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Friday, May 20, 2011

Crying can cause an asthma attack

I found out first hand this week that crying can cause an asthma attack.

Did you know that strong emotions can be an asthma triggers?

Me neither! But I found out this week that it is a trigger!

Weird, right?

Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America list many triggers for asthma. Here's the part where they talk about strong emotions:

Feeling and Expressing Strong Emotions

  • anger
  • fear
  • excitement
  • laughter
  • yelling
  • crying
When you feel strong emotions, your breathing changes – even if you don’t have asthma. It may cause wheezing or other asthma symptoms in someone with asthma.

My college aged son moved out this week, and you would have thought it was the end of the world. Well, he is my first to leave home, you know.

I was doing the "ugly cry" as Oprah calls it. The one where you are sobbing so hard, you can't catch your breath. Then the asthma cough started and I knew I was in trouble. I knew I needed to calm down.

I was debating grabbing my inhaler or the nebulizer. I was crying so hard I knew there was no way I could use my inhaler, I couldn't breathe in deep enough to get anything into my lungs.

So, first I started to 'belly breathe." Good thing I had taught the Open Airways class for American Lung Association, and learned how to belly breathe. With asthma, you often times start to breathe shallow, and actually "pant," after all-asthma is the Greek word for panting. See, you learn something new every day!

With belly breathing, you simply breathe in through your nose and slowly blow the air out through your mouth (hold your lips like you are blowing up a balloon.) Open Airways teaches the kids to put their hands on their belly to feel it get big when they breathe in, then get smaller when they breathe out. And it works on grown ups too. It did on me.

I was able to calm down enough to avoid using my inhaler or nebulizer.

But fair warning-any strong emotion can cause an asthma attack. Fear, anger, crying, laughing or any stress can trigger an asthma attack. If that happens, remember to belly breathe but keep your inhaler or nebulizer close by.

And lock the doors so the kids can't leave home.


  1. I have asthma and I can assure you, crying does NOT trigger an asthma attack. When you're crying, you're breathing in a lot of air which helps calm you down, so now you're going to say that people that have asthma can't cry or they'll have asthma attacks? Rubbish. Asthma is an allergy condition not a mental condition.

    1. Florentine, as you should know by now, asthma affects everyone differently and there are no two people who are alike, as is evidenced by our different experiences with asthma.

      I'm not sure how you inferred that asthma is a mental condition?

      Strong emotions (crying, anger, fear, laughter), etc DO cause asthma attacks.

      I am a Certified Asthma Educator, AE-C). But since you are doubting my expertise, you can learn more from other experts.

      These are two national organizations that do indeed list strong emotions as asthma triggers.

      Here is a link to Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA)

      Or the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI)

      Also, asthma is not an "allergy condition" for everyone. Those who do have allergies and asthma are said to have atopic (or extrinsic asthma).

      Those who do NOT have allergies, but do have asthma are defined as intrinsic asthma.

      Here is a link where you can learn more.

      Remember, just because YOU haven't experienced it doesn't mean someone else hasn't.

      Exercise is not a trigger for me, but it is for others with asthma. However, I do not tell people that their trigger is rubbish

      Everyone has different triggers and therefore different avoidance plans and treatment plans.

  2. It's true...crying can cause asthma attack. I've had asthma since I was a little so...back then, there are times where I cry really hard and during those times, I started to feel like my chest is so tight, then I start to cough and breath as if I am running out of breath, then I start to feel dizzy and sometimes it hurts in my head too. At first I thought it wasn't normal, until I had a classmate who also have an asthma and when I started crying she told me she's always like that too whenever she's crying too much.

    1. I believe you! Since it is also a trigger for me :(

      I always get a tight chest and then start to cough.

      I am hoping for the day when they discover a cure for asthma - until then, we just have to know our triggers and how to avoid them! :)