The Physiology of Stress

“Group 6 it’s your turn” as Dr. Davies took his seat at the beginning of his lectures. Hospital practice-course title, has been that platform for all students offering it to display their skills in research and lecture delivery. “We’ll be discussing cortisol and it effect on stress” the group leader said by way of introduction. Sit back, take your time as I bring you bit by bit information on the physiology of stress, causes and management.

Dr. Davies Kofrey defined stress as the condition capable of unbalancing homeostasis in the body. Stress is an inevitable part of life ranging from physical stress which includes change in weather conditions, increase in body temperature; emotional stress: anger, fear; to bacteria invasion in the body causing infection and sickness.
Stress can be both beneficial-physiological or destructive. A good example physiological stress is muscular exercise with its attendant imbalance in the body for example mild hypoxia with might result in the production of ketone in the body. And of course, worry and anxiety could be classified as negative stress.

Stress of any kind whether it be physical or neurologic can cause an immediate and marked increase in ACTH secretion by the anterior pituitary followed within minutes by adrenocorticotropic secretion of cortisol. Cortisol is an emergency-stress response hormone secreted at any incidence of stress (listed below). It mobilizes labile proteins and make amino acids available to needy cells in the synthesize of essential substance need for life. Various stressor of the body includes: Infections, intense mild/heat, surgery, almost any debilitating disease including schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis and poliomyelitis amongst others.

Short and Long Term Effects of Stress
During periods of increased stress, the immune cells which produces antibodies are bathed (immersed) in molecules which essentially tell them to stop fighting. These molecules which are cortisol molecules suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways rendering the body more susceptible to disease (Onyinyechi, 2016). Other significant effects of stress include prolonged healing time as a result of increased blood clotting time, reduction in ability to cope with vaccinations and heightened vulnerability to viral infection.
Onn a long time scale, effects of stress are seen in impaired cognition-trouble in remembering and learning; decreased thyroid function amongst others.

Managing stress: Simple both effective way of combating stress includes Exercise, relaxation, deep breathing, consulting a specialist say a psychologist, etc.

Remember, stress is a normal part of life but at times it may be too much and feels out of control.

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Recently, I have been receiving lectures on the Gastrointestinal Tract otherwise known as the Digestive System. I feel its helpful to share the knowledge gained in the course of learning. Today, I will be discussing one of the most recurrent issues regarding this system.
The digestive system generally takes in, digest and absorb necessary nutrients in the food we eat. Normally, when digested food pass through the colon, large portion of fluid is absorbed and only a semisolid stool remains hut when there is increased movement of intestine it leads to frequent and profuse discharge of intestinal contents in loose a condition called Diarrhea.

In diarrhea, the fluid is not absorbed sufficiently resulting in watery bowel discharges. Acute diarrhea may be caused by temporary problems like infection while chronic diarrhea may be due to intestinal mucosa disorder. Diarrhea at times might be a symptom that occur in many diseases. It might be a red-flag for cholera.

1. Taking in contaminated food: Eating of drinking improper articles, artificial sweeteners found in food, spicy food, etc.
2. Food intolerance: poorly cooked food, spoiled food, or unriped fruits lead to indigestion, a common cause of acute diarrhea. For example, substances such as lactose, a sugar present in milk and milk products may not be digested easily leading to diarrhea.
3. Infections by: bacteria such as shigella; viruses like rotavirus; parasite like Guardia lamibia
4. Reaction to medicines: diarrhea is caused by medicines such as Antibodies and antihypertensive drugs; Antacids containing magnesium, laxatives.
5. Intestinal diseases: inflammation ofnintestine, irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal motility of the intestine cause chronic diarrhea.

Loss of excess water and electrolyte leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance maybe because of severe diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea results in hypokalemia and metabolic acidosis other signs of diarrhea are abdominal pain, nausea and bloating(a condition in which the subject feels the abdomen full and tight due to excess intestinal gas).

1. Drinking large quantities of warm water
2. Patient should remain in bed as walking or moving aabout will aggravate the diarrhea.
3. Avoidance of vegetables or flesh food will often cause a rrecurrence of diarrhea
4. Hygiene should be observed by the patient.


Cassava (Manihot esculenta) has the common name such as cassava, Brazilian avoowool, manioc and tapioca is a woody shrub of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, native to South America. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and sub-tropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrate. Though it is sometimes called Yuca in Spanish, it differs from the Yucca an unrelated fruit bearing shrub in the family Asparafaceae cassava. When dried to a powered (or barely) extract is called tapioca, it’s fermented, flaky version is named garri.
Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrate in the tropics, after rice and maize. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought tolerant crops capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.

Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter like other root and tuber crop. Both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain anti-nutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing larger proportion. They must be properly processed before consumption as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual of cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication goiter and even ataxia (shaky movement and unsteady gait that results from the brains failure to regulate the body’s posture and the strength and direction of limbs movement) or partial paralysis.
The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resources (a food security crop) in times of famine in some places. Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals and thieves.

Garri production involves processing raw cassava after harvesting from the farm. The major processes involving pilling of cassava bark, washing, 24-30 hours of fermentation(fermentation here occurs in small percentage), grinding in the cassava mill, compression to dehydrate using a compressor machine, then the final stage would now include sieving with aluminum sieves with hole diameter of 0.2-0.4mm and frying on a plane fry pan at temperature of about 90O-100Oc.
However, these days because of increased demand of garri, the pain-taking processing procedures as highlighted above are by-passed. Thus, leading to poor finished product containing some reasonable amount of anti-nutritional factor such as cyanide and its potential effect. Poor processing lacks fermentation process of at least 24 hours and processing process is dependent on heat for the removal of cyanide. It is important to state here that, the incomplete detoxification often result due to the fact that the temperature needed for complete detoxification might not be attained.

Garri is commonly detoxified of Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN), fermentation (destroys cyanide linkages & bonds), application of palm oil (functions as an emulsifiers, it emulsifies the hydrogen cyanide converting it to harmless state.)

In human, HCN is detoxified with rhodanase forming a goiterogenic compound thiocyanate which is excreted in urine. This process requires sulphur donors such as dietary sulfur containing amino acid.
The major reactions involved in detoxification of ingested cyanide include:
Reaction with cysteine to form Iminothiozilidine compound that is excreted through saliva and urine.
Minor amounts may be converted into formic acid and excreted in urine.
Cyanide may combine with hydroxyl cobalamine and excreted in urine and bile.
Hence, the detoxification of HCN is influenced by the nutritional status such as B. vitamins like B12, folic acid and essential sulfur containing amino acids provided by dietary good quality protein.

This compound is known to limit the ability of thyroxin gland to store and process iodine. The goiteroforic effect of thiocyanate may also lead to endemic goiter. The effect of thiocyanate may also lead to endemic goiters. The effect of iodine deficiency can be devastating robbing the next generation of brain power and productivity. The impairment in thyroid function may also lead to alterations in other metabolic pathway especially lipids.
It is of worthy note to say that the method of garri production and method of consumption could determine the extent of cyanide toxicity from garri. The most common effect noticed in our day-long consumption of garri (i.e. drinking form) has always been headaches, eyes irritation, breathing difficulties and depressed heart rate. Garri processing should therefore include at least 30 hours fermentation and adequate heat during frying of the garri product, during the final production process.
However, if garri is to be consumed in a form of snacks, rich source of Hydroxycarbon amine (VB) should be included milk a cheap source of vitamin B12. These precautions would however, go a long way in preserving the brains of our next generation and also reduce the risk of thyroidism or goiter.

Article credited to Victor Moses.



Ever wondered why a patient bleeding from a fatal accident might likely die and on the other hand, when we get bruised because of handling a sharp object we bleed for a while and feel nothing has happened? This is because the body uses two mechanism in handling blood outlet. This post this more on that.

Most of the essential control systems of the body operate by negative feedback control system averaging about a thousand in the body. The most intricate which is the genetic control systems operating in all cells to help control intracellular function as well as extracellular function.

Other control systems operate within the organs to control functions of the individual parts of the organs; others operate throughout the entire body to control the interrelation between the organs. For instance, the respiratory system, operating in association with the nervous system regulates the concentration of carbon dioxide in the extracellular fluid. The liver and pancreas regulate the concentration of glucose in the extracellular fluid, and the kidneys regulate the concentration of hydrogen, sodium, potassium, phosphate and other ions in the extracellular fluid.
While negative feedback usually result in stability, positive feedback on the other hand leads to instability and could lead to death hence it’s name viscous cycle.

An example of positive feedback is BLEEDING. An average pumping rate of a healthy heart is 5liters of blood per minute. Upon puncturing of the blood vessels which lead to excessive bleeding of about 2 liters, the amount of blood in the body is decreased to a low level such that there is not enough blood available for the heart to pump effectively. As a result, the arterial pressure falls, and the flow of blood to the heart muscle through the coronary vessels diminishes resulting in weakening of the heart, further diminished pumping, a further decrease in coronary blood flow, and still more weakness of the heart; the cycle repeats itself again and again until death occurs.

Each cycyle of the feedback results in further weakening of the heart in other words initiating stimulus causing more of the same which is termed Positive feedback it is better known as visciuos cycle but a mild degree of positive feedback can be overcome by the negative feedback mechanism leading to the termination of the viscous cycle.

If the individual were to bleed just 1liter out of the 5liters blood pumped per a minute, the normal negative feedback mechanisms for controlling cardiac output and arterial pressure would overbalance the positive feedback leading to recovering.
Source: Medical Physiology Guyton and Hall

So there you have it, remember to share the know with your friends.

Inducing factors of Obesity

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.
Obesity is generally caused by over-eating and inactivity or lack of exercise to burn off calories. It is one of the leading causes of other chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis amongst others.
Several surveys conducted at one point or the other has revealed a scary statistics of obese people. For example, a survey conducted in the 1970s was conducted also in 2004 and it was found to have doubled.
One leading cause of obesity is the consumption of junk food. Overwhelming increase in population, low-incomes and food insecurity, people can be especially vulnerable due to the additional risk-factors associated with inadequate resources and under-resourced communities.
Generally, there ought to be a balance between calorie intake and energy expenditure in our body just like homeostasis, the maintaining of a stable equilibrium between interdependent elements especially as maintained by physiological processes, there ought to be an expenditure of calories as they are ingested into the body. But in the advent, for whatsoever reason, the cycle is not completed it leads to serious complication in the body. According to ‘if a person eats more calories than he or she burns (metabolizes), the person gains weight (the body will store the excess energy as fat). If a person, the most common causes of obesity are over-eating and physical inactivity’.
Recent findings in science have revealed the role of genes amongst other factors as the leading cause of obesity. Most of us have settled into sedentary lifestyles and have trouble resisting the temptations of cheap, plentiful food our culture served up.
Major factors that induces obesity includes Genetics, Metabolism, environment, behaviour and culture.

Genetics: The physiological processes involved in the regulation of food intake, i.e., sending of signals to the brain are usually affected by the gene one carries. For example, leptin a hormone produced in fat cells and also in the placenta. It controls weight by signalling the brain to et less when body ft stores are too high. If there is a deficiency in the production of leptin, it result in storage of fat in the body and leads to overweight in the individual. Generally, if one or both parent are obese, there is a likelihood one might be obese.

Overeating: overeating which is one the major factors obesity leads to weight gain especially when it is high in fat. Foods high in fat or sugar (for example fast food, fried food and sweet) have high energy density.

Inactivity: without exercising, calories are stored in the body as fat which could lead other diseases.

Psychological factors: eating excessively as a result of one’s emotion may lead to overfeeding which consequently leads to overweight.


Sleep disorders medically known as Somnipathy is a disorder in sleep pattern in a person. It has the ability to interfere with normal physical, mental, social and emotional functioning of a person. Disruptions in sleep can be caused by a variety of issues from teeth grinding (bruxism) to night terrors, inability to fall asleep and frequent waking up at night. It generally causes tiredness, fatigue, irritation and difficult in concentration.

Hypersomnias i.e. Trouble staying awake-excessive daytime sleepiness: majorly caused by insufficient sleep, medications, sleep apnea (central or obstructive), and narcolepsy.
Sleep Apnea: it is a condition in which patients periodically stop breathing while asleep. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Majorly caused by temporary obstruction of the upper airway. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common medical cause of excessive daytime somnolence.
Insomnia (Trouble sleeping): Insomnia is the complaint of difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep, or walking feeling unrefreshed and lethargic. It can be caused by jet lag, stress and anxiety, hormones, or digestive problems, or it can be a sign of another disease or condition.
Sleep paralysis: Being unable to talk or move for a brief period when falling asleep or waking up.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an inexplicable urge to move your legs, sometimes with a tingling sensation.

Other causes of sleep disturbance include allergies and colds, snoring, frequent urination, etc.

According to Wikipedia, Polysomnography and actigraphy are tests commonly ordered for some sleep disorders. But for proper diagnosis it begins with using sleep diaries and perhaps sleeps studies.
Also, electroencephalogram (EEG), genetic blood testing in the rare case of narcolepsy (unpredictable bouts of falling asleep) may be used for diagnosis of sleep disorder.
Treatment of sleep disturbances includes using sleeping pills, melatonin supplements, breathing device or surgery to address sleep apnea, weight loss, psychotherapy, decreasing stress and anxiety, etc.

Source: Lecture note, Wikipedia

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Fingernails. Photo credit flickr

It is a common thing today to see young people especially the feminine gender keeping long nails in the name of beauty. While that maybe fashionable, it is an open invitation to bacteria to dwell in there hence causing diseases. Long nails not only house these harmful organisms but have the tendency of spreading them when there is an open cut. Fingernails are basically composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin-which grow from the area at the base of the nail under the cuticle. Sometimes, fingernails develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail.
About the condition of the nails, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist, who is a doctor who studies and treats skin disease, especially when these signs listed below are evident:
Discolouration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail
Appearance of curled nails or change in shape of the nails
Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin
Bleeding around nails
Swelling or pain around the nails
However, recent study conducted by the Infectious Disease Society of America ascertain the fact that nails that are longer than three millimetres beyond the tip of the finger carry harmful bacteria and yeast under them. It went further to suggest that improper washing of nails doesn’t eradicate bacteria under the nails, i.e., people do not wash their hands well enough to get rid of all the germs under their nails. It is advisable for people to spend at least spend 15 seconds in washing of their hands and cleaning underneath their nails to get rid of the unseen germs.
Reason for this advice is not farfetched, our hands come in contact with hundreds of object everyday from the smallest book in the shelf to read to the biggest fry pan in the kitchen to cook, the floor in contact with our feet and we tend to them when relaxing. Long nails have the potential to cause a number of health problems since it’s a breeding place for germs and dirt to stay. Even health experts are of the opinion that nails should be trimmed short and kept clean. Below are reasons why long nails could be harmful to one’s health:
Injury could occur when nails get caught in zippers, windows or any of such objects
Straining of one’s finger when trying to type with longer fingernails. More so, texts are typed slower with long nails.
Easy entry of bacteria into one’s body when infected hands are used to eat food without proper washing.
When scratching your skin, you can unconsciously injure your skin and if the nail contains bacteria or any of such organisms, it could lead to ill health.
Difficulty in gripping anything especially because there is an endeavour not to break the nails.
It’s worthwhile to remind ourselves what we learnt in primary and secondary school especially in Home Economics class, as we are constantly reminded that health is wealth. Hence, maintaining of one’s nail is a proven method of preserving one’s health. For those who can’t resist keeping long nails, here are some tips to help maintain your nails:
Avoid using your nails to open object, it could scrape off a part of the nail, making it sharp and dangerous.
Ensure you wear gloves cooking, proper cleaning and washing of the nails to prevent germs from collecting under your fingernails.
Avoid biting nails; it could be an easy route for bacteria into the body. Also it is a bad habit.
Clean your nail beds and cuticles often and use sanitizer regularly
Nutritional diet containing Calcium, proteins and Vitamins should be taken to keep your nails healthy.
In summary, it’s important to remind ourselves ways of keeping our nails looking at their best:
1. Keep fingernails dry and clean: This prevent bacteria from growing under your fingernails. Repeated or prolonged contact wit water can contribute to split fingernails
2. Practice good nail hygiene: use a manicure scissors or chippers to trim your nails
3. Use moisturizer: when using hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles
4. Apply a protective layer: applying a nail hardener might help strengthen your nails
5. Ask your doctor about biotin: some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.

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“You had better start jogging” concluded Ellen Goodman in her book “Being a Secretary can be Hazardous to your health” an expos of the average working class woman’s life activities and how it is hampering her life and that of her nuclear fa


Exercise Photo credit shutter

Stress! Apart from anxiety has been the leading cause of coronary disease especially among working class women in her words “In the prestigious Framingham study, Dr. Suzanne Haynes, an epidemiologist with the National Heart, lung and blood Institute, found that working women as a whole have no higher rate of heart disease than housewives. But women employed in clerical and sales occupations do. Their coronary disease rates are twice that of other women.”
Generally, occupation plays a major role in determining one’s health status. Reason being that one’s time usage, eating habit, sleeping period and host of others are all determined by it Ellen Goodman has this to say “…in short, being frustrated, dead-ended, without a feeling of control over your life is bad for your health.” Racing against time at the expense of your health could prove disastrous, activities such as jogging, cycling, sprinting, swimming; etc would help one stay in shape and prevent heart disease. “People who are physically fit have a lower risk of heart disease” – Oxford Dictionary.
Furthermore, diet lowers the risk of heart disease. For example, eating of fruit and vegetables regularly would enhance your immune system in fighting diseases. On the other hand, eating of junks, drinking of carbonated drinks would overtime lead to obesity which in turn has it toll on the heart. In the case of carbonated drinks it causes heart burn upon belching. Wrong timing of food intake, inappropriate food combination or like we were told in primary school “balanced diet”.
In all, we must bear in mind that being busy doesn’t necessary mean being productive. So, create some time for exercising the body like in the morning and think on eating properly.