Q: What is the role of stress in asthma, and what are some stress-relieving measures patients can try to help control symptoms?

Purvi Parikh, MD: While stress does not cause asthma, it can make asthma control much more difficult. Managing stress effectively can help improve your asthma control.

Certain lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, adequate sleep, good hydration, exercise and relaxation techniques can be very helpful. Relaxation techniques can include meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises and these can be very helpful in managing stress.

Stress can often mimic asthma symptoms, especially if you suffer from anxiety. Similar to asthma, stress can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and trouble focusing.

A mental health specialist such as a therapist can also help you learn to control stress and thus improve your asthma control.

One important thing to note is that these stress management techniques are not meant to replace your quick-relief or daily asthma medications. Skipping your medications may cause even more problems with your asthma control.

Purvi Parikh, MD, FACAAI, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist with Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and New York University School of Medicine in New York City. She is also a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Have a medical question? Email editor@allergyasthmanetwork.org or write to Ask the Allergist, Allergy & Asthma Network, 8229 Boone Blvd., Suite 260, Vienna, VA 22182.


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