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Worry/stress bringing on asthma

Just wondering why this happens?

I know it happens with me, if I'm worried or stressed about something my asthma gradually goes downhill, I start feeling wheezy and chesty in the mornings and evenings. People generally seem to confuse this with anxiety attacks, which from what I gather isn't the same at all - in that case wouldn't an acute worry bring on sudden symptoms that weren't helped by ventolin? I don't think anxiety would cause wheezing without other symptoms would it? And would symptoms be delayed?

Also wondering why worry seems to gradually worsen asthma if I feel stressed for a period of time.

9 Replies


Don't *think* I have this myself (thought I did but have had some v stressful days recently and while my shoulders were so tight they were really aching, I didn't really have breathing issues - sympathy though as if you're stressed asthma on top is not what you want!)

Apparently my uncle did though as a kid with fairly bad asthma. My mum said it would be with any kind of excitement/stress - so he'd have an attack EVERY Christmas Eve, and when they went to the panto, and the night before he went back to school every term... Possibly it's a 'hormonal' thing? As in, when people are stressed they produce a lot of cortisol and perhaps some asthmatics are reacting to that? But I'm not a dr or anything and may be talking total crap; just do know that strong emotions are a recognised asthma trigger.

Hope you find something to help - AUK nurses might be able to advise?


i don't know why it happens but just to say i get it too.

Interestingly it didn't bother me when i was younger, was never aware during any exams etc or during periods of bereavement. In the past few years though (maybe 3-4) i know stress sets me off. I work for 4 different companies (4xpart time = full time) & 2 years ago i had a very stressful time in one of them and colleagues from another place were aware of my persistent coughing and were asking a lot was i ok

also we lost my nan earlier this year and during the 3 weeks of her deteriorating health, then death and funeral my breathing deteriorated with it (i remember needing my inhaler about 3 times on the day of the funeral).

sorry i rambling now LOL


Stress and Asthma

When stress levels start to creep upward -- whether it's over bills, work, or your kids' jam-packed calendar -- asthma symptoms can kick into overdrive. As the wheezing and coughing gets worse, your health becomes one more reason to worry. Asthma, stress, and anxiety make for a vicious circle, and one that can spiral downward quickly.


Stress and inflammation in exacerbations of asthma


I hope these links help you and I hope you feel better soon


I can relate to this! I notice it if I'm stressed over a period of time, or if I'm having a particularly bad day at work or am caught in a worry cycle.

The Boots guide mentioned by Joanuk is a good one.

I think it can be to do with the way our breathing often changes when we're stressed over a period of time, as we breathe more shallowly then and this can then trigger asthma symptoms.

One thing that helps me is practising mindfulness or breathing exercises, as it helps me to notice what's happening in my body and also let some of the worry go (in theory!)

You could ask to be referred to a chest physio who could help you.

Hope you find a way to manage it, as it is hard!


My son's asthma trigger is this too and yes it is very hard to manage.

I am actually relieved to read of other people having the same.

He always needs his reliever at parties and when playing with friends, and in situations he feels uncomfortable in.

He rarely needs his inhaler at school or other places where things are structured.

Yet when friends come to play, he always ends up with asthma, even if he takes the inhaler before.

Have tried relaxation exercises with him in the past but he's 10 now and really is not willing to try anything like that now.



I also find that stress can be a trigger for my asthma, it also causes my eczema to flare. I found this out during exam seasons last year, not the best time but at least I know about it now


I get a patch of eczema on my neck and that gets more sore at the same time as well. In the past I have spiralled down until I needed pred, when both eczema and asthma would clear up for a while. Luckily at the moment I'm managing to stay well enough to not need the pred, which is great, but I'm missing the relief from the eczema until before it started creeping back.


Asthma can be triggered by acute prolonged stress. Many people unknowingly have asthma that is triggered by severe stress due to causes such as persistent work pressures in the office, relationship troubles, or illness or death of a loved one. Asthma that is caused by regular work stress in the office is known as occupational asthma. This type of asthma is attributed to either stress or pollution that causes it in the work place.


Asthma that is caused by regular work stress in the office is known as occupational asthma. This type of asthma is attributed to either stress or pollution that causes it in the work place. Regular work stress is not the cause rather as stated by Asthma UK : ""Occupational asthma is caused directly by work and is usually the result of a reaction that can occur in some people when they are exposed to certain substances known as respiratory sensitisers."" such as chemicals and dust. Please have a look here asthma.org.uk/about-asthma/... for more information


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