Asthma Management: Emotional and Stress Triggers

Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick


"When I get extremely stressed out for some reason or another, it tends to trigger my asthma, and I have an asthma attack."

Any kind of emotional response that interrupts normal breathing such as anger, crying, anxiety, depression, or even laughter can bring on asthma symptoms.

But for most people, stress is the most common emotional trigger.

"I've went for my Proventil® quite a few times through stress at work, stress at home, just stress driving down the road. You know, there are a lot of situations that will put you to that spot where that, you know - you just need a breath of fresh air."

Your healthcare provider may advise you to use your quick-relief medication in these situations. Or they might prescribe other medications to help your emotions.

Some people find it helpful to practice deep breathing after taking their medication to get their breathing back on track.

"We need it by the end of the day. Get with me; tell me what you're going to do. Call me as soon as you can. Thanks."

"I try to take slow, deep breaths initially. And if that doesn't work, and it doesn't get my breathing under control, then I definitely have to go and use my fast-acting inhaler."

But in the long run, the most effective thing you can do is learn how to manage the stress in your life.

One approach is to avoid stressful situations whenever possible. For example, if you have a tendency to take on too many commitments, you can learn to say no.

Another approach is to change the way you think about a situation, so that it no longer seems stressful. For instance, instead of letting traffic upset you, you could try seeing it as an opportunity to listen to relaxing music or an audio book.

Using relaxation techniques to reduce your stress level is another great approach. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or any activity that relaxes your body and mind is beneficial.

Having support is also important. If you're having a problem, talk it over with a friend or family member.

Sometimes it might be helpful to get support from a professional. You can find help on a one-on-one basis, or with a group. Some people find that prayer also helps.

And finally, take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest.

By taking steps to manage stress, you'll be less likely to experience asthma symptoms in difficult situations. And you'll be healthier overall.

"You got me smiling..."

Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick

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One of the most important things you can do to lower your risk of stroke is to keep your blood pressure in check with exercise, stress management and reducing your intake of salt and alcohol.