Though asthma affects over 25 million Americans, there’s nothing common about the experience. The factors that trigger attacks, the intensity of attacks, and reaction to asthma medications can all be unique experiences, making every case an individual condition.
If you or someone in your family have asthma and you’re struggling with control, check in with Alpha Internal Medicine in Fayetteville Georgia. As asthma specialists, Dr. Betsy Horton and the team can help you find the asthma solutions that are right for you or your loved one.
One common trigger that many asthma sufferers share is stress, no matter how individual their other responses. There’s no avoiding stress in your life, and even worry about asthma attacks can add to your stress load, creating a cycle that may be tough to break. Here’s what you should know about stress-induced asthma.
When the airways to and in your lungs swell and narrow, you’re having an asthma attack, and breathing becomes difficult. You may start to wheeze or cough, too, as well as feeling like you’re out of breath. Sometimes, there seem to be no reasons why asthma attacks start. Other times, your asthma defines itself by the circumstances surrounding your attacks.
Some people only have attacks when they exercise, or when they’re outside in cold, dry air. Others fall to workplace conditions, including fumes, dust, or chemicals in their environment. Allergies to pets, mold, or pollen affect another segment of asthma sufferers.
Stress works in a similar way, despite the fact it’s not a directly physical asthma trigger. However, stress and anxiety often provoke physical responses. You could be worried about your job or your schoolwork. Busy schedules may be stressful, as can concerns about bills. When these stresses create a physical response, you could be vulnerable to an asthma attack.
The unique challenges of stress
Since asthma attacks themselves may produce anxiety and stress, they can serve as their own triggers. To make matters worse, some asthma treatments, while reducing physical symptoms, carry mood-changing side effects. Prednisone causes mood swings, but it’s often necessary as a rescue therapy for severe asthma attacks, often for several days in the case of out-of-control attacks.
This is one reason why effective long-term asthma maintenance plans carry high priority. When asthma is well-managed, it won’t contribute to stress as its own trigger.
Reducing the effects of stress
Since any stress in your life can trigger attacks even with controlled asthma, it’s important to limit its impact to avoid the downward stress cycle. Dr. Horton and her team can help you devise stress management strategies as part of your treatment plan. Common strategies include:
- Positive sleep cycle: including bedtime rituals and a healthy sleep cycle
- Regular exercise: even for patients with exercise-induced asthma
- Nutritious diet of whole foods
- Developing and using a support network: to delegate responsibilities and improve focus
- Relaxation training and meditation: to help dispel the impact of unavoidable stress
Finding the right mix of solutions to your asthma condition may take some trial and error. The professionals at Alpha Internal Medicine are the first members of your asthma support network. Contact the office online or by phone to schedule your consultation today.