Stress and Asthma

If you find that all of your seasonal planning, socializing, and shopping leaves you gasping for air, it could well be that the stress of these and other activities could be causing your asthma to flare. The reality is that stress and asthma aren't ever an ideal combination. But you don't have to wheeze until the last decoration is put away. By understanding the connection, you can take some easy steps to manage the situation.

Holiday Side Effects

There can be a variety of reasons that holiday time can put a strain on your airways. One of the common causes is that when you experience stress, your body releases a chemical that can make the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs tighten and narrow. This can make it harder for people with asthma to breathe well. While this isn't exactly a full-blown asthma attack, it may be enough to stop you in your tracks.

You may also find yourself exposed to multiple triggers at this busy time of year.  Christmas trees, wreaths and other greenery can cause allergies and asthma. Other decorations, including spray snow, can also be irritating to sensitive lungs. Further, if you suffer from food allergies, holiday parties can expose you to multiple ingredients that have the potential to make you sick.

In addition, many people experience changes in their regular routine at this busy time of year. You may be sleeping less and not eating as well, making you vulnerable to illness, which can further make your asthma symptoms kick in.

Asthma and Stress When You Travel

Finally, while these are some of the more common situations you may encounter this holiday season, keep in mind that if you travel, your risk factors can be even higher. If you'll be taking a bus, train or airplane anywhere, you could be in close quarters with perfumes and other scents that can bring on your asthma symptoms. Climate changes, differences in altitude and even sleeping in a different bedroom while you're away can all also make you more prone to allergy and asthma episodes.

Take Control

Despite all of these challenges, you can still make the most of this holiday season. First, make an effort to manage your stress and asthma connection by pacing yourself. Don't feel like you have to do everything all at once. Also reach out to family members and friends for help getting through your to-do-list.

You can also make an effort to take time out from your busy schedule to relax and refresh yourself. Practice deep breathing or yoga exercises when you feel your stress level heating up. Also be realistic and set limits when needed. It won't do anyone any good if you end up spending the holidays stuck in bed sick.

Finally, make sure to take your asthma medications as directed and monitor your symptoms so you'll know right away if you start getting into trouble, so you can take the right steps to ensure you'll be able to enjoy the holidays feeling your very best.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)

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