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Health: Four stress related ailments and how to fight them

Grinding teeth and painful ulcers are born in the head. A review of the multi-pronged attack stress can have on the body, and the treatment available to you

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Mouth ulcers
Apart from poor oral hygiene and immune system, ulcers and cold sores can also result from stress.
Causes
Mouth sores are regularly seen among children during exams or among adults before occasions that make them anxious. Ulcers are caused by various other reasons such as Herpes Labialis and HPV. In these cases, the virus might be present in the body but is triggered due to the onset of stress. Some women who are about to menstruate also develop ulcers.
Treatment
Ulcers can be treated with gels and prescribed supplements.

— Dr Tina Chhatpar, dental surgeon

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The Temporomandibular joint is the one that helps you move your jaw. Grinding or clenching of teeth leads to overuse of the muscle and results in this disorder.
Symptoms and effects
A lot of patients usually complain of muscle soreness, facial pain from the ear to the lower jaw and locked jaw. There is also a clicking expected. The pain usually occurs in the morning because we tend to clench the jaw and grind teeth while sleeping.
Cure
Doctors usually do a check by inserting fingers in the ears and asking patients to move the jaw. There are different levels of severity if this disorder. For preventive and interceptive measures, a night guard has to be worn to stop the impact of clenching. For different stages either the bite is corrected or patients are referred to orthodontists or physiotherapists. With advancement of age it results in lessening of facial height.

— Dr Tina Chhatpar

Reflux esophagitis and stomach ulcers
Reflux esophagitis is one of the many causes of acidity. Acid reflux damages the esophageal lining and causes a burning sensation or ulcer formation.
Causes
While ulcers in the stomach form due to the bacteria H.Pylori that enters the system from water, popping painkillers also causes ulcers in the stomach. Bad lifestyle habits like eating fried and fatty food, aerated drinks, consuming too many calories, wearing tight clothes, smoking and tobacco consumption, all lead to reflux. The valve between the food pipe and the stomach, which opens to let food enter or let air out, relaxes due to stress, which also leads to acid reflux. When stressed, the lining of the food pipe and stomach is more susceptible to acid attack.
Prevention
Maintain ideal body weight. Do not lie down immediately after eating. Consume a balanced diet and on time.

— Dr Tariq Patel, consultant gastrologist, Wockhardt Hospital

Cervical Spondylosis
While Cervical Spondylosis is an ageing issue, stress speeds it up and the condition worsens as you age. It can also occur due to the drying up of the discs that sit between spinal bones, increasing the friction between the bones. Sometimes, the disc juts out and pressures the root of the nerve, causing pain.
Symptoms and effects
It begins with neck pain and stiffness of the neck to complete lack of motion. Heaviness of the neck early in the morning is also a sign. It progresses to pain in the upper limb, shoulders and tingling feeling in the fingers. In severe cases, patients can experience loss of grip.
Precautions
While it is an ageing related issue that occurs between 45 and 50, today, it is seen affecting those between 35 and 40 too, or even earlier. It is the result of bad posture, overuse of computer, staring in one position for long and lack of neck movement. People in corporate jobs that require long hours at the desk are worse affected. Take short breaks every 40 minutes and turn the neck in all directions to reduce soreness. Do simple neck exercises for relief.
Cure
Initial non-steroid cure can be done with anti-inflammatory analgesics. Muscle relaxants are prescribed too. Severe cases demand physiotherapy and other monitored exercises and treatment.

— Dr Sachin Bhat, orthopaedic surgeon, SRV Hospital

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