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How Stress May Affect Your Asthma

By Louis Neipris, M.D., Contributing Writer
8/16/2012 11:47:08 AM

Stress is your body's alarm system. It's a set of signals telling you to react to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. The reaction is rooted in the human species' flight-or-fight response that protected our cave-dwelling ancestors from danger. Most of today's stressors are not dangerous. Yet traffic jams, deadlines and family quarrels still fire up the nervous system. Everyday demands can elevate heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Emotional stress may also trigger an asthma attack in up to 35 percent of asthmatics.

Photo courtesy of GeeHock

What's the stress and wheezing connection?

Stress does not cause asthma, but the body's response to stressors can be one of many triggers for asthma attacks in some people. When stressed, you breathe faster and may take more shallow breaths. This can make asthma symptoms worse. Chronic stress can also:

-Lower immunity and make you susceptible to colds, which can trigger asthma
-Lead you to forget to take your asthma medications or check your peak flow

Practice mind over matter

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