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Can Anxiety Cause Asthma Attack

Can Anxiety Cause Asthma Symptoms

How to Cope with Asthma Anxiety

Complete Question

I’ve noticed that as my anxiety goes up, so does my asthma and its symptoms. Is there a connection between anxiety and asthma symptoms?


Currently, the cause of asthma is unknown. Many sources suggest there is a combination of factors that cause asthma, such as environmental and genetic.

There are, however, many aggravators and triggers of asthma symptoms and attacks, including stress, such as the stress caused by anxious behavior.

While anxiety isnt known to cause asthma, the stress caused by anxiety can aggravate asthma symptoms as well as trigger an asthma attack.

Asthma is caused by a narrowing and swelling of the airways, which can also cause a production of mucus that makes it difficult to breathe. Common symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing, as well as couching and wheezing.

Some medical sources have linked the swelling of airways to inflammation, which can be triggered by an overly sensitive and reactive immune system.

Because stress can suppress the bodys immune system, stress can be play a role in the degree and prevalence of asthma and its symptoms.

Consequently, reducing stress can remove a common aggravator and trigger of asthma.

For more information about the connection between anxiety and asthma, see the Asthma and Anxiety symptom in our Anxiety Symptoms section.

We explain the link between anxiety and asthma in more detail in our Recovery Support area.

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.

Stress And Anxiety Management

Anxiety that builds up can lead to panic attacks. If you experience frequent anxiety, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can help you work through your anxiety and reduce the likelihood of external stressors triggering a panic attack.

Even if you dont have an anxiety disorder, stress itself is a fact of life. However, stress can also trigger your asthma, so its important to manage it as best as you can.

Some steps you can take to reduce everyday stress include:

  • relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises
  • regular physical exercise
  • reduced intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • getting enough sleep

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How Long Do Asthma Attacks Last

There is no set time for how long an asthma attack lasts. As a guideline, you might only have a mild asthma attack for a matter of minutes before you manage to get your symptoms under control and they begin to ease off.

If you have severe asthma, an asthma attack can last longer, from hours to days. Severe asthma is harder to get under control and often doesnt respond in the same way to medications as mild asthma. A severe asthma attack is a medical emergency and you need to call for help for emergency help straight away.

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How Do I Cope With Anxiety During An Asthma Attack

Asthma Attacks and Panic Attacks: Similarities and Differences

Asthma can cause a shortness of breath. Being short of breath can trigger an involuntary panic attack, as well as a voluntary panic attack if you believe your survival is at risk.

You can remedy this by having rescue medication available, understanding how long it takes for your medication to work, knowing when to seek emergency help, and by calming yourself down. Its also helpful to make an action plan in collaboration with your doctor ahead of time so that you dont have to try and figure things out during an asthma attack.

Gergen says, The best stress reliever is having your medications and an action plan and knowing how to use it.

If you are concerned that asthma may prevent you from living a normal life, you may want to talk with an anxiety disorder therapist to help you address this concern as well as help you devise strategies on how to best manage asthma while living a normal life.

The combination of stress management, learning to behave less anxiously, and managing asthma well could allow you to live a normal life without any,;or minimal, restrictions.

When asthma is managed well, Self-limiting isnt really necessary, says Gergen.

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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

How Does Stress Modify Inflammation

Having provided support for the basic premises of our working model, we now turn to details of how stress amplifies the immune response to asthma triggers. provides an overview of the relevant pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, and the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic .

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Asthma Treatment With Dr Shukla

While your anxiety may be caused by certain things in your life that are out of your control, you can control it and your asthma. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Mayank Shukla today to devise a specialized asthma treatment plan. Breathe easy with the care and support from the Asthma Allergy Sleep Center of New York.

Asthma And Anxiety Share Common Symptoms And Alarms

Humidity Can Cause an Asthma Attack

We all have times in our everyday life that are anxiety provoking. These situations cause our body to release chemicals that may trigger inflammatory reactions in our bodies and cause asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Taking an exam, presenting at a business meeting, or arguing with a child or spouseall moments that can trigger anxietycan also cause the release of histamine or leukotrienes, chemicals known to play a part in the pathophysiology of asthma.

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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.

Asthma & Anxiety Differences

Asthma and anxiety both can cause a feeling of tightness in your chest and breathing difficulties.;

But the main difference is that hyperventilation during a panic attack increases oxygen flow, while constriction during an asthma attack reduces your oxygen intake.

Besides, wheezing and coughing are mainly associated with asthma attacks. And people with anxiety attacks may have symptoms beyond breathlessness.

Recognizing the difference between these conditions will help you and your doctor create an effective treatment plan. For instance, medications, such as bronchodilators, used to manage asthma worsen your anxiety.

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Anxiety Caused By Anxiety

Anxiety is also self-sustaining. Earlier we mentioned panic attacks, and how they can often be caused by periods of stress that become overwhelming. But once youve had your first panic attack, you may get them again and again because of a fear of panic attacks, or because your body becomes more attuned to how it feels, which ultimately triggers them in the future.

We see this in other ways too:

  • If you found yourself nervous about a plane ride, you might be fearful on future plane rides.
  • If you find yourself worried about a negative thought, you may have that thought more often.
  • If you experienced severe anxiety symptoms, you may be anxious about experiencing them again.

Essentially, anxiety and a fear of anxiety symptoms can create more anxiety in the future. They become their own self-sustaining cycle. So even justifiable anxiety can lead to unprompted anxiety.

How Do I Manage Stress

Impact and Management of Asthma and Anxiety and Depression

Learn to change thought patterns that produce stress. What you think, how you think, what you expect and what you tell yourself often determine how you feel and how well you manage rising stress levels.

Reduce stressors . Identify the major stressors in your life: money problems, relationship problems, grief, too many deadlines, busy schedule and lack of support. Get professional help for problems that are too difficult to deal with by yourself.

Try to avoid situations that trigger stress for you. Practice effective time-management skills, such as delegating when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself and taking time out for yourself.

Practice relaxation exercises. Relaxation exercises are simple to perform and combine deep breathing, releasing of muscle tension and clearing of negative thoughts. If you practice these exercises regularly, you can use them when needed to lessen the negative effects of stress. Relaxation exercises include diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing, imagery, repetitive phrases and progressive muscle relaxation. Many commercial audiotapes and books that teach these exercises are available.

Exercise! Its an excellent way to burn off the accumulated effects of stress.

Get enough sleep. If you are not sleeping well, you will have less energy and fewer resources for coping with stress. Developing good sleep habits is very important. Here are some tips:

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How To Stop An Asthma Attack

Stopping an asthma attack is easier if you know what to do once one starts. In some cases, it may not be possible to stop an asthma attack entirely without an inhaler. However, there are certain steps you can take to lessen the duration and intensity of an asthma attack. These include:

  • Use your inhaler
  • Stay calm

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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Anxiety Does Not Cause Asthma

Some people worry that anxiety causes asthma. There is currently no evidence that anxiety can create asthma in those that did not originally have the condition. But there is a great deal of evidence that anxiety can worsen existing asthma symptoms.

The most likely reasons for why anxiety exacerbates asthma symptoms include:

  • Hyperventilation Anxiety changes breathing habits. Many studies have shown that hyperventilation, whether it’s caused by a disorder or no disorder at all, appears to increase the likelihood of an asthma attack. So those with anxiety that may be more prone to hyperventilating may be unintentionally forcing their own attack symptoms.
  • Inflammation Stress can lead to inflammation. Asthma is the inflammation of airways. It’s unlikely that stress causes the inflammation that leads to asthma, but it’s possible that stress makes it harder to control inflammation when your asthma symptoms are acting up.
  • General Physiological Changes On a physical level, stress does cause some issues that may contribute to asthma. For example, anxiety can release an excess of histamine that can lead to asthma attacks. Stress may also weaken your immune system in such a way that you become more vulnerable to viruses and external asthma triggers.
  • Muscle Constriction Muscle constriction is also very common with anxiety. Muscle constriction can lead to tighter chest and other issues that may trigger asthma.

What Triggers An Asthma Attack

Asthma Causes Tiredness and Anxiety

When a person has asthma, attacks can seem to come out of nowhere. One minute youâre feeling fine, the next youâre wheezing and gasping for breath. If you look closely, however, thereâs always a reason for the attack.

If you have asthma, your airways are inflamed, which makes them ultrasensitive. Inflammation can cause airways to swell, hampering your breathing. More often than not, your asthma will be more noticeable when something additional disturbs your airways, which are already inflamed.

Unfortunately, triggers â agents that bring on an attack â are all around. Many different things, from viruses and dust mites to exercise and emotional distress, can set off an asthma attack. Even bacterial lung infections can trigger asthma attacks in children. Every case is different, however, and something that causes wheezing in one person may be completely harmless to another. Understanding your personal triggers is a crucial first step toward controlling your disease.

Hereâs a look at the most common causes of asthma attacks.


Many people with asthma also have allergies to pollen, dust mites, or other things in the air. When they inhale one of these offenders, the allergic reaction can set off an asthma attack. In fact, allergies are the most common cause of asthma attacks in teenagers and children over age two.

Some typical causes of allergy-related asthma attacks:


Trauma and emotions

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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:;;;;;

  • Allergies
  • How Does Inflammation Cause Asthma Airway Sensitivity And Obstruction

    Many different types of inflammatory cells and signaling chemicals play a role in the cause of asthma. Allergens turn on mast cells and dendritic cells.7 These cells tell Th2 cells to send out signaling chemicals called interleukins. Interleukins turn on other signals that are responsible for some allergy symptoms, mucus production, airway narrowing, and increasing the number of eosinophils. About half the people with severe asthma have high eosinophils, which are a type of white blood cell.8 Signals from other cells increase the inflammation, making the airways more sensitive. The most important cell types are described in the Table.3,7,9

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    What Is Anxiety And Panic Attack

    Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry about a specific situation. Everyone feels anxiety at some point in their lives, and it is a common reaction to stress. But if you are so overwhelmed that you cannot carry out daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

    A panic attack, a type of anxiety disorder, is a feeling of extreme terror where there is no danger in real life. It is a bout of severe anxiety that comes suddenly. For instance, you can have a panic attack if you think you may have a heart attack. Women are twice as likely to get a panic attack as men.

    Some symptoms of a panic attack are:

    • Rapid heart rate
    • A feeling of being detached from your surrounding
    • Fear of dying

    Many asthma patients also experience panic attacks, and they often occur together. So, a panic attack is often a common symptom of asthma

    But why does asthma cause a panic attack? Asthma attacks are frightening. In asthma, your airways in the lungs inflame, which narrows them and makes you feel terrified. Moreover, anxiety about a future asthma attack may even trigger one and also cause a panic attack.

    Treatment Of Stress And Anxiety Induced Asthma Attacks

    Asthma and Anxiety

    After making the diagnosis, the first thing to manage is airways obstruction. That is achieved by using inhalatory bronchodilators, which can be beta-adrenergic agonists , or anticholinergics . Corticosteroids are often used in moderate to severe cases of asthma attacks. For very persistent cases, intravenous or oral administration of aminophylline is the next line treatment. Rarely, if airways get obstructed to the life-threatening point when the person cannot breathe at all, intravenous administration of epinephrine can be used. Epinephrine can cause fatal arrhythmias, so this measure should be used as a last resort and with great caution with constant monitoring of electrical activity of the heart by using ECG.

    After eliminating the airways obstruction, it is important to make sure that the patient takes their prescribed therapy. This chronic therapy usually includes using inhalers with corticosteroids on a daily basis. There are also inhalers containing a combination of a corticosteroid and bronchodilatatory medications, in order to decrease the frequency of asthma attacks as much as possible. Some patients will never experience asthma attacks if they use the prescribed treatment appropriately.

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