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Monday, December 17, 2012

Strong emotions can cause an asthma attack

(Shutterstock image)

Did you know that strong emotions can cause asthma attacks? I have been thinking about the families of the school children in Connecticut. They're dealing with shock, panic, disbelief, anger and sadness.

When you experience any strong emotion (laughing, crying, fright, etc) it can cause an asthma attack. On Webmd's website, they have an article about asthma, stress and anxiety. The article says that asthma attacks can be caused from exposure to violence, public disasters, public speaking, school exams and family conflicts.

So how does that work? How can strong emotions cause an asthma attack?! Those of us with asthma, we know that our bodies over-react to situations. We can't help it. When we experience strong emotions, our bodies release histamine and leukotrienes, which makes our airways narrow. That's what makes it hard to breathe and causes an asthma attack.

It's important to make sure you always have your inhaler with you. Hopefully your doctor has told you when you need to use your inhaler. It's helpful to have an Asthma Action Plan, so you know what to do. It tells you step by step what to do if you have an asthma attack. I usually use my inhaler and then use some deep breathing exercises. It's common to panic when you can't breathe. So not only do your airways swell up and make it hard to breathe, but panicking when that happens makes it harder to breathe. It's a vicious cycle. Webmd recommends using relaxation techniques like muscle relaxation, deep breathing or clearing negative thoughts.

They also have other suggestions, it's worth taking the time to read the article entitled  Asthma, Stress, and Anxiety: Risky Cycle.

I know that the families in Connecticut have a lot more than asthma attacks to worry about. They are planning funerals for their children. I know that I have hugged my teenagers a little more lately (even if they hate it.) But at least my teenagers are still alive. And that's something to be grateful for. 

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