Many people suffer from asthma, and many more suffer from anxiety. For people who suffer from both, it can be difficult to determine what triggers each and how they differ from each other. To effectively care for your health, it is important that you understand both the similarities and the differences between anxiety and asthma.
What Symptoms do Asthma and Anxiety Share?
While anxiety can manifest itself through more than one symptom, the primary similarity between anxiety and asthma is difficulty breathing. Often, sudden stress or panic can trigger an anxiety attack, making steady breathing almost impossible. Intense stress can also cause an asthma flare-up.
In some cases, the stress of an anxiety attack will, in turn, result in an asthma attack. On the flip side, the fear caused by an asthma attack can trigger a panic attack.
How Can You Tell a Difference Between Anxiety and Asthma?
The two conditions get tangled up together, and it can be hard to tell when one ends and the other begins. However, you’ve probably heard these words before in response to both: “Just breathe.”
If it were only that easy! Well-meaning people will often tell you to “just breathe” in response to an attack, and therein lies the primary difference between anxiety and asthma. Since asthma is a lung condition, you often can’t “just breathe.” Instead, medication or an inhaler helps you slow the attack.
If you are having difficulty breathing due to an anxiety attack, you can “just breathe.” It takes work and concentration, but your lungs haven’t shut down. Your body is simply reacting to stress in the best way it knows how.
Simple Ways to Manage Your Anxiety
While anxiety is mostly triggered by worry, it shows itself in additional symptoms such as an increased heart rate, nausea, dizziness, sweating, and fatigue.
While it is impossible to entirely “prevent” anxiety attacks, you can be on guard against them by employing the following tips.
1. Breathe Deeply
If you feel yourself getting stressed out, force yourself to inhale and exhale slowly before breathing becomes overly difficult.
2. Force Your Muscles to Relax
The body naturally tenses when things get stressful. Concentrate on relaxing each muscle individually. Schedule a massage or a visit to the chiropractor.
3. Close Your Eyes and Focus
Focus on something other than the stress. Think about what makes you happy, or simply divert your mind to a less-stressful topic.
How to Manage Your Asthma
It is important to take care of your asthma by doing the following things.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
Communicate with your doctor regularly regarding asthma flare-ups, anxiety attacks, symptoms, triggers, etc.
2. Track Your Triggers
3. Do Your Best to Stay Calm in Stressful situations
Whether you suffer from asthma, anxiety, or both, it is important to remain calm, relaxed, and focused in all situations. Not only does this help you avoid attacks of any kind, but it is also beneficial to your overall health.
Common Questions About Anxiety & Asthma
1. Does anxiety affect asthma?
Anxiety does play a role in asthma symptoms. It can cause a worsening of symptoms, most commonly through the shortness of breath.
2. What are some questions about anxiety?
Talk to your doctor about any anxiety you may be feeling. A few good things to ask your doctor are:
- What treatment options are available for dealing with anxiety
- What the side effects of the treatments would be
- If other medical problems could be the cause of anxiety
3. 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 potential 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?
4. What factors can trigger asthma?
Asthma attacks can be triggered by many different allergens. Each person should learn what triggers their asthma attacks and how to avoid exposure as best as possible. Some of the most common triggers are pollen, animal dander, and smoke or chemical fumes.
5. 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.