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Can anxiety cause asthma symptoms?

Currently, the cause of asthma is unknown. Many sources suggest there is a combination of factors that cause asthma, such as environmental and genetic.

There are, however, many aggravators and triggers of asthma symptoms and attacks, including stress, such as the stress that is caused by behaving anxiously. So, while anxiety isn’t known to cause asthma, the stress caused by anxiety can aggravate asthma symptoms as well as trigger an asthma attack.

Asthma is caused by a narrowing and swelling of the airways, which can also cause a production of mucus that makes it difficult to breathe. Common symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing, as well as couching and wheezing.

Some medical sources have linked the swelling of airways to inflammation, which can be triggered by an overly sensitive/reactive immune system. Because stress negatively impacts the body’s immune system, stress can be play a role in the degree and prevalence of asthma.

In this regard, then, reducing your stress can remove a common aggravator and trigger of asthma.

For more information about the connection between anxiety and asthma, see the “Asthma and Anxiety” symptom in the Symptoms section.

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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated February 2015. Information, support, and coaching/therapy for problematic anxiety and its symptoms, including anxiety aggravated asthma symptoms.
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