune system, specifically the inflammatory response, in order to free up energy to deal with threats.

The fact that cortisol suppresses inflammation presents a puzzle: People who are chronically stressed tend to have higher levels of cortisol, yet the sneezing, sniffling and coughing of the average cold are actually caused by the inflammatory response to a virus, not the virus itself.

Shouldn't stress therefore prevent cold symptoms?

Health.com: How to stop a cold in its tracks

The authors of the new study have an answer: The key factor that influences a person's vulnerability to illness appears to be the immune system's sensitivity to cortisol, not his or her cortisol levels per se. And chronic stress, the study suggests, may weaken the body's responsiveness to the hormone, allowing the inflammation that causes cold symptoms to run wild.

"Stressed people's immune cells become less sensitive to cortisol," says lead author Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. "They're unable to regulate the inflammatory response, and therefore, when they're exposed to a virus, they're more likely to develop a cold."

Cohen and his colleagues tested their theory in a pair of experiments, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the first, they interviewed 276 healthy men and women about the sources of psychological stress in their lives over the previous year, including unhappy work situations, long-term conflicts with family or friends, or legal or financial woes. And then they tried to get them sick.

Health.com: Job killing you? 8 types of work-related stress

The researchers gave each study participant nasal drops containing a rhinovirus (a common cold-causing virus) and quarantined them for five days, during which 39% of the volunteers came down with a cold. Those who were stressed-out had double the risk of falling ill, even after age, body mass index and a host of other factors were taken into account.

When the researchers went back and looked at blood tests taken a week or two earlier, they found no link between blood cortisol levels and the likelihood of getting sick. However, they did find that the typical relationship between cortisol and inflammation - as one rises, the other tends to fall - seemed to be disrupted in people who were stressed-out and in those who developed colds.

In these groups, cortisol levels had no bearing on inflammation (as measured by the levels of certain white blood cells), suggesting that "stressed people were... resistant" to cortisol and "non-stressed people were not," Cohen says.

A second, smaller experiment that used a different measure of inflammation confirmed the link between cortisol resistance and higher levels of inflammation.

Health.com: 7 steps to instant calm

Although a cure for the common cold is still a long ways off, the findings do raise the possibility that there may be "ways of intervening when a person is chronically stressed, possibly pharmacologically, to influence this kind of process," Cohen says.

An intervention of that sort wouldn't only be useful during cold-and-flu season, since a wide range of health problems have been linked to stress and inflammation, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

The study "implies that other diseases where the control of inflammation is important would be influenced in the same way—that we could find the same sort of mechanisms operating in those cases," Cohen says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

Post by:
Filed under: Cold and flu • Health.com • Stress

soundoff (726 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Kudos!

    http://www.migrantcinema.net.gridhosted.co.uk/?URL=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/about

    June 19, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    https://localbusiness.theledger.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://ocrv.club/toy-hauler-trailer-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 19, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Nearby RV Repair

    http://studivz.net/Link/Dereferer/?https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-monrovia-california/

    June 19, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    Great post. I will be dealing with a few of these issues as well..

    http://infotiger.com/addurl.html?url=www.ocrvcenter.com/fleetstar-collision-repair-shop-near-me&

    June 19, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    I love it when people come together and share thoughts. Great site, continue the good work!

    http://loome.net/demo.php?url=http://ocrvcenter.co/rv-repair-shop-claremont-california

    June 19, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Orange County California

    I'm excited to discover this site. I need to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to see new things on your website.

    http://lolinez.com/?https://ocrvluxurycoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-whittier-california

    June 19, 2021 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Orange County

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization/reauexit.cfm?link=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-fabrication-repair-near-me

    June 19, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Internet Marketing Agency

    https://response-o-matic.com/thank_you.php?u=affordableranking.com/&t=service+near+me

    June 20, 2021 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Local Marketing Consultant

    This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate infoÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    https://ascrs.org/sso/logout.aspx?returnurl=https://http://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Social Media Marketing Services Near Me

    http://www.cheaphalloween.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com

    June 20, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Internet Marketing Agencies

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the web. I am going to highly recommend this site!

    http://davidmstanton.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.http://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sbobet

    After looking into a handful of the blog posts on your blog, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging.
    I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back
    in the near future. Please check out my website too and let me know how you feel.

    June 20, 2021 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Local Marketing Near Me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying these details.

    http://www.caleda.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jimmie Lidey

    https://localbusiness.nwfdailynews.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.ocrv.xyz

    June 20, 2021 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Spencer Ulses

    https://www.earth-policy.org/?URL=https://www.highrisetv.com

    June 20, 2021 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Luci Carpino

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Appreciate it!

    http://yellowpages.observer-reporter.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://www.codymarketing.com

    June 20, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Yoshiko Toole

    https://google.co.ma/url?q=https://ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 20, 2021 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ali Rendell

    Great site you have got here.. Itís difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    https://genki365.net/gnka01/common/redirect.php?url=http://bestshopnearme.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Nearby RV Repairs

    May I simply just say what a relief to uncover a person that genuinely understands what they are talking about on the net. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

    http://citywidefire.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 20, 2021 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. puppies for sale near me

    http://d-click.madiaimprensa.com.br/u/1214/3400/0/24427_0/b90af/?url=https://masternearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. lidl near me

    Hello there! This article couldnít be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    http://www.thefraudsquad.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bulknearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. pharmaceptica.com

    how long does tadalafil last https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Hiram Pinsky

    I want to pursue a major in creative writing, and eventually become a fiction writer, but my question is, besides teaching english (which I NEVER picture myself doing), what is there for someone with a creative writing degree to do before they have written any books. My mom says a degree in creative writing is like signing up to work at Starbuck's until i get published, is this the case?.

    https://twitter.com/katekdesigns

    June 21, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Nearby RV Repairs

    http://weekend-homes.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. apartments near me

    http://www.nrpsinc.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestservicenearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.

    http://www.valawyers.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Near My Location

    There's definately a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you made.

    http://blessingfoundation.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I truly believed you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.

    http://butterflycompany.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Near Me Now

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    http://dbaoncall.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.org/

    June 21, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Conversion Van Repair Shop Near Me

    I truly love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím hoping to create my very own site and want to learn where you got this from or what the theme is called. Kudos!

    http://diversity4children.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.fleettruckrepairshop.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Van Repair

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you should publish more about this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people do not talk about these issues. To the next! Cheers!!

    http://histouch.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicesocrv.com

    June 21, 2021 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Nearby RV Repair

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for providing this information.

    http://missingsock.eu/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.us

    June 21, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Electrical Repair Near Me

    http://www.paul-stanley.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvmotorsports.life

    June 21, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Places Near Me

    http://www.buydvsshoes.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.me

    June 21, 2021 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    http://jerrywickey.net/files/link.php?lp=nywvpkbcdpucosolgyeaxxiobxnyv&url=https://ocrvmotorsports.net

    June 22, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Conversion Van Repair Shop

    http://www.peraqua.at/culture-change/en?redirect=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com

    June 22, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Ac Repair Near Me

    http://assemble.us/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvshop.com

    June 22, 2021 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Near Me

    http://oneofakindworldwide.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. best true crime podcast

    I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.

    http://en.turismovenezia.it/index.php?id=0&lang=de&referer=http://backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. podcast recording

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.

    http://dispatcher.us/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Near Me Now

    http://smartprobes.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Near Here

    Howdy, I do believe your website could be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic site!

    http://www.kyoto-osaka.com/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=9143&url=http://ocrvcenter.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Center Near Me

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.

    http://www.lawrenceinternational.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. sean hannity podcast

    http://creativesoundstudios.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Content Marketing Boutique

    https://miss-sc.org/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Furnace Repair Near Me

    Itís difficult to find well-informed people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://www.thaicatering.com/bitrix/rk.php?goto=http://www.ocrv.art

    June 23, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Agency Near Me

    Iím impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my search for something concerning this.

    https://www.grantrequest.com/SID_1268/default4.asp?SA=EXIT&url=https://consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Video Marketing Company

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I truly thought you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.

    http://designguide.com/redirect.ashx?url=https://consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Internet Marketing Consultants

    https://mocksup.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. monday morning podcast

    Great post! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    http://manchesterarena.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 05:02 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to google gambling seo


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.