Can Stress Cause an Infection?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Can stress increase your risk of a severe infection? Check out this data.


0:00 Introduction

0:12 Common stress-induced infections

1:57 Acute vs. chronic stress

2:32 Why stress suppresses your immune system

3:57 How to bulletproof your immune system

In this video, we’re going to talk about stress-induced infections.

The following infections can be connected to stress:

• Tuberculosis (TB)

• Herpes simplex (cold sores)

• Shingles

• H-pylori (ulcers)

• Common cold


Many viruses can lay dormant until a stress event weakens your immune system. Stress can significantly reduce your natural immune function. This is why many infections happen right after a major stress event.

There are two types of stress: acute and chronic. Acute stress affects the innate immune system—this is the part of the immune system you’re born with. Chronic stress affects the acquired immune system—this is the part of the immune system that you develop when you’re exposed to certain pathogens.

When you go through stress, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol can suppress white blood cells. White blood cells are a vital part of healthy immune function. So when you’re stressed, you don’t have that barrier to help protect your body from infections.

Stress can also make you susceptible to food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and slow wound healing.

In summary, stress can inhibit normal immune function and lead to stress-induced infections because of increased cortisol. It’s crucial to maintain healthy stress levels.


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