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Asthma Health Center

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Stress and Asthma

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Stress is a common asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is anything that brings on asthma symptoms. When you have stress and asthma, you might feel short of breath, anxious, and even panicked. Stress may cause your asthma symptoms to worsen and cause you to feel frightened.

When stress levels start to creep upward -- whether it's over bills, work, or your kids' jam-packed calendar -- asthma symptoms can kick into overdrive. As the wheezing and coughing gets worse, your health becomes one more reason to worry. Asthma, stress, and anxiety make for a vicious circle, and one that can spiral downward quickly.

Recommended Related to Asthma

Holiday Asthma Triggers for Kids

If your child’s rendition of “dashing through the snow” sounds more like, “wheezing through the snow,” you know the holidays are here. It’s that time of year again, when parents drag dusty decorations out of the basement, plop live trees laden with last summer’s mold and pollen in the middle of the living room-, and surprise their kids with a new kitten or puppy on Christmas morning. All in all, the holidays are a cornucopia of asthma triggers for children. "Each individual's asthma triggers differ,"...

Read the Holiday Asthma Triggers for Kids article > >

When Asthma Treatment Triggers More Anxiety

With persistent asthma, you have symptoms more than once a week, but not constantly. Treating persistent asthma requires long-term maintenance therapy, such as an inhaled steroid, plus rescue therapy when something triggers symptoms. And when your symptoms are out of control (in the red zone, a severe asthma attack), prednisone for asthma might be necessary for a few days. The problem is that prednisone often causes mood swings as a side effect, adding fuel to your anxiety.

Remember, prednisone is a short-term treatment for most people with asthma. After you finish taking the "burst" of oral steroids, your mood will return to normal. Inhaled steroids don't cause permanent mood changes.

If your long-term asthma medication doesn't work well, and wheezing and chest tightness occur too often, a vicious circle can begin where anxiety worsens asthma, and asthma worsens anxiety. That's when you need to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, triggers, and stress. Also discuss other asthma treatment options that can get asthma under control again, so you can prevent symptoms of asthma.

How to Manage Stress With Asthma

Stress is part of daily life -- with or without asthma. That's why it's important to find effective ways to manage stress if you do have the disorder. Learning to relax before you feel stressed can help you prevent shortness of breath and avoid an asthma attack.

Change Your Thoughts. 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.

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