11 ways post-traumatic stress disorder can affect your body

Hypertension
Checking blood pressure.

People with PTSD may experience muscle and joint aches.

Body ache
A woman holds her shoulder.

According to PTSD UK, muscle pain is a common symptom of PTSD. “[The] anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often comes with PTSD can increase the tension you put on your muscles and joints in general,” the organization’s website says.

Dr. Michael Murphy, the medical director of River Oaks Treatment Center in Florida, added, “Much like the immune system reacts to a virus and causes damage, the brain can overreact and stay in a perpetual state of hyperarousal and fear that can lead to a cascade of symptoms.”

It may also cause inflammation in organs and gastric issues.

stomach pain
Stomach pain.

Murphy said that inescapable trauma can result in heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol and pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. This can cause organ inflammation. 

“There’s multiple organ systems that can be affected by the chemicals that are produced when someone is stressed,” Murphy said. “When these [hormones and chemicals] are left in a chronically elevated state, they can do subtle damage to the body over time.”

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, in which researchers examined 4,076 Danish participants who had PTSD over a 16-year period, there is an association between the disorder and the development of gastric disorders, like ulcers. People with PTSD were at a 25% higher risk of developing a gastric disorder.

There may be a correlation between PTSD and migraines.

Migraine
A migraine in action.

According to Psychology Today, a 2015 study published in Neurology found a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and migraine headaches. The rates of migraines were higher in those who experienced adverse childhood experiences versus other forms of abuse.

According to research by the National Institutes of Health, 69% of participants who had both episodic migraines and PTSD reported experiencing symptoms of the disorder before the on-set of a headache. According to Very Well Mind, why people with PTSD experience migraines isn’t exactly known, but it may be due to the high levels of stress and emotional strain they experience.

PTSD can lead to substance abuse problems, which can worsen a person’s health in many ways.

substance abuse
Alcohol can be a form of self-medication.

“There’s higher rates of substance use in people who have had trauma,” Murphy said. “And substance use itself can do damage to the body, and so for some people, it’s a double problem in terms of the trauma itself causing hyperarousal and hormone imbalances, and the substance then exacerbating it.”

Murphy said people with PTSD may start using substances like alcohol or sedatives to self-medicate from symptoms of the disorder, but over time they become more dependent on them, which can damage their bodies in myriad ways.

People with PTSD may be at risk for hypertension, which can increase one’s risk of a heart attack.

Hypertension
Checking blood pressure.

Murphy said people with PTSD, or who had adverse childhood experiences, are at risk for hypertension or high blood pressure. 

“They lead to elevations in chemicals in the body and hormones that are associated with a fight or flight response, and that leads to some damage to blood vessels in the body,” he said. “That can make people more likely to have a heart attack or stroke — even decades later. It may also increase the risk of certain types of cancer,” he continued.

According to Premier Health, people with PTSD were at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke because their blood vessels don’t expand as they normally should.

They are also at risk of having a stroke.

Stroke
Reading scans.

According to a 2019 study by the American Heart Association, researchers examined 987,855 young and middle-aged veterans over a 13-year period and found a link between PTSD and ischemic strokes — they found a significant increase in risk of a stroke among those who had PTSD. 

Symptoms caused by PTSD may leave people more susceptible to illnesses like the coronavirus.

coronavirus testing
A nurse administers a COVID-19 test.

Murphy said people who have hypertension may be more susceptible to serious complications with diseases like the coronavirus.

“I think with the COVID-19 virus specifically, it’s less that your immune system is more vulnerable and more that, for many of the people with serious complications, there’s been chronic damage to their blood vessels over time,” Murphy said.

There may be a correlation between PTSD and obesity.

fast food
Eating fast food has been linked to obesity.

According to the National Institutes of Health, PTSD has been linked to obesity, as well as metabolic dysfunction. Studies suggest this may be due to stress hormones and disrupted circadian rhythms affecting the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis” in the brain.

Metabolic dysfunction and stress can change consumptive behaviors, which can lead to an increased consumption of foods with high calorie content.

 

Studies have shown a potential link between type 2 diabetes and PTSD.

diabetes fingerprick test strips glucose blood sugar
A man checks his blood sugar.

According to research by Science Daily, PTSD is associated with an increased of type 2 diabetes. Possible causes include a higher prevalence of obesity, glucose deregulation, inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and depression. 

According to research by the National Institutes of Health, women who have PTSD were at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who had no exposure to trauma. 

People with PTSD may have insomnia or trouble sleeping.

insomnia sleep phone in bed
Insomnia.

“Sometimes people have trauma associated with nighttime,” Murphy said. “Going to sleep and being unsafe, meaning being unconscious, is scary — so they avoid going to sleep.”

People with PTSD are also prone to having nightmares, making going to sleep frightening for that reason, as well.

The lack of sleep, coupled with other PTSD symptoms, can lead to feeling fatigued or tired the next day or even longer.

man on computer tired
Feeling tired can impact your food and productivity.

People with PTSD may experience fatigue due to an overload of their adrenal system, which produces the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline.

Researchers from the CDC found an association between stress, childhood trauma, and chronic fatigue syndrome in adults. Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by unexplained fatigue that lasts for at least six months. According to the 2006 study, chronic fatigue syndrome “may result from the brain’s inability to cope with challenging experiences.”

Recovery from PTSD includes addressing both mental and physical symptoms.

PTSD
Two family members hold hands.

“They will never completely recover to the person they would have been had they not been traumatized,” Murphy said. “They just need to adapt to a new reality for them.”

Family members of people with PTSD should be patient but also present for their loved ones, Murphy said. Realizing physical symptoms is also important when it comes to treatment. 

“I think it cannot be stressed enough that there is a mind-body connection,” Murphy said. “I think that people have often thought of trauma as a psychological phenomenon, and they have to realize that every psychological experience has an impact on your body whether it’s positive or negative.”

You can learn more about PTSD, including symptoms and diagnosis, here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

We’ve been wrong about how insulin has to be stored, and a new approach could revolutionize diabetes treatment for millions of people

Mohamed test
Mohamed Hussein Bule, 27, who teaches science at a refugee camp in Kenya.

  • For people living with diabetes in the developing world, a lack of electricity can hamper access to insulin. 

  • But a project in Kenya has shown that insulin can be maintained in hot climates without refrigeration.
  • Researchers, calling it a breakthrough, are urging the World Health Organization to amend its guidelines. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For people living with diabetes in the developing world, getting daily life-sustaining doses of insulin has gone hand in hand with access to electricity.

Once a vial is opened, manufacturers recommend storing it in a refrigerator until it expires, which is usually after four weeks. But an estimated 470 million people around the world who don’t have access to electricity and fridges for food and medicine, making it difficult to store insulin at home.

But now, a new program could help revolutionize treatments around the world. 

It started at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, where temperatures can reach up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit and many have no access to refrigeration. As a consequence, patients’ lives have practically revolved around going to and from the hospital to receive insulin. Having diabetes could mean missing school, work, especially since the camp’s curfew restricts when it’s possible to make the trek.

When doctors working in the camp noticed more and more patients coming to the hospital with complications from their diabetes, they reached out to researchers at the University of Geneva and decided to monitor at-home insulin storage at the camp, which experienced much warmer temperatures than label recommendations. 

Researchers replicated the camp’s daily temperature, which ranged from 77 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, in the lab, and tested the insulin’s effectiveness. They also studied leftover insulin from vials that patients had used after storing them in their homes.

They discovered that even without refrigeration, insulin kept at the camp’s tropical temperatures was safe to use for four weeks – a revelation that could be life-changing for diabetes patients around the world. 

Following their investigation, the team adjusted the advice they were giving patients, teaching them how to self-inject, check their own blood sugar, and what danger symptoms to look out for. Most exciting of all, they showed patients how to store the insulin at home using a plastic container with a wet towel around it.  

What followed was a dramatic drop in the number of diabetic patients coming to hospital with acute complications. They were able to go to work and school and “not spend all day seeking out healthcare to stay alive,” said Philippa Boulle, from the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders).

Even though insulin can be damaged when it’s stored at high temperatures, the researchers found that cooler temperatures overnight could keep the insulin safe.

Dadaab
Somali refugees attend market in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya.

“Every protein goes towards degradation when it’s heated, but there are proteins that can go back when you cool them down again, and insulin seems to be one of them,” Leonardo Scapozza, a professor at the University of Geneva’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and one of the researchers who worked with doctors in the Dagahaley camp, told Insider. 

At the moment, guidance says patients can store their insulin at an “‘ambient temperature’,” but Scapozza said “and hot settings” should be added for clarification. There only needs to be three words added to that: ‘and hot settings’, Scapozza says.  

He said the findings could also be applied to high-income countries such as the US, for example, when natural disasters and storms that cut off power supplies.

The researchers have done further studies to test insulin in different climates, and are helping supporting refugees in their South Sudan setting to take insulin home, too.  

Now, MSF is calling on pharmaceutical corporations to amend guidelines, and for the World Health Organization to endorse their findings.

While there have been many studies testing how stable insulin is at different temperatures, the oscillating temperature factor in this study is a “new twist,” says Gojka Roglic, a medical officer at the WHO responsible for activities on diabetes management, told Insider.

WHO won’t be making any recommendations based on this study alone, but Roglic  said it will be included in a review of all research later this year.  

Ali Bishar, who is in charge of MSF’s insulin management program at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, said education on diabetes and insulin is “paramount” to the program working.

“After they’re trained, the patients have to pass a competency test. Then they’re given their insulin and care is provided on and outside the wards,” Bashar said, adding that the program, which started in 2015, has grown from 35 to 45 patients in the last six years.

However, insulin storage is only the start of  managing diabetes in low-resource settings. Another major concern is how a poor diet can contribute to patients’ symptoms. 

“You have to have food when you inject insulin. In some settings, patients are fearful of the injection if they haven’t had a meal that day,” Boulle says.

Rahmo, who was in the first cohort of patients to start the MSF programme in 2015, told Insider that she has challenges with getting enough food and having a good diet., But regardless of her diet, Rahmo said  her health has improved. 

“Before this, I was confused about how to continue my life and if I’d survive,” she  told Insider through an interpreter.  “Today, I’m very happy to control my diabetes at home.” 

Mohamed Hussein Bule, 27, a refugee from Somalia who works as a teacher at a primary school in Dagahaley, enrolled in the MSF program in 2015. 

He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2014 after his weight plummeted from 150 pounds to 82 pounds, but since joining the program his weight is back up to about 143 pounds.

“I was supposed to pick up insulin at the hospital early in the morning to take home, then go to work. I was missing a lot of classes. Now, I take a vial in the morning and record my glucose, and continue with the program as my day continues,” he said. 

“I don’t even feel like a patient with diabetes now. I’m very glad to be on the program.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new approach for handling insulin could revolutionize diabetes treatment for millions of people

Mohamed test
Mohamed Hussein Bule, 27, who teaches science at a refugee camp in Kenya.

  • For people living with diabetes in the developing world, a lack of electricity can hamper access to insulin. 

  • But a project in Kenya has shown that insulin can be maintained in hot climates without refrigeration.
  • Researchers, calling it a breakthrough, are urging the World Health Organization to amend its guidelines. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For people living with diabetes in the developing world, getting daily life-sustaining doses of insulin has gone hand in hand with access to electricity.

Once a vial is opened, manufacturers recommend storing it in a refrigerator until it expires, which is usually after four weeks. But an estimated 470 million people around the world who don’t have access to electricity and fridges for food and medicine, making it difficult to store insulin at home.

But now, a new program could help revolutionize treatments around the world. 

It started at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, where temperatures can reach up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit and many have no access to refrigeration. As a consequence, patients’ lives have practically revolved around going to and from the hospital to receive insulin. Having diabetes could mean missing school, work, especially since the camp’s curfew restricts when it’s possible to make the trek.

When doctors working in the camp noticed more and more patients coming to the hospital with complications from their diabetes, they reached out to researchers at the University of Geneva and decided to monitor at-home insulin storage at the camp, which experienced much warmer temperatures than label recommendations. 

Researchers replicated the camp’s daily temperature, which ranged from 77 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, in the lab, and tested the insulin’s effectiveness. They also studied leftover insulin from vials that patients had used after storing them in their homes.

They discovered that even without refrigeration, insulin kept at the camp’s tropical temperatures was safe to use for four weeks – a revelation that could be life-changing for diabetes patients around the world. 

Following their investigation, the team adjusted the advice they were giving patients, teaching them how to self-inject, check their own blood sugar, and what danger symptoms to look out for. Most exciting of all, they showed patients how to store the insulin at home using a plastic container with a wet towel around it.  

What followed was a dramatic drop in the number of diabetic patients coming to hospital with acute complications. They were able to go to work and school and “not spend all day seeking out healthcare to stay alive,” said Philippa Boulle, from the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders).

Even though insulin can be damaged when it’s stored at high temperatures, the researchers found that cooler temperatures overnight could keep the insulin safe.

Dadaab
Somali refugees attend market in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya.

“Every protein goes towards degradation when it’s heated, but there are proteins that can go back when you cool them down again, and insulin seems to be one of them,” Leonardo Scapozza, a professor at the University of Geneva’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and one of the researchers who worked with doctors in the Dagahaley camp, told Insider. 

At the moment, guidance says patients can store their insulin at an “‘ambient temperature’,” but Scapozza said “and hot settings” should be added for clarification. There only needs to be three words added to that: ‘and hot settings’, Scapozza says.  

He said the findings could also be applied to high-income countries such as the US, for example, when natural disasters and storms that cut off power supplies.

The researchers have done further studies to test insulin in different climates, and are helping supporting refugees in their South Sudan setting to take insulin home, too.  

Now, MSF is calling on pharmaceutical corporations to amend guidelines, and for the World Health Organization to endorse their findings.

While there have been many studies testing how stable insulin is at different temperatures, the oscillating temperature factor in this study is a “new twist,” says Gojka Roglic, a medical officer at the WHO responsible for activities on diabetes management, told Insider.

WHO won’t be making any recommendations based on this study alone, but Roglic  said it will be included in a review of all research later this year.  

Ali Bishar, who is in charge of MSF’s insulin management program at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, said education on diabetes and insulin is “paramount” to the program working.

“After they’re trained, the patients have to pass a competency test. Then they’re given their insulin and care is provided on and outside the wards,” Bashar said, adding that the program, which started in 2015, has grown from 35 to 45 patients in the last six years.

However, insulin storage is only the start of  managing diabetes in low-resource settings. Another major concern is how a poor diet can contribute to patients’ symptoms. 

“You have to have food when you inject insulin. In some settings, patients are fearful of the injection if they haven’t had a meal that day,” Boulle says.

Rahmo, who was in the first cohort of patients to start the MSF programme in 2015, told Insider that she has challenges with getting enough food and having a good diet., But regardless of her diet, Rahmo said  her health has improved. 

“Before this, I was confused about how to continue my life and if I’d survive,” she  told Insider through an interpreter.  “Today, I’m very happy to control my diabetes at home.” 

Mohamed Hussein Bule, 27, a refugee from Somalia who works as a teacher at a primary school in Dagahaley, enrolled in the MSF program in 2015. 

He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2014 after his weight plummeted from 150 pounds to 82 pounds, but since joining the program his weight is back up to about 143 pounds.

“I was supposed to pick up insulin at the hospital early in the morning to take home, then go to work. I was missing a lot of classes. Now, I take a vial in the morning and record my glucose, and continue with the program as my day continues,” he said. 

“I don’t even feel like a patient with diabetes now. I’m very glad to be on the program.”

Read the original article on Business Insider