Why Does Anxiety Aggravate Asthma Symptoms And Attacks
At this time, the cause of asthma is unknown. Many sources suggest there is a combination of factors that cause asthma, such as environmental and genetic. But the condition of asthma is well understood. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways, says Bradley Chipps, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and allergist in Sacramento, California.
Even though the cause of asthma is unknown, there are many aggravators and triggers of asthma symptoms and attacks, including as mentioned above, stress.
Anxiety is also linked as an asthma aggravator because of how apprehensive behavior affects the body.
Apprehensive behavior, such as worrying, fretting, and being afraid create anxiety. Anxiety activates the stress response, which gives the body an emergency boost when in danger to either fight with or flee from it which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
Because of the many body-wide changes the stress response brings about, stress responses stress the body. Consequently, stress, including anxiety-caused stress can aggravate asthma, asthma symptoms, and asthma attacks.
Furthermore, behaving anxiously too often can cause the body to become stress-response hyperstimulated . Hyperstimulation can chronically stress the body. Chronic stress is a common trigger for asthma symptoms and attacks.
Finding Support With Asthma
Getting support when you have asthma is important. The people around you — family members, friends, co-workers — can all help. These people should know what to do in case you have a severe asthma emergency. They should also know you can control and manage your asthma. You can find support with asthma through online organizations, such as the WebMD asthma message boards, support groups in your community, and by staying in touch with others who have asthma. Talking to others can help east some of the stress you might feel.
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.
Also Check: Is Smoking Weed Bad For Asthmatics
About Dr Cicily Stanton
Dr. Cicily Stanton is a Family Medicine Physician at Florida Medical Clinic. As an asthmatic herself, Dr. Stanton is uniquely aware of the challenges this condition can bring. She uses her experience to help her patients find long-term relief.
From asthma control to chronic disease management, womens health, and more, Dr. Stantons goal is to help every patient live their healthiest and happiest life.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping medications or treatments.
How Do I Cope With Anxiety During An Asthma Attack
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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What Are Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder are:3
- Feelings of panic and fear that overwhelm you
- Obsessive thoughts that are difficult to control
- Painful, intrusive memories
Physical symptoms of anxiety include a sick feeling in your stomach, having butterflies, feeling your heart pound, having chest pain, sweating, being easily startled, or feeling tense.3
Typical depression symptoms include:4
Some people with depression have physical symptoms, such as stomach or back pain, changes in appetite, constipation, fatigue, headache, difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleepiness.4
How Does Stress Affect Asthma
depicts our working model of stress and asthma. It highlights the importance of both social and physical exposures in the exacerbation of symptoms. The basic premise of the model is that psychological stress operates by altering the magnitude of the airway inflammatory response that irritants, allergens, and infections bring about in persons with asthma. It is important to note that the model suggests that stress on its own is NOT capable of modifying immune functions in a way that leads to asthmatic symptoms. Rather, stress is viewed as a process that accentuates the airway inflammatory response to environmental triggers and, in doing so, increases the frequency, duration, and severity of patients’ symptoms.
Model depicting the interaction of psychological stress with environmental triggers in influencing asthma exacerbations. The basic premise of the model is that stress operates by altering the magnitude of the airway inflammatory response that irritants, allergens, and infections bring about in persons with asthma. The figure provides an overview of the relevant biological pathways to airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, and the sympathetic and parasympathetic arms of the autonomic nervous system.
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What Is Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamin deficiency refers to a condition characterized by a long-term lack of different vitamins in your body. Since each vitamin provides unique health benefits, the more vitamins you lack in your body, the more impact it will have on your health.
Based on the causes, vitamin deficiency can be either primary or secondary. Primary deficiency refers to a lack of vitamins due to an inadequate diet. Secondary deficiency is due to the presence of an underlying disorder that hinders the absorption of vitamins in your body. Its treatment requires managing the underlying health issue.
The most common signs of vitamin deficiency are:
- Gum bleeding
- Bone pain, and
- Muscle cramps
Each of the above signs reflects the deficiency of a particular vitamin. Taking a diet rich in adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is the safest and natural way to remediate vitamin deficiency.
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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Why Is Stress An Asthma Trigger
Stress makes you more likely to react to your usual asthma triggers like pets, pollen or colds and flu.
It can trigger symptoms indirectly too. You may get angry more easily when youre under stress, and anger is an emotional asthma trigger.
And if your stress levels stay high for a long time, you may notice you react to asthma triggers more often, and with worse symptoms.
Too much stress can sometimes lead to feelings of anxiety or panic attacks. In a panic attack, stress hormones are released to prepare us to either run away from danger or fight it .
We react with symptoms such as a faster heart rate, tense muscles and breathing that is shallow and fast .
This change to our breathing pattern can put us at a higher risk of all our usual asthma symptoms, such as tight chest and coughing.
Why Do We Feel Anxious
Feeling anxious is the bodys way of preparing us either to make a run for it or put up a fight .
For our ancestors, this response was useful in helping us survive life-threatening attacks by wild animals.
For us, most problems we come across in daily life arent dangerous, but our bodies can still react as though were under attack. Some people have symptoms of anxiety even when theyre just thinking about something worrying or frightening.
Also Check: Is Asthma A Small Airway Disease
Try Relaxation Or Breathing Techniques
Mind-body practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi can promote relaxation, but theres not enough research currently to show definitively that they help relieve asthma symptoms. However, a review of studies published in September 2012 in the journal AHRQ Comparative Effectiveness Reviews suggests that hyperventilation-reduction breathing techniques and yoga breathing techniques may possibly help improve asthma symptoms or at least reduce the need for quick-relief medications.
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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Asthma Symptoms And Anxiety
To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test or Anxiety Disorder Test. The higher the rating, the more likely anxiety could be contributing to your asthma symptoms and attacks. Moreover, asthma could be contributing to your anxiety attacks and symptoms.
This article explains the relationship between anxiety and asthma.
Asthma And Anxiety Share Common Symptoms And Alarms
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.
Read Also: What Happens When You Have Asthma
The Most Common Anxiety Mistakes
There are so many mistakes that people make with their anxiety. Consuming caffeine can be one way to make anxiety symptoms more severe. Not breathing correctly, which can contribute to hyperventilation. Or allowing yourself to become hyper-focused on something such as did you turn something off or remember to do something before you left the house or office.
Another common mistake that people make with anxiety is moping. In this case, moping is the idea that you need to “be alone.” The idea that you need to go home after a tough day at work, do nothing but sit and think, and that this will ease your stress and anxiety.
Ways To Manage Stress
Stress can manifest in virtually any situation, especially in the modern world where everything is fast-paced. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage this stress. Heres how:
- Practice low-impact exercises
- Avoid alcohol
Becoming more aware of situations that tend to trigger your anxiety can also help you prepare for potential stress. As long as you are taking the steps to better understand the kinds of events and emotions that trigger your asthma and anxiety, you are on your way to better controlling your reactions.
Also Check: Asthma Statistics Worldwide 2016
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?
What Is Asthma & What Causes An Attack
Asthma is a condition that affects more than 22 million Americans, making it one of the most common chronic conditionsespecially in children. Affecting the respiratory system, asthma causes the airways to inflame and swell, making breathing extremely difficult. While asthma is only a minor issue for some, it can be a major health concern for othersinterfering with daily routines and potentially leading to life-threatening asthma exacerbations. An asthma attack can be triggered by a wide range of irritants, including:
- Pollution and other environmental stressors
Because these irritants vary so vastly from person to person, understanding your specific triggers can help you control your conditions and avoid exacerbations.
Read Also: What Happens If You Smoke Weed With Asthma
How Do I Manage Stress
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:
Two Tips For Stress Reduction
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