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Can Anxiety Cause Asthma Symptoms?

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Updated: May 11, 2019

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.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated February 25, 2019.

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