It has been generally accepted in the medical community for some time now that stress is a common asthma trigger. After all, stress and anxiety sometimes make you feel short of breath and may cause asthma symptoms to become worse.
Consider the results of a recent clinical trial. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that people with asthma who witness violence in their neighborhoods are at increased risk for asthma-related hospitalization.
This interesting study included 397 adults with moderate to severe asthma who lived in an inner-city community. The research team noted that, after six months, one-quarter of the participants had previously been exposed to violence, and these people had nearly twice the rate of subsequent hospitalizations or emergency department visits for asthma as those who hadn’t been exposed to violence.
The study also found that exposure to violence was associated with lower asthma-related quality of life. Because overall emergency department visits increased, as did overall hospitalizations, the research team concludes that exposure to violence is associated with far-reaching health effects beyond the single condition of asthma.
Though these study participants found themselves specifically in violent situations, it’s easy to see how any kind of stress may worsen asthma symptoms. So, what can you or someone you love do about stress and its ability to trigger asthma? It’s difficult to avoid stress given that it’s part of daily life. However, you can learn some effective ways to manage stress. Even the simple act of relaxing can help you prevent shortness of breath and avoid panic. Here are five ways to help reduce stress in your life:
—Learn to change thought patterns that produce stress. What you think, how you think, what you expect, and what you tell yourself can dictate how you feel and how well you manage rising stress levels.
—Try to figure out the major stressors in your life. Do you have money problems or relationship problems? Are you experiencing grief? Do you have too many deadlines, a busy schedule, and/ or a lack of support? Get help for problems that are too difficult to deal with by yourself.
—Try to avoid the stress of over-work. Practice effective time-management skills, such as delegating work, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and taking time out for yourself.
—Practice relaxation exercises. Relaxation exercises are simple to perform and combine deep breathing with the releasing of muscle tension and clearing of negative thoughts. Don’t underestimate this technique: If you practice these exercises regularly, you can use them when needed to lessen the negative effects of stress.
—Get some exercise — it’s an excellent way to burn off anxiety and stress.