Psychological Stress and Upper Respiratory Illness
This chapter provides a brief introduction to the various ways stress has been conceptualized in psychobiological and health studies. Neither the pathogenesis of infection nor the relevant immune defenses is well understood for any of the more than 200 distinct viruses known to infect the human upper respiratory tract. The chapter presents a summary and recommendations for future research. The multitude of different upper respiratory viruses all typically cause a strikingly consistent constellation of symptoms including rhinorrhea, nasal obstruction, sneezing, pharyngeal discomfort, and cough, which are familiar to all of us as a common cold. Psychological stress has been shown, for example, to affect antibody response to vaccination. Life event stress interacted with family routine such that those children with high stress and strong family routines had more severe illnesses than other children.