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What is the difference between an acute and chronic stress response in immune system function?

The acute stress response is short-term, while the chronic stress response is long-term.

The acute stress response is a short-term reaction to a stressor, such as a sudden danger or threat. This response is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones activate the immune system, increasing the production of white blood cells and enhancing their function. This response is beneficial in the short-term, as it helps the body to fight off infections and heal wounds.

In contrast, the chronic stress response is a long-term reaction to ongoing stressors, such as chronic illness or social isolation. This response is also mediated by the sympathetic nervous system and the HPA axis, but it leads to prolonged elevation of stress hormones, which can have negative effects on the immune system. Chronic stress can suppress the immune system, reducing the production and function of white blood cells, and increasing the risk of infections, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

Overall, while the acute stress response can enhance immune function in the short-term, chronic stress can have detrimental effects on the immune system. It is important to manage stress levels and seek support when dealing with chronic stressors to maintain a healthy immune system.

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