Does Stress Cause Asthma?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Last Editorial Review: 8/14/2017

Ask the experts

My wife is under a lot of stress, and it seems like her asthma attacks are getting worse. Can stress bring on asthma attacks? If so, can a high level of stress increase the severity of the attack?

Doctor's response

Yes, stress is one of the known triggers of asthma attacks. The exact reasons for this are not fully understood, but emotional states such as anxiety and stress can trigger asthma attacks in some people. Researchers are trying to understand the complex connection between emotions and asthma, and there is data to suggest links between the areas of the brain that control our emotions and the physical symptoms of asthma.

Since stress can aggravate asthma, it makes sense to learn and practice effective stress-management techniques. Exercise, establishing a regular sleep cycle, proper nutrition, and relaxation training are all important aspects of stress control.

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Last Editorial Review: 8/14/2017
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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