Is It Anxiety or Asthma?

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. Understand both the similarities and the differences between anxiety and asthma.

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. 

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Your Asthma

Stress and anxiety are not the only causes of asthma. Additional triggers include exercise, smoke, allergies, pets, dust, mold, and more.

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.

To keep your doctor in the loop, it is important that you track your attacks and triggers in the first place. You can do this with the help of an asthma action plan or an asthma app.

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.

Aluna is an innovative, scientifically-accurate, and portable spirometry exam and asthma management platform paired with a mobile game kids love. Developed by four asthmatic UC Berkeley grads with guidance from the world’s leading pediatric pulmonologists, Aluna seeks to shed light on childhood asthma by providing better data for doctors and parents while coaching kids to develop good asthma management habits. 


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