Politics IS bad for your health: ‘Election fever’ may leave you in hospital as demand for healthcare rises by 19 per cent during polls, experts say

Election fever is gripping the nation — and it may actually leave some people in hospital, a study suggests.

Researchers found demand for healthcare services rose by up to 19 per cent among first-time voters during major election campaigns.

There was a marked increase in chest pain, acute respiratory infections, gastro-intestinal conditions and even physical injuries.

The researchers believed the illnesses were mainly due to the stress of choosing who to vote for, and anxiety from being surrounded by political ads during the election campaign.

They said the condition should be known as ‘election syndrome’ or ‘election stress disorder’.

Stress and anxiety caused by elections can land people in hospital, the researchers claim

Rishi Sunak risked catching a different type of fever by announcing the July 4 election in the pouring rain

Rishi Sunak risked catching a different type of fever by announcing the July 4 election in the pouring rain

Being relentlessly bombarded by political spin may lead to fatigue and weakened immunity, the researchers said, making voters more susceptible to infections like Covid.

Voters became more likely to pick up contagious diseases due to queues at polling booths, and some may have suffered injuries while attending crowded political rallies or protests.

Election workers were also found to die young because they work long hours and must deal with the stress of ‘disorderly or confrontational voters’.

The 2023 study, published in the journal Health Economics, looked at the health records of 900,000 people during four election periods in Taiwan.

During the country’s 2012 presidential election, there was a 30 per cent increase in anxiety attacks and related disorders dealt with by hospitals.

Healthcare spending on acute respiratory infections increased by 16.4 per cent.

And people who backed a ‘losing’ side were found to have elevated levels of cortisol — a hormone released by the body in response to stress – and depressed testosterone, causing low mood, anxiety and depression.

‘Our results suggest that campaigns during national elections increased health care use and expenditure by 17 per cent to 19 per cent,’ the researchers wrote.

‘Elevated health care use occurred only during the campaign period and did not persist after the election.’

They identified two main ‘pathways’ through which election illnesses come about: psychological stress leading to mental health problems, and participation in campaign activities that affect physical health.

On polling station staff, they explained high levels of illness and death: ‘The organization and management of elections can be challenging for election workers who often confront long working hours and disorderly or confrontational voters.’

They suggested that political parties and candidates should pay a tax from their private campaign funds to pay for the extra healthcare needed during elections.

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