It’s something that comes up often when speaking to patients about respiratory disease. “I’m worse when I’m stressed – does that have anything to do with it?” The answer is yes, definitely. Stress and respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, are very much related even though they seem disparate conditions.
Stress is a natural response to challenging or difficult situations, and it can really impact your asthma symptoms. Let’s have a look at the connection between asthma and stress, how stress can affect asthma symptoms, and ways to help you cope!
Asthma and stress have a complex relationship. Stress can trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, but it can also worsen an exacerbation, even if you usually have have well-controlled asthma. This is because stress can cause the body to release certain chemicals, such as histamine, which can make an allergic reaction worse.
If you have asthma, you may also be sometimes stressed as a result of your condition. For example, you may feel anxious or fearful about having an asthma attack, or feel isolated due to limitations on your activities. This can lead to a cycle of stress and asthma symptoms, making it difficult to manage both the condition and the stress.
So how do I manage stress and asthma?
There things you can do to help yourself cope with the impact of stress on your condition. One of the most effective strategies is to learn how to manage stress through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. These techniques can help you to calm the mind and body, reducing the release of chemicals that can trigger asthma symptoms. However, do not neglect proper medical care – if you need to go to a doctor our counsellor, please do!
Another effective strategy is to develop a written asthma action plan. This plan should include information on how to recognize asthma symptoms, how to use asthma medications, and when to seek medical attention. Having a written plan can help to reduce anxiety and fear about asthma attacks, making the whole situation easier to manage.
Exercise is also important for managing stress and asthma. Regular physical activity can help to improve lung function and reduce inflammation, which can help to prevent asthma symptoms. However, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program, as some types of exercise may trigger asthma symptoms.
Another way to manage stress and asthma is to educate yourself about the condition. Understanding the causes and triggers of asthma can help you to better manage your condition and reduce anxiety. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about your asthma and stress, and ask for referrals to resources, such as support groups or counselling.
Knowing your symptoms and how you are tracking is also a powerful way to feel on top of your asthma. If this is also combined with access to and the oversight of clinicians such as with RespiTrak Premium it goes a long way to getting peace of mind about your condition.
I hope this helps if you’re experiencing stress and asthma together – they are both debilitating things!