Asthma Like Symptoms And Anxiety

Extreme anxiety causes people to hyperventilate and have difficulty catching their breath which is very similar to an asthma attack.  Both conditions have very similar symptoms for very different reasons.  Asthma is a respiratory condition affecting the lungs while anxiety is the body’s natural reaction to stress.

Most people feel anxiety if they are nervous about a life event such as a job interview, doing a presentation or going somewhere for the first time.  This is perfectly natural and gives people the ability to overcome their fears. People with anxiety disorders have an extreme response to everyday occurrences.  Anxiety feels as if you are going to die but an attack won’t kill you.

Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes inflammation in the lungs making it difficult to breathe.  Triggers include; pollen, stress, changes in temperature and exercise and is either mild or severe. People manage their asthma by avoiding triggers and using inhalers. Severe attacks lead to hospitalisation and in the worst cases prove to be fatal.

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What Is An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a natural response to a stressful situation and everyone suffers from it during challenging times in their lives. It becomes a disorder if it continues for longer than six months and a reaction to everyday occurrences.  It is a debilitating condition preventing sufferers from enjoying and participating in everyday life.

People with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression and women are more likely to have the disorder than men due to a hormone imbalance. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol exacerbates the condition and makes it more difficult to treat. Anxiety causes sufferers quality of life to decline and requires specialist treatment.

The disorder manifests itself in different ways for different people for some it feels as if the world is crumbling around them or they are spinning uncontrollably fast. Some people feel sheer panic and have difficulty breathing while others have flashbacks of difficult memories.  This prevents some people from leaving their houses where they feel safe leaving them housebound and isolated.

There are different types of anxiety disorders including; panic, phobia, OCD, hypochondria and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Treatment includes; cognitive behaviour therapy and medication. It is an illness and sufferers benefit from treatment which may take a long time but will make life easier to cope with. (Source: Healthline).

What Is Asthma?

 Asthma is inflammation of the lungs causing the airways to narrow and restrict breathing. It is a long-lasting condition that affects people to different degrees. Most people manage their asthma well and only suffer from symptoms occasionally while others have it more severely and are prone to frequent attacks.  People who manage their condition well are able to enjoy a normal life and even compete in the Olympics.

Symptoms include; wheezing, shortness of breath, a tight chest and difficulty breathing.  Sometimes people panic if they find breathing difficult making their symptoms much worse. Asthma is potentially fatal for some people if they suffer from a very bad attack.  Chronic asthma sufferers have symptoms all of the time and are unable to participate in everyday life.

Triggers include; cold or flu, allergies, cigarette smoke, medication, stress, food, weather conditions, damp and exercise.  Working environments such as bakeries and chemical plants trigger work-related asthma. Recognising triggers helps people to manage their condition more effectively.

Treatments include emergency or "reliever" inhalers such as Ventolin (Salbutamol) which relax the airways in the lungs making it easier to breathe.  Asthma plans help doctors and sufferers to keep track of their condition so they are able to avoid triggers and reduce the chances of an attack. (Source: NHSinform.scot).

Both conditions require you to see a doctor in order to keep them under control.  If you are having difficulty breathing and have a tight chest visit your doctor for advice.

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By Parv Sagoo (Feb 2018)