Can Stress Cause Infections? The Contagious Link

Lurking beneath the surface; discover the surprising connection between stress and infections that may leave you questioning your immune system's resilience.
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Are you feeling too stressed because of work or personal problems? Do you find yourself often sick or catching colds? Stress and health problems can be linked. Stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections 1.

Key Takeaways

  • Stress diminishes lymphocytes, weakening immune defenses and making one more prone to infections.
  • Prolonged stress can exacerbate infection symptoms.
  • Stress management via mindfulness and good nutrition can bolster immune health and prevent infections.

This blog is part of a series on “physical symptoms of stress“. The next blog will answer: Can stress cause cold sores?

Impact of Stress on Immune Response

Stress and its little helpers, cortisol and other stress hormones, can give our immune system a tough time. You see, when we’re stressed out, our body responds by releasing these hormones.

Lymphocytes are the good guys, the warriors our body needs to fight off unwanted guests like bacteria. Without them, our immune system’s defense isn’t as strong. Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that’s usually just lazing around harmlessly on our skin, can then cause a bit of a stir. The result? Skin infections such as abscesses. It’s as if our body’s defense team was too tired to show up for work because of all the stress.

The moral of our story? We need to take care of our stress levels. It’s not just about feeling good mentally, but also about keeping our immune system in top shape. That way, we can throw the best, most robust defense parties and keep those infections at bay.

Types of Infections Influenced by Stress

When we’re grappling with stress, it’s like opening the floodgates for infections like the common cold, tuberculosis, herpes reactivation, shingles, and ulcers – they just love to join the party! The constant stress we face doesn’t just put a strain on our mental health, but it also weakens our immune system, making it harder to fend off these uninvited guests.

Now, we’re not just talking about a sneeze here or a cough there. Chronic stress can amplify the risk of specific infections by getting in the way of our body’s ability to fight off these pathogens effectively. It’s like being a knight in shining armor but with a few dents in the shield.

The changes that stress causes in our immune system can increase the possibility of not only catching infections but also experiencing more intense symptoms. It’s like adding fuel to the fire! Recognizing the connection between stress and our vulnerability to infections is critical.

Why? Because managing our stress levels can be instrumental in keeping us healthy and strengthening our defenses against a multitude of infectious agents. So let’s not underestimate the power of a little ‘me-time’ or a good laugh with friends. After all, laughter is the best medicine!

Strategies to Manage Stress for Immune Health

How about practicing mindfulness and meditation? These are our secret weapons to fight off stress. By spending a bit of time each day in quiet reflection, we can lower our stress levels and reduce inflammation, giving our immune system a high five.

Boost immune health naturally

Now, let’s chat about food. You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat,” and there’s some truth to it. We can give our immune system a helping hand by eating a balanced diet.

Picture a plate with fruits, proteins, grains, and vitamins, all working together like a finely tuned orchestra creating a symphony of health. Foods like fish, berries, and whole grains are the rock stars of this health orchestra, not only boosting our brain health but also helping us chill out.


Stress can be harmful to our health, similar to a big, dark cloud. It can make our immune system weaker. This might make us get sick more often.

By keeping our stress under control, we can brighten up our health. We can strengthen our immune system again. This helps keep us safe from getting sick.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Infections Can You Get From Stress?

High stress levels can make our bodies more susceptible to different infections. Stress can exacerbate illnesses like colds and flu, and cause gastrointestinal problems. It may even trigger dormant infections like herpes to reappear. Chronic stress can increase inflammation, weakening our immune system’s ability to fight off infections. As a result, we may become more prone to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections due to these stress-induced changes in our immune system.

What Are Serious Diseases Caused by Stress?

Stress can lead to serious conditions like coronary heart disease, peptic ulcers, and ulcerative colitis. It can also exacerbate hypertension and digestive disorder symptoms. How does stress affect mental health? Stress plays a significant role in triggering mental illnesses like neuroses, depression, and schizophrenia.

What Can Extreme Stress Cause?

Extreme stress can cause significant changes in our bodies, particularly affecting our immune system. Prolonged stress can weaken it, making us susceptible to infections that we would typically combat effortlessly. Recognizing stress’s impact on our health and managing it effectively is essential for protection against potential health threats.

How Long Does It Take the Body to Recover From Stress?

The recovery time from stress differs based on personal factors and stress intensity. Acute stress can be resolved swiftly, while chronic stress may require weeks or even months. Our physical and mental state, coping methods, and support network can influence recovery time. Adopting relaxation techniques, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking professional help can expedite this process.

  1. Do stress-related disorders raise the risk of infections? ([]
Alex Reijnierse
Alex Reijnierse

Alex Reijnierse is a stress management expert with over a decade of experience in helping individuals effectively manage and reduce stress. He holds a Master of Science (MSc) and has a background in high-pressure environments, which has given him firsthand experience in dealing with chronic stress.

The articles on this website are fact-checked, with sources cited where relevant. They also reflect personal experiences in dealing with the effects of stress and its management. When in doubt, consult with a certified healthcare professional. See also the disclaimer.