Effects of Stress on Asthma
Reduce Stress to Keep Asthma at Bay
If you suffer from asthma, you already know to avoid certain triggers that aggravate your condition -- pet dander, dust, pollen, cigarette smoke and other environmental factors. But are you aware of the role that stress plays in exacerbating your asthma?
Scientific studies have linked stressful situations with the onset of asthma symptoms in otherwise healthy college students who occasionally experience mild symptoms of the disease, proving that stress is a known asthma trigger that can complicate successful symptom management. At the first wheeze or asthmatic cough, stress levels go through the roof and the heartbeat accelerates, setting off an entire series of physiological reactions that affect multiple organ systems, including the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Chemicals are released into the bloodstream during times of high anxiety and stress and constrict airways, causing a feeling of panic, as the thin stream of air entering the lungs is inadequate for healthy respiration.
Just being aware that stress aggravates your asthma condition puts you ahead of the game. Knowing to avoid or limit your contact with situations, people and activities that have caused complications like a stress-induced asthmatic episode in the past can be your first line of defense in fighting off that wheezing, breathless feeling.
When asthma symptoms become unmanageable in people's lives, doctors sometimes prescribe the anti-inflammatory prednisone, which has been shown to cause altered moods in those taking long-term doses. The last thing an asthma sufferer needs is wildly fluctuating moods that bring on even more episodes. Limiting the duration of oral steroids can prevent this avoidable complication.
Effectively Managing Stress in Your Life
It can be a delicate balancing act to limit stressors while living a full life that includes the demands of work and family and recreational pursuits, but there are ways to reduce elements that bring on asthmatic symptoms. Eating well and exercising regularly helps promote stress-reduction. Yoga, which involves clearing the mind as well as stretching the body, can be especially beneficial.
Actively pursue goals that will contribute toward the elimination of stress in your life, whether it's hiring a cleaning service to tidy up regularly, learning to delegate at work and requesting help from family members at home with daily tasks and major projects. Listening to soothing music while meditating can help relax your mind from its worries. Don't be afraid to open up to your doctor about any exacerbation of your asthma symptoms related to stress. He or she can prescribe medications to alleviate your condition.
Our bodies are complicated machines with intricate interactions occurring automatically without our awareness of their vital functions. Learning how risk factors affect our health allows us to proactively take measures to eliminate undesirable situations and better manage chronic conditions.