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Asthma and panic disorders

Hello everyone, First time posting here as I am having a hard time dealing with asthma symptoms and my panic disorder. Anytime I have a flare up or notice any issue when it comes to chest pain and tightness, it tends to cause me to have panic attacks and think it's my heart even though I'm almost positive it's always my asthma. I've had many tests from my cardiologist and my heart is fine. But the panic and tightness still causes the worry. I guess I'm writing to see if anyone else has this kind of experience and what they do to help ease the fear. And any tips on eating chest discomfort. Thanks for any feedback and advice. 

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  • Melissa G

    Hi Dylan! Welcome to the AAFA forums! 

    Having an asthma attack/flare is very scary. Do you have an

    We have members with panic/anxiety issues also with Asthma, I know they will chime in soon. 

    Sending you lots of hugs! 

  • Emelina

    Hi Dylan, 

    welcome, just a couple thoughts: 

    – pursed lip breathing helps me. When I feel an attack coming on and feel tight, my breathing changes to faster and shallower which worsens the shortness of breath. Pursed lip breathing adds a little back pressure to help you exhale better while waiting for your meds to kick in and prevents hyperventilation. 

    – grounding exercises can help with panic. I don’t know a good way to describe it, but you try to focus your mind on other stimuli around you like the solid ground under your feet, the chair under your body, etc to try to break your mind off the escalating flight or fight symptoms of a panic attack.

    – do you use albuterol or levalbuterol for your rescue med? If still using albuterol you could ask your doc about trying levalbuterol. I can only imagine how awful it would be to use albuterol during an asthma and panic attack. Maybe that could help cut down on the heart racing/jittery feeling. 

    – how often are you having asthma attacks? If you are needing your rescue more than twice/week, maybe you need an adjustment of your controller meds?

    – have you identified what triggers your flares? Cold air is a major trigger, so I wear a scarf when it’s cold and have been able to cut down on rescue use.

    I hope some of these suggestions help ya. 🙂

  • Dylan

    Thank you, I haven't been on a preventative medicine for a few months. I was told I didn't need them anymore unless I got sick. I rarely have asthma attacks which is one of the reasons I get so nervous about them because they tend to be far in between that I somewhat forget the symptoms and how I feel afterwards. I definitely forgot how my chest feels the following days after an attack. I believe I was triggered by drywall dust and residue of a fire at a job site I was working at yesterday. Thank you for the suggestions 

  • Breatheeasy

    I check my pulse during the attacks to make sure it’s not my heart. When my asthma was more controlled I never had issues with shortness of breath just minor discomfort during an attack but the full on attacks now make it worse.

    Since my asthma is uncontrolled now I just try to take deep breaths and wait until the attack eases. My inhalers don’t help all the time. I try sipping water to keep my throat from drying else I start coughing. Also I try to keep myself busy and continue doing what I am after I take my rescue to keep my mind from going into panic mode. If I don’t get better I usually call my doctor.

    I used to panic a lot but that made things worse.

  • Melissa G

    Dylan, have you thought about wearing a mask when you are at job sites so you are not exposed to

  • Js706

    Everyone has made some excellent points, and struggling to breathe is definitely a scary experience – particularly if, like you say, you go quite a while between having any asthma issues. 

    Here's a couple of links for some of the grounding techniques Emelina mentioned:

    Also, when you feel the anxiety start to come on, make sure you're taking nice, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Its really easy to start gasping through your mouth when anxious and/or struggling to breathe, but over time that can make you develop unhealthy breathing patterns that can make you feel even more short of breath than you would have.  

  • Dylan

    Thank you all.

    Yes I will be buying a respirator tomorrow so I can avoid that issue again. Normally work in cleaner environments so didn't have one on hand for the emergency call yesterday. 

    Thank you for the links and suggestions. I definitely started breathing fast and hard through my mouth once the panic set in. Visited my doctor today and was told to go back on a preventative medicine for a short time to make sure my asthma stays controlled. 

     

  • Melissa G

    @Dylan, now that you have been on a controller inhaler for a little while, how are you doing? Is it helping?

  • Dylan
    Melissa G posted:

    @Dylan, now that you have been on a controller inhaler for a little while, how are you doing? Is it helping?

    Hey, I'm doing pretty good. The controller seems to be helping a lot. My stamina is still not back to 100 percent but I am breathing better and coughing less. I'm sure the stamina will come back in time. Thanks for checking in