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Asthma and panic disorder?

Hi all, I am new, just joined today. I am still waiting for pulmonary specialists to call for an appointment to verify that I have hypersensitivity pneumontits. The doctor gave me a loose diagnosis of "asthma." I have two inhalers now, one is for a 1 month treatment, and the other is a "rescue inhaler." I just got the rescue inhaler today, and thank the gods for that because this evening I had what I guess was my first asthma attack? I lost the ability to inhale, my lungs just wouldn't expand at all. It was terrifying! 

On top of this new development of asthma, I have been long-term diagnosed with panic disorder. This means that I have seemingly random panic attacks- adrenaline rush, rapid heart-beat, total fight-or-flight reflex. Well my asthma attack(?) triggered a panic attack. I lost both the ability to breath and the ability to communicate (I lose motor and verbal control during panic attacks). Thankfully a mixture of the rescue inhaler and my cat helped and after a while I was able to breath and calm down. 

The issue is that I have no idea what triggered the asthma attack(?). I was just sitting on the couch in a comfortable position, watching a non-exciting but enjoyable tv show when I noticed my chest hurt and my lungs felt "tight." Things rapidly escalated from there. It felt bad enough that I wanted to ask my family to call the ambulance, but I couldn't verbalize this at all.

 I already have a hard time coping with the panic disorder, so now knowing I have to worry about both of these things is incredibly daunting. Hopefully the pulmonary specialists can help more. The ambulance takes a good 1/2 hour to get out to where I live, so I'd like to try to avoid this situation again 

I am going to be home alone for a week right after the holidays, so now I am freaking out because I have no clue how I'm going to, well, survive!

So I guess I'm wondering if anyone else has this issue of asthma attacks and panic attacks happening at the same time?

Sorry for the wall of text! 

Thank you,

M. Mustela / Arik

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Comments 4

  • Katie D

    Welcome @monsieur-mustela  That must have been scary, so sorry to hear about what you experienced.  Read more about our . 

    We have a that may be helpful to review too.  Do you family staying with you for the holidays?  An asthma attack could be from something new in your environment or something old that your body is now reacting to.

    Panic attacks can be considered a symptom of asthma.  An asthma attack is scary and you may have experienced a panic attack as a result of it.  I have read that just knowing another asthma attack could be looming is enough to cause panic attacks in some people. 

    Have you looked into anti-anxiety medications for the panic disorder?

    Was it your primary care physician that diagnosed you?

    Hopefully you are able to get an appointment with the pulmonary specialists early in the new year who can confirm the diagnosis and help you to manage it better.

  • Shea

    Hi M.M. Im sorry about that experience, it sounds for sure frightening! I have had panic attacks and asthma attacks separately but never together… (I developed a serious chronuc allergic disease involving asthma in my late 20s.. It was a different time in my life when I had panic attacks–early 20s). I guess you should talk to both your doctors–the specialist in panic disorder and the pulmonologist (or whoever manages your asthma) about the occurance. 

    For asthma, learning triggers can be very helpful. I always recommend people go to an allergist and get tested for all environmental triggers. Albuterol can make me jittery–Im used to it now– but I know it can make me more anxious because it increases heart rate. Breathing is important though, so rescue inhalers are important. I need to use my rescue inhaler less when I am on inhaled steroids.. I use budesonide in a nebulizer two times a day, but I know other on here use inhalers with inhaled steroids. Inhaled steroids work on keeping inflammation lower, and you use them daily typically, whereas a rescue inhaler will open up already inflamed, tight airways during an attack. 

    As for panic attacks, in the past I was prescribed xanax– but careful not to use often, just during attacks as it can be habit-forming plus make you sleepy. I have seen a lot of success for those who take clonozepam regularly as well for panic disorder (I used to work in the mental health field)… I have also heard and seen therapists use biofeedback to help teach clients work their way out of a panic attack–and that was cool to watch because they were hooked up to a machine where they coukd watch themselves use breathing and other techniques to physically lower their heart rate and stop the attack. But all those require a practitioner.

    Knowing my triggers has helped me feel more in control of my asthma, and then getting used to avoidance of triggers and finding the right asthma medications… And working with my doctors. It has also helped me connecting with others on this forum–Im sure they will be chiming in– all great people!

  • Jen

    Welcome @monsieur-mustela .  I agree with Shea and Katie that it is worthwhile talking to both specialists to see what can be tweaked in your treatment plans for both  issues (asthma and panic attacks). In the meantime, I get that you are nervous about being on your own.  Could you ask some friends/family to either say with you or check in regularly?