Stress: A Common Factor
Stress can be a major contributor to asthma and anxiety. Studies show that stress and anxiety can trigger asthma attacks. At the same time, the wheezing and difficult breathing that you feel during an asthma attack can cause anxiety. In fact, 69 percent of people with asthma say that stress is a trigger for them, says Asthma UK.
When you experience stress, your body releases stress hormones that prepare you for fight or flight response. Your body reacts to the hormones with a faster heart rate, shallow and fast breathing and tense muscles. These changes in your normal breathing pattern can bring on an asthma attack.
Living with constant stress may also cause you to be angry or to drink or smoke more, in an effort to relax. These actions can also trigger asthma, especially if your asthma is not well managed.
Talk with your doctor about how to reduce your stress. Some actions you can take may include:
- Making time for you
- Sharing how you feel with family and friends
- Prioritizing and organizing your to-do list
If you feel more stressed than normal or if your asthma is getting worse, think about whats happening in your life.
- Are you dealing with a major life event, like getting married, buying a house or having a baby?
- Are you facing changes in your body, such as those that come with menopause?
- Is your teenager adjusting to hormonal changes or the pressure of school?
- Is your child reacting to a stressful event or dealing with constant background stress at home?
Common Asthma Attack Triggers
An asthma trigger is an irritant that causes the airways to become inflamed and constrict. Constriction of airways marks the start of an asthma attack and can cause other symptoms like wheezing.
There isnt one single trigger of asthma. What triggers an asthma attack for one person might not be the same for another. Youll know what causes an asthma attack for you if youre exposed to an irritant and have shortness of breath or start wheezing. The most common triggers are:
Make A Plan To Reduce The Stress In Your Life
Think about the different events or situations that cause you to feel stress. Write them down. This may help you better prepare for the things that you know cause stress, or make changes to avoid them altogether. If doing this kind of exercise feels overwhelming, or simply feels like too much to do on your own, engage a trusted friend, family member, member of a spiritual community, or psychotherapist to help you.
You May Like: How Does Stress Affect Parkinson’s Patients
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.
Also Check: Homemade Albuterol
What Are Good Questions To Ask About Asthma
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, it is important to learn all you can about the symptoms and treatment of it. Since this is a potentially life-changing diagnosis, take some time to discuss the following with your doctor.
- How can the risk of an asthma attack be reduced?
- How should I handle an asthma attack?
- Are there ways to monitor my asthma?
- Can an inhaler help with my asthma?
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Yourself From Stressing Out
How Can I Lower The Risk Of Stress Affecting My Asthma
Its impossible to cut out all stress from our lives. But you can lower the risk of it making your asthma worse.
Here are three top tips to help your asthma when stress is a trigger:
Stick to your asthma routine. Stress is most likely to trigger asthma symptoms if your asthma is not well managed in the first place. So, make sure youre taking your asthma medicines as prescribed, taking your inhaler correctly, going for regular asthma reviews, and using a written asthma action plan. A written asthma action plan helps you keep an eye on symptoms getting worse and reminds you what to do if you notice any.
Talk to your GP or asthma nurse. They can support you in looking after your asthma well, even when stress levels are high. For example, they may suggest you take more of your asthma medicines for a while to keep your asthma steady during times of stress. They can also signpost you to counselling and wellbeing services.
Cut down stress in your life. Find out more about how eating well, doing exercise, and connecting with others can help with stress and well-being.
Find out more about depression and asthma.
For more advice about asthma and stress call our Helpline on 0300 222 5800, 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri. Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.
Next review due April 2025
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.
Don’t Miss: How To Cure Stress Hives
What If Its An Asthma Attack
Remember, anxiety and asthma attacks can feed off of each other. Even if your asthma attack begins with allergies or exercise, it can turn into a panic attack also. No matter what type of asthma you have, it is extremely important to develop an asthma attack action plan.
An asthma attack action plan simply outlines your course of action in the event of an asthma attack or flare-up. It lists breathing exercises, medication, when to take your inhaler, when to call your doctor, etc.
Additionally, monitoring your lung health with testing and data tracking helps you create a more accurate action plan. Talk to your doctor about at-home lung testing, as well as any new symptoms or triggers that may display themselves. Likewise, if you suspect you suffer from chronic anxiety or panic attacks, ask your doctor how to best control them with your asthma in mind.
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.
What Is An Asthma Attack
Asthma is caused by underlying inflammation and constriction of your airways or bronchial tubes. Both inflammation and constriction can make it hard to breathe. This causes symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
When you have an asthma attack, your bronchial tubes constrict even further, making it difficult to breathe. Wheezing may be audible, and you may have tightness or a rattling sensation in your chest. Depending on the severity of your asthma attack, your symptoms could last from several minutes to hours, or even days.
Quick-relief medications can reduce your symptoms and stop the attack. But if your symptoms continue to get worse, you may need to seek emergency medical attention.
An asthma attack is brought on by triggers that irritate your lungs. These can include:
- allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, and dust mites
- chemicals, including perfume, smoke, and cleaning products
- exercise, especially if its more strenuous than what youre used to
- extreme heat or cold
- feelings of detachment from yourself and your surroundings
- feeling like youre losing control
- fears of dying
A panic attack can peak after 10 minutes, and then often begins to subside. While a panic attack can occur in the middle of a state of severe anxiety, these symptoms can also occur unexpectedly when you feel calm.
Don’t Miss: How Can Mindfulness Help With Stress
Symptoms Of Asthma Vs Anxiety
When you have asthma, your airways can become inflamed. If you encounter triggers, such as allergens, exercise, or temperature changes, your airways become even more inflamed, making them tighten. This makes it hard to breathe, causing symptoms such as:
While asthma and anxiety are two separate conditions, its possible to have both at the same time. A flareup of one condition may also exacerbate the other.
Living With Asthma And Anxiety
While managing asthma and anxiety can be tricky, there are treatments and therapies that aid in easing both conditions.
Breathing retraining. Breathing retraining can help control asthma and calm anxiety, studies show. Difficulty with breathing is a symptom of hyperventilation, which occurs with panic, and is also a symptom of asthma. Breathing retraining teaches you exercises that change the speed and regularity of your breathing patterns. The therapy can improve asthma symptoms and pulmonary function, reduce airway hyper-reactivity and reduce bronchodilator use.
Heart rate variability biofeedback. Heart rate variability biofeedback is a therapy that works by teaching you to match your heart rate to your breathing. This training can improve pulmonary function, reduce asthma symptoms and reduce the need for asthma medicine.
Cognitive behavior therapy . Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of therapy that helps you change the way you think about your fears. CBT uses relaxation techniques and problem-solving to change the way you react to and behave during situations that create anxiety.
Medicines. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to treat your asthma and your anxiety. Many people who take asthma medicine also take anti-anxiety medicine to keep them calm.
Exercise. Movement and exercise can also improve your asthma symptoms and reduce stress. Talk with your doctor about the best exercise plan for you.
Read Also: How Do You Know If Your Cat Is Stressed
How Does Stress Affect Your Health Generally
Prolonged or chronic stress can have damaging health consequences on your immune system and your brains cerebrovascular system. Stress can weaken your immune system and increase your susceptibility to colds, flu and fatigue.
Harvard Health says: Abundant evidence shows that chronic stress chips away at physical health, pushing blood pressure to dizzying heights and harming the heart. It plays a role in diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Harvard Health states elevated levels of stress in your body can cause consistently high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can cause your heart muscle to weaken and thicken, as it forces your heart to pump blood faster. This can lead to heart failure.
The BMJ reveals chronic stress can lead to the development of disorders such as dementia, Parkinsons disease and motor neuron disease. It may also influence the likelihood of developing multiple sclerosis. Feeling stressed out can cause increased sensitivity to pain Chronic stress can lead to increased levels of pain and in turn, chronic pain can leave you feeling stressed out. This works as a vicious cycle of stress and chronic pain, leaving little room for relief.
Disrupted sleep induced by stress can also exacerbate your pain. Sleep deprivation can increase your sensitivity to pain by affecting how your brain perceives pain. The inextricable relationship between pain and sleeplessness is referred to as painsomnia.
How Do You Treat Asthma
The typical treatment for asthma involves using an inhaler which helps to ease the symptoms. They fall into two main categories inhalers that help relieve the symptoms of asthma, when you are already breathless, and those which are used to prevent the symptoms from coming back. Preventative inhalers are used regularly, on a daily basis, even when you feel fine. In some cases a GP may recommend tablets instead of, or as well as, inhalers.
Its very important that you understand how to use your inhaler properly. There are several different types of inhaler device, and while it might seem obvious about how to use it, many people need help to understand how to get the best out of them. Its recommended that you take a few minutes to review your inhaler technique, even if you feel fine. Your local pharmacist, asthma nurse or GP can show you. You can also check out this selection of online videos for each type of device:
Also Check: Can Stress Cause Shingles Outbreak
How Do I Know If Stress Is Triggering My Asthma Symptoms
The first step is knowing that youre under stress sometimes we dont recognise the signs. Stress can make you feel more irritable, tired, more worried than usual. You might feel teary, restless or find it hard to make decisions.
The second is understanding that stress levels can make your asthma worse sometimes we dont make the connection between stressful events and our asthma symptoms.
To see if stress might be triggering your asthma symptoms try keeping a diary write down when and why youre stressed alongside any asthma symptoms.
You might start noticing patterns. For example, perhaps you got asthma symptoms more when you were moving to a new house, or your asthma seemed worse when you had exams coming up.
A written asthma action plan helps you keep an eye on symptoms getting worse and reminds you what to do if you notice any.
What Are The Consequences Of Long
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
Dont Miss: Does Asthma Shorten Life Expectancy
Don’t Miss: How To Fix Stress Hair Loss
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.
Recommended Reading: No Appetite Depression Anxiety
How Asthma Affects The Lungs
Normally, the bodys immune system helps fight infections. But it may also respond to other things you breathe in, such as pollen or mold. In some people, the immune system reacts strongly by creating inflammation.
When this happens, the airways swell, narrow, and may create more mucus. The muscles around the airways may also tighten. This can make it even harder to breathe. Over time, the airway walls can become thicker.
To understand asthma, it helps to understand how the lungs work.
Read Also: Can You Get Bv From Stress
Our Bodies Are Quite Fond Of Breathing Especially Relaxed Easy Breathing
We take it for granted until airways become inflamed and breathing difficulties crop up. Many patients report that stress triggers their asthmaor is it that their asthma stresses them out? Yes to both.
A trigger is anything that causes asthma symptoms to flare. Anything from pollen to pollution and even stress can trigger the bodys airways to tighten and inflame, making it tough to breathe. Stress can actually make you more sensitive to your other asthma triggers.
Our stress levels can shoot through the roof thanks to family, finances, work, big life changes pick a day, and it could be something different. Any type of stress can trigger the release of hormones that cause difficulty breathing and chest tightness. This naturally results in panicky feelings, which then lead to even more stress. It can be a tough cycle to get under control.
Stress can also disrupt routines that usually keep asthma attacks at bay. For instance, you may normally be rock solid about taking your daily controller medication and keeping a rescue inhaler nearby. When youre under a lot of stress, you might forget these things altogether and end up more susceptible to an asthma attack.
In another knock against stress , chronic stress reduces our immune systems ability to fight off viruses and bacteria that want to make us sick. Respiratory illnesses can lead to asthma flare-ups.
How Do I Know If Stress Is Triggering My Symptoms
The first step is knowing that youre under stress. Sometimes we dont recognise the signs. Stress can make you feel more irritable, tired, and worried than usual. You might feel emotional, restless, or find it hard to make decisions. Talk to close friends or family. They may notice youre stressed before you do.
The second step is understanding that stress levels can make your asthma worse. Sometimes we dont make the connection between stressful events and our asthma symptoms.
To see if stress might be triggering your asthma symptoms try keeping a diary. Write down when and why youre stressed alongside any asthma symptoms.
You might start noticing patterns. For example, you had asthma symptoms more when you were moving to a new home, or your asthma seemed worse when you had exams coming up. Try to notice whether normal stress situations or extreme stress situations, or both, triggered your symptoms.
Stress anxiety cycle
Stress and anxiety can make your asthma worse, which can make your stress levels worse. Ask your doctor or asthma nurse for support to break the cycle.
Also Check: How To Manage Stress Effectively