Is It Anxiety Or Asthma
Did you know that as many as 40 million adults in the U.S. experience anxiety, while 25 million suffer from asthma? Unfortunately, anxiety can trigger asthma symptoms, which makes it difficult to distinguish the two. Consequently, it is important that you understand the relation between the two and how to tell the difference between anxiety and asthma.
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Life With Asthma & anxiety
An underlying health issue, such as asthma, can trigger anxiety and vice versa. In fact, many people with asthma will experience panic attacks during an episode, as an exacerbation feels suffocating. For some, even the thought of future asthma attacks is enough to cause anxiety. The common factor of both conditions? Stress. When you experience stress, the body releases hormones that launch adrenalinepicking up your heart rate and triggering shallow, gasping breaths. When those with asthma experience anxiety-induced stress, changes in normal breathing patterns become a concern and often lead to asthma attacks. The solution for managing both conditions comes down to learning how to manage your stress.
Asthma Attack Triggers And How To Prevent Them
If youve ever had an asthma attack, you know how scary it can be when your chest tightens, making it difficult to take breaths between coughing. These are just some of the symptoms that characterize an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things, making it all the more frightening when you suddenly cant breathe.
Understanding what triggers your asthma is the first step toward preventing an asthma attack. Well explain what you need to know about common asthma attack triggers, so you can do your best to prevent symptoms from interrupting your everyday life.
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How To Prevent An Asthma Attack
Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.
Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.
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Asthma Attacks Vs Panic Attacks
If you have both asthma and an anxiety disorder, it can be hard to tell the difference between an asthma attack and a panic attack. Both cause a feeling of tightness in your chest and difficulty breathing, but wheezing and coughing are typically only associated with asthma attacks. Panic attacks can also cause you to hyperventilate and take in too much oxygen, while asthma attacks significantly decrease your oxygen intake.
Because stress is such a common asthma trigger, living with both an anxiety disorder and asthma can often feel like a vicious cycle. A mental health professional can help you find effective ways to manage stress and reduce the likelihood of a stress-induced asthma attack.
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What Happens If An Asthma Attack Is Not Treated
Without immediate asthma medication and asthma treatment, an asthma attack may become more severe. Your breathing may become more labored, and wheezing may get louder. If you use a peak flow meter during an asthma attack, your reading will probably be less than your personal best
Without treatment, your lungs will continue to tighten during the asthma attack and you may be unable to use the peak flow meter at all. Gradually, your lungs may tighten so much during the asthma attack that there isnt enough air movement to produce wheezing. This is called silent chest and it is a dangerous sign.
If you do not receive adequate treatment for an asthma attack, you may eventually be unable to speak and can develop a bluish coloring around your lips. This change of color is the result of oxygen deprivation in your blood. Without immediate aggressive treatment in an emergency room or intensive care unit, you may lose consciousness and eventually die.
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Who Is Most At Risk
Emotions dont trigger asthma symptoms for everyone, all of the time. But youre more at risk at times when your emotions are strongest.
This could be when youre stressed about something like work or exams, have had a fright, or are excited about a wedding, birthday or holiday.
Some people are more at risk of having their asthma symptoms triggered by their emotions:
People whose asthma is flaring up
If your asthma symptoms are bad, youre more at risk from all triggers, including strong emotions.
You might notice your symptoms, like tightness in your chest, breathlessness and coughing and wheezing are getting worse, and you may be waking at night because of your asthma. Find out if what to do if your symptoms are getting worse.
When your asthma is well managed, you should be symptom-free, shouldnt notice your asthma, and youll need your reliever inhaler rarely, if at all. See our advice about managing your asthma better.
Strong emotional reactions like laughing and crying could trigger asthma symptoms in children.
Parents and carers often tell us theyre worried about their child around birthdays and Christmas, because theyve had asthma symptoms around these exciting events in the past.
In teenagers, the part of the brain linked to managing emotions isnt fully developed, so they have less control over their emotions.
How Are Asthma Attacks Related To Stress And Anxiety Diagnosed
It is sometimes very hard to conclude whether the asthma attack occurred due to a stressful event or the stress and anxiety resulted from the asthma attack itself. In some cases, there is a vicious circle in which stress induces an asthma attack, which then produces more intense stress, thus making the symptoms even worse.
The most important step in the diagnosis of the stress induced asthma attack is a detailed anamnesis, which can be taken by the patient or persons who were around when the attack had started. Parents should follow the situations in which their children experience asthma attacks, and report that to the doctor.
The triggers that can lead to asthma attacks can be short or long-term, and they include:
- Acute stress
- Basically anything else that can cause stress
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Asthma Symptoms Linked To Increased Stress Anxiety Levels In Teens
- Henry Ford Health System
- Common asthma symptoms like waking up in the middle of the night and shortness of breath are associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety in teens with asthma. In a small study of 38 asthma patients ages 14-17, researchers found that their average scores for stress and anxiety levels were higher than those seen in the general population.
A Henry Ford Hospital study has found that common asthma symptoms like waking up in the middle of the night and shortness of breath are associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety in teens with asthma.
In a small study of 38 asthma patients ages 14-17, researchers found that their average scores for stress and anxiety levels were higher than those seen in the general population.
Researchers suggest the findings are a red flag for physicians of young asthma patients.
Because these patients may be particularly vulnerable to stress and anxiety, this information can be helpful to physicians as they counsel their patients about the importance of managing their asthma, says Cathryn Luria, M.D., a Henry Ford fellow and the studys lead author.
While we found a link between asthma symptoms and stress and anxiety, its not clear which came first the symptoms or the stress and anxiety. More study is needed to determine that.
The study is being presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunologys annual meeting.
Can I Use An Inhaler For Anxiety
While it may not be a primary method for dealing with anxiety, using a rescue inhaler is an option for dealing with an anxiety attack. Talk with your doctor before doing so.
What is Aluna?
Aluna is an innovative, scientifically-accurate, and portable spirometer cleared by the FDA.
This device and management program is designed to help adults and children, 5 years and up, monitor their lung function and take control of their respiratory health.
Aluna automatically tracks your FEV1% over time. You can also monitor your symptoms, medication, exercise, and environmental factors.
With the Aluna app, you can easily
Aluna is seeking to shed light on asthma and other lung diseases by providing accurate and reliable data for healthcare providers and patients.
Be sure to ask your healthcare professional about Aluna and how this device can benefit you.
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How To Manage Your Asthma
Stress and anxiety are actually asthma triggers. However, since asthma can trigger anxiety, it is best if you avoid other asthma triggers so you can prevent attacks from any source. Common asthma triggers include exercise, smoke, allergies, pets, dust, mold, and more.
Take care of your asthma by doing the following things.
Its Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
If you suffer from asthma, you know that the feeling of not being able to breathe is very frightening.
For some people, asthma and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Its often difficult to unravel the connections between the two. Thats because both conditions cause similar symptoms, especially shortness of breath.
You might experience anxiety about when your next asthma attack will occur. The stress of an asthma attack can even lead to a panic attack.
If you know what triggers your asthma or anxiety symptoms, you can take steps to reduce the frequency of attacks and maybe even prevent them.
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What Are The Different Types Of Asthmatic Bronchitis
Asthmatic is the swelling of small airways inside the lung causing cough and breathlessness. Bronchial is separated into allergic and nonallergic asthma according to its respective triggers.
- Allergic asthma: Symptoms are triggered by an allergic reaction, which means that the of the affected person reacts more intensely than necessary often to a harmless substance. Allergic asthma often initially presents in early childhood and adolescence and is often due to a hereditary predisposition.
- Intrinsic asthma: Initially presents at the age of 30-40 years and is caused by different factors. Triggers may include respiratory tract infections, genetic incompatibility with certain medications, or chemical or toxic substances from the environment
- As with special forms of bronchial asthma, asthma is also prevalent in severely women. Specific characteristics also are associated with asthma in smokers.
Depending on severity:
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Yes Including Other Strong Emotions
Response from Lorene Alba, AE-C:
Anxiety, along with other strong emotions can trigger asthma. Strong emotions can include anxiety, stress, fear, excitement, crying and even laughing too hard, and they often cause asthma symptoms. This does not mean, however, that asthma is all in your head or psychosomatic. Asthma is a real, physical disease. Managing and reducing your stress, just like your other triggers such as dust mites or cigarette smoke, is key to managing your asthma. Try belly or pursed-lip breathing to reduce stress and anxiety.
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Anxiety And Asthma Can Trigger Each Other
Response from Lyn Harper, MPA, BSRT, RRT:
Although anxiety doesnt cause asthma, it can certainly worsen symptoms. In fact, the two conditions can actually make each other worse. Any strong emotions can have an effect on our respiratory system and our airways and particularly so when a person has hypersensitive airways, as is the case with asthma. Strong emotions can trigger a chemical response in the body that may release histamine and leukotrienes both of which can trigger narrowing of airways. Stress and anxiety can also weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to viruses and illnesses that in turn lead to asthma problems.
So, if you have asthma its important to reduce anxiety as much as possible. You would certainly want to discuss options with your doctor. They may suggest an anti-anxiety medication that can be taken regularly or only when needed depending on the severity and frequency of your anxiety. If you decide to try a natural remedy, of which there are plenty, you would also want to speak to your doctor to determine what may or may not interfere with medications you already take.
Asthma Can Also Cause Anxiety
It’s also important to note that asthma can actually cause anxiety as well – which in turn may further exacerbate the asthma. Asthma and shortness of breath are common triggers of panic attacks, and the general dangers and stress of the asthma experience can play a very strong triggering role in the development of long term anxiety issues.
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Treating A Child Who Is Having An Asthma Attack
Take your child to the ER if you notice these symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing. This includes needing to sit up because they cant breathe lying down, gasping or gulping for air, or having trouble taking a complete breath.
- Breathing with the muscles of their stomach, ribs, and neck. The muscles may look like theyre pulling inwards. It means that they are having to work extra hard to breathe.
- Wheezing constantly, even after taking their rescue medications listed on their asthma action plan.
- Lips or fingernails turning blue.
- Seeming more drowsy than normal. For example, they might fall asleep while playing. Or babies doze off feedings.
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How To Control Asthma When You Have Anxiety
Asthma is still a separate condition, and as such it is treated separately. Continue to take medications as directed by your doctor, and keep your emergency inhaler on hand just in case. Although there are links between anxiety and asthma, you’ll still need to control your asthma just as you would if you didnt have anxiety.
But you can also look for ways to manage your anxiety. If you’re able to get your anxiety under control, you should be able to weaken the likelihood of asthma flares. In other words, if youre less anxious, youll be better equipped to cope with your asthma.
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Negative Emotions And Stressful Events
In one experiment, researchers measured lung function while people looked at pictures. They found that people who looked at pictures of catastrophes, injuries, and disgusting things had a harder time breathing. Later, this group of people rated their mood 3 times per day for 3 weeks and measured their lung function with a peak flow meter.3
This study was very small, but it showed that negative emotions can cause lung function to decrease. These results were true for people with and without asthma, but lung function went down more in people with asthma.3
In some studies, having recently had a serious life event was linked to asthma attacks in children and hospital admission for adults.4,5 However, not all studies have found this link. A large study in Europe showed that job strain did not increase the risk of severe asthma attacks.6
One theory is that mood plays a role in how people perceive their symptoms. Interestingly, after a negative experience, everyonewith and without asthmareports having more respiratory symptoms.7
Can Panic Attacks Lead To Asthma
Whether or not a panic attack triggers your asthma primarily depends on what type of asthma you suffer from. If you mostly experience asthma symptoms during allergy season, you are more likely to react to pollen than to anxiety. Likewise, exercise-induced asthma tends to flare up during periods of rigorous physical exertion.
That said, many people suffer from anxiety-induced asthma, which occurs when you have difficulty catching your breath due to overwhelming panic. The inability to draw in oxygen causes your airways to constrict and makes it even more difficult to take a breath. Likewise, the more difficult it is to take a breath, the harder you panic. This unfortunate cycle is extremely frightening if you havent taken steps to prepare for it. Fortunately, if you are prone to panic attacks, you can be on guard against panic-induced asthma attacks.
Stress Test And Cortisol Collection At Age 16 Years
At age 16 years, 715 adolescents performed a stress test, based on the Trier Social Stress Task . The stress test consisted of two parts. In the first part, the adolescents were instructed to prepare a 6-min speech about themselves and their lives and deliver this speech in front of a video camera. The speech was followed by a 3-min interlude in which the adolescents were not allowed to speak. In the second part, adolescents were asked to perform a 6-min mental arithmetic task. The adolescents were instructed to repeatedly subtract the number 17 from a larger sum, starting with 13 287. The mental arithmetic task was followed by a 3-min period of silence, after which the adolescents were debriefed about the experiment. Adolescents with a high risk of mental health problems were over-represented in this population .
Cortisol was assessed from saliva collected prior to the stress test , directly after , and 20 minutes and 40 minutes after the stress test . Non-responders did not differ from responders in terms of sex non-responders were slightly older .