Living with Asthma

If you’ve been living with symptoms of asthma even for a short period of time, it’s still important to seek asthma help. You can get asthma help from experts such as your doctor or an asthma specialist and from other people who have asthma.

The repeated bouts of coughing, congestion, wheezing, and gasping for breath can cause anyone to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and even defeated. Living with asthma symptoms can result in tremendous stress. Likewise, added stress can trigger asthma symptoms. So where do you turn for asthma support and help?

We can give you some asthma help so that living with asthma is easier and you are able to have an active life, doing the things you enjoy, including exercising with asthma. Here are some health topics for living with asthma.

Stress and Asthma

Although stress does not causeasthma, stress and asthma are definitely linked. Asthma causes stress, and stress makes it more difficult to control asthma. Even daily stress can make your asthma symptoms worsen. Learning to change your stress response to decrease your asthma symptoms is important. Equally important is prioritizing your daily schedule so you allow enough time to accomplish what you need to do without feeling pressured or overwhelmed.

The longer breathing problems go uncontrolled, the more likely you’ll notice the signs caused by stress. This can make it more difficult to breathe and create even further problems, including:

  • Difficulty sleeping or nocturnal asthma, leading to constant fatigue
  • Inability to exercise or exercise-induced asthma, leading to poor aerobic and physical fitness
  • Difficulty concentrating, leading to poor performance
  • Increased irritability from lack of sleep or asthma drug side effects
  • Withdrawal from favorite activities because of lack of energy or inability to do them
  • Changes in appetite because of medications
  • Feelings of depression

There’s a better way to live with asthma and prevent asthma symptoms. Learn all about stress and your stress response. Set goals to manage your stress in a way that’s healthy and not detrimental to your breathing.

For more information, see WebMD's article on Stress and Asthma.

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Anxiety and Asthma

When stress creeps upward, you will notice an increase in anxiety and asthma symptoms. As the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing and coughing worsen, you become more anxious, and then your asthma symptoms worsen. Asthma and anxiety make for a vicious cycle and one that can spiral downward quickly. Learn about the connection between anxiety and asthma, and talk to your doctor or a professional counselor about ways to reduce your anxiety to better control your asthma.

Finding Support With Asthma

Finding support with asthma is important. The people around you -- family members, friends, co-workers -- can all give you support with asthma. These people should not only know what to do in case you have a severe asthma emergency, but they should also know that asthma can be controlled and managed. You can also 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. Finding support with asthma can help alleviate some of the stress you might feel.

For more information, see WebMD's article on Asthma and Support.

Asthma and Smoking

Asthma and smoking do not belong together in any way. If you have asthma and smoke, talk openly with your doctor about ways to stop smoking. Not only does smoking increase your asthma symptoms -- coughing, increased mucus, and wheezing -- but smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema (another lung disease), heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, gum disease, and more. New drugs for smoking cessation are two to three times more effective than nicotine gum, but require a prescription. Stopping smoking will likely prolong your life, and you may need less medication to keep your asthma well controlled. Do it today!

For more detail, see WebMD’s article on Asthma and Smoking.

To find online support, go to WebMD’s Smoking Cessation Support Group.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on February 16, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:  

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: "Allergy & Asthma Advocate" and "No Butts About It: Smoking Makes Asthma Worse."

American Lung Association: "Lung HelpLine 1-800-LUNGUSA."   

 Medscape: "Got Asthma? Quit Smoking."

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