Does Stress Cause Asthma?

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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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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