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How Stress May Affect Your Asthma

Learn practical ways to handle stress, so you can stay focused on managing your asthma.

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Everyday demands like traffic jams, work deadlines and family quarrels can cause stress and anxiety. For some people who have asthma, stress or anxiety may trigger their symptoms.

What's the stress and asthma connection?

Stress doesn’t cause asthma, but it can make it worse in some people. When a person is stressed, he or she may breathe faster and take shallower breaths. This can make asthma symptoms worse and harder to manage.

Recognize your triggers

Asthma is a disease that needs long-term management and medication. Knowing your triggers and having a plan can also help you control the symptoms.

Stress shows up in many ways and varies from person to person. You can learn ways to recognize high stress levels. This may help you better manage your asthma.

Lifestyle changes can help reduce stress

These healthy habits may also help you better cope with stress:

  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Have healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a weight that’s right for you.

Take it slow

If you’re trying to improve your health habits, don’t try to change everything at once. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel comfortable, move to another change you want to make.

Talking to family members and close friends about your stress may help, too. If your stress starts to overwhelm you, talk to your doctor or another medical professional for help.

By Kristin Nelson, Contributing Writer

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Asthma triggers and management: Tips to remember. Accessed: March 26, 2015.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are the signs and symptoms of asthma? Accessed: March 26, 2015.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Asthma and stress. Accessed: March 26, 2015.
American Psychological Association. Stress effects on the body. Accessed: March 26, 2015.

Last Updated: April 23, 2015