Stress Physiology Practice Questions with Answers and NCLEX® Review

Although it has a negative connotation, stress can be either good or bad for health. It’s good when it makes us adapt to changes in our body and environment, but bad when it becomes chronic or persistent and doesn’t allow for any time to relax.

Stress Physiology Practice Questions with Answers

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    Introduction to Stress

    Stress is caused by any life stressors, including nursing school. It raises blood pressure, strains the body, and makes thinking more difficult. 

    As nurses, we can identify the resources available in our communities and refer clients to counseling when necessary.

    Stress Physiology

    The stress response is initiated when the hypothalamus detects danger. This triggers an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as an increase in the release of certain hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. 

    These changes prepare the body for fight or flight, which helps us deal with emergencies by increasing our ability to react quickly. The body also produces more white blood cells to help fight infection. 

    However, stress is a major factor in many health problems. This is why nurses often notice that their patients become more susceptible to illness during times of intense stress, such as during an illness or surgery.

    It’s important for nurses to know about the body’s stress response to treat patients in a way that respects the body’s natural response and doesn’t interfere with it unnecessarily.

    Physiologic manifestations of stress include:

    • Increased blood pressure
    • Decreased gastrointestinal motility
    • Increase in respiration rate
    • Increased heart rate
    • Muscle tension
    • Increased sweating

    Signs and Symptoms of Stress

    • Changes in appetite
    • Aches and pain
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Chest pain and/or tightness
    • GI upset
    • Exhaustion
    • Decreased immunity
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    Central Nervous System vs Peripheral Nervous System

    The central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are two of the most essential systems in your body. The CNS includes the brain and spinal cord, while the PNS extends to all body parts.

    Central Nervous System (CNS)

    The CNS is what you usually think of when you hear “nervous system.” It’s the command center of your body’s nervous system, as it controls the mind’s and body’s main functions.

    It’s essentially what makes you, you. 

    Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

    The PNS contains nerves coming from the brain and spinal cord to all network body parts.

    It’s more like an extension cord that extends from your brain to your limbs and organs, so that when you tell your arm to move, it can move. 

    Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

    The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is part of the peripheral nervous system that controls body functions that aren’t under conscious control.

    The ANS comprises two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems

    The sympathetic system is activated by stress, resulting in creased blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. The parasympathetic system activates when at rest, resulting in slowed heart rate and blood pressure, while increasing digestion.

    Sympathetic Nervous System

    The sympathetic nervous system is a part of the peripheral nervous system and regulates many of the body’s internal systems. It’s also known as the fight-or-flight response because it controls emotions and physical reactions to stress.

    Parasympathetic Nervous System

    The parasympathetic nervous system is all about rest and digest. It can be considered an accelerator for the rest of your body, helping to slow down all of its functions when you’re tired or relaxed.

    The parasympathetic nervous system works with the sympathetic nervous system to keep the body balanced. They work together to control how organs function and respond to stimuli.

    Somatic Nervous System

    The somatic nervous system (SNS) contains sensory (afferent) and motor (efferent) nerves to perform reflex actions.

    It’s the part of the peripheral nervous system that controls skeletal muscles. The SNS is responsible for voluntary movements and activities like breathing, chewing, and blinking the eyes.

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