Anxiety or Asthma attack??

Hi all, does any one else struggle to determine whether they are having asthma symptoms or whether it's anxiety? i struggle with this all the time, if I have a tight chest or tight throat or I have a little wheeze in my throat, I start to panic and worry that I'm having the start of an asthma attack, which I know only makes matters worse! Can anyone advise on any ways they figure out whether it's asthma or not as I know that a wheeze and tight chest doesn't always mean it's asthma? Any advise would be really appreciated.

I do suffer from daily anxiety so I am really struggling at the moment trying to figure out what is what! It's exhausting.

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  • Fortunately because I've had mental health problems for a number of years I am generally very good at identifying when I'm panicking or anxious verses it being my asthma, plus I get a horrid cough when its my asthma, but don't have the cough when I'm feeling okay.

    But the things I use are as follows;

    For me when I start to feel tight or have a little wheeze I sit down and try to try to determine if there are any triggers around me to have set off my asthma. I then focus on taking regular even breaths. I have two ways of doing this I either count out a set amount of time to breathe in and exhale and gradually increase the amount of time until I'm breathing normally, or secondly I put a hand on my chest (or someone I trust does) and it helps you focus on breathing and if someone else if helping you, you mimic them and their breathing to return to normal breathing.

    I perform stretches to help open up the ribs, diaphragm and back because when you are anxious you tense up which contributes to chest tightness. If after this I still have symptoms I will take some inhaler.

    Getting tightness and wheezing are all part of asthma and unfortunately will happen without it escalating to a asthma attack. I find that its generally a warning that something in my environment is triggering me and I need to remove myself from that area to stop it from progressing.

    I'm having therapy with a specialist team who deal with asthma and how panic affects us and can make our asthma worse, so once I've seen them again I will get more tips on how to differentiate and how to ease the panic to deal with the asthma side of things.

  • Wow - this is so helpful to me, thank you so much Beth_19 for taking the time to write this. I will definately try what you have suggested above and hopefully it will help. Thank you so much

  • If u hav a peak flow meter u will.notice a drop in your peak flow when ur asthma flares up. If u dont hav this ask your doctor for one. Hope ur well soon. Also if u do breathing exercises they slow down yr heart making u feel less anxious. Look up breathing exercises or relaxation music on internet.

  • Great, thank you healthwish, I do have a peak flow meter so will try that the next time Im unsure. Will look up breathing exercises too!

  • U shud do a peak flow daily and record it on a page or a dairy. Then if ur asthma flares up u will notice the drop in peak flow. If u only check when u feel unwell u wont know if ur reading is normal or low. Only takes a few seconds to do. So record peak flow every day so u can compare your good days to the bad days. Hope u hav a asthma plan telling u what to do when ur peak flows are low. When we hav more knowledge and know what to do and when to seek medical help it helps reduce anxiety cus u feel in control. Take care.

  • I know exactly how you feel and I suffer from stress , anxiety and have brittle asthma , I find it very difficult too . I am currently having CBT ( cognitive behavourial thearpy ) for the anxiety amd I an doing it on line which is a free service , may be worth googling CBT to see if you think it will help with your anxiety. They both go hand in hand and some asthma medication can cause anxiety so bit like a vicious circle . BUT whatever you do , don't be afraid of asking for help if you are unsure , the Drs won't mind if it's anxiety but just don't put your self in danger - if you feel unwell - GET HELP .

  • Thank you for the advice Rainbows22 - I have had CBT treatment before but it was ages ago and it did help so maybe I should go again or like you are doing, follow an online CBT course. Its really reassuring to know that other people are going through similar issues to me and are sharing their ways of coping as it gives me more avenues to look in to, to help hopefully improve my own situation.

  • There are also articles on line re anxiety and asthma and how there are related X you never alone tho , always here if you need to offload

  • Thank you, that's really nice to know 😊

  • Hello Mel-GirlXX

    Stress is an asthma trigger. Check out for more information. Do you do physical exercise to help manage your asthma?

    John Terry McConnell

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