Did You Know Stress Can Trigger an Asthma Attack

March 17, 2023
Andrew Gallagher
4 Min Read

There are occasions when stress may be beneficial. Even a little bit may make a big difference in our ability to get things done or how energized we feel. It has the potential to improve our performance on tests, enable us to come out on top in a race or get us out of harm's way. On the other hand, there are occasions when we feel overwhelmed by stress or perceive that something is placing more pressure on us than we can bear.

The body's physiological reaction to stress has also been demonstrated in studies to activate the immune system and induce the production of certain hormones. This may result in inflammation inside the lungs' airways, which can then set off an asthma attack.

Having asthma as a chronic condition may also lead to worry and anxiety. According to the findings of a few pieces of research, having asthma is connected with an increased risk of developing the panic disorder later in life.

Stress induced asthma is a new phenomenon that has been observed in recent years. It is characterized by an asthma attack that occurs when the individual is under stress.

The exact cause of this phenomenon is still unknown, but it has been hypothesized that the stress hormone cortisol may be to blame.

When you feel stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. The function of cortisol is to slow down bodily functions that might put your body in danger and kick in system-maintenance tasks that allow it to prepare for something stressful.

More often than not, though, chronic stress goes hand in hand with an under-active immune system that can make you more susceptible to asthma problems.

In a study conducted by researchers in Washington State University College of Arts and Sciences, they found out that many people who suffer from chronic stress also suffer from severe asthma symptoms.

How can stress bring on an asthma attack?

The airways in the lungs are sensitive to stress, and when a person is under stress, the muscles around the airways tighten. This causes the airways to narrow, which can lead to asthma symptoms.

We are aware that being under a lot of pressure might increase the likelihood that you will have asthma symptoms. Persons who have asthma and who are also coping with persistent or severe stress are at a greater risk of having an asthma attack or going to the hospital due to their asthma.

Stress might mean

You are more likely to react to your typical asthma triggers, such as colds and respiratory infections, have worse symptoms, or your asthma may feel harder to manage;

  • You get angry more efficiently, and anger is an emotional asthma trigger.
  • You are more likely to drink or smoke more, which can put you at a greater risk of asthma symptoms.
  • You find it more challenging to stick to your medication routine you have a more challenging time controlling your asthma symptoms when you have asthma it is more difficult to control your asthma symptoms when you have asthma.
  • You must practice effective stress management to the best of your ability. Reducing your stress levels and following a solid routine for asthma care may minimize the likelihood of asthma symptoms.

The effects of anxiety and panic attacks

Panic attacks are occasionally brought on by prolonged exposure to excessive stress. Hormones that regulate our stress reaction are activated during an incident of panic, preparing us to either flee from or confront the threat (the "fight or flight" response).

We respond with bodily symptoms such as a quicker heart rate, tighter muscles, and shallow, rapid breathing to cope with the stress (hyperventilating). Because of the shift in the rhythm of your breathing, you may be at an increased risk of experiencing all of the typical asthma symptoms, such as a tight chest and coughing.

Methods to reduce stress

There are many ways that you can reduce your stress and prevent asthma attacks including:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Exercise
  • Eating healthy foods


The term "stress-induced asthma" refers to asthma that either originates from or is exacerbated due to stress. The symptoms, such as quicker breathing and a spike in inflammation, may be triggered by the fact that stress produces physical changes.

However, it is feasible to gain control of asthma that is triggered by stress. A physician can devise an asthma action plan and prescribe quick-acting inhalers that an individual can have on their person at all times.

Reducing stress in your overall life as well as focusing on your general health and wellness will help you to reduce stress and can positively impact your symptoms.

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