Asthma

Updated 14 April 2016

Are asthma symptoms stressing your teen out?

Difficulty breathing and waking up at night are common symptoms for those with asthma, but are these symptoms causing increased anxiety or stress in your teenage child?

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A Henry Ford Hospital study has found that common asthma symptoms like waking up in the middle of the night and shortness of breath are associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety in teens with asthma.

A red flag

In a small study of 38 asthma patients ages 14–17, researchers found that their average scores for stress and anxiety levels were higher than those seen in the general population.

Researchers suggest the findings are a red flag for physicians of young asthma patients.

Read: Depression in asthmatic teens

"Because these patients may be particularly vulnerable to stress and anxiety, this information can be helpful to physicians as they counsel their patients about the importance of managing their asthma," says Cathryn Luria, M.D., a Henry Ford fellow and the study's lead author.

"While we found a link between asthma symptoms and stress and anxiety, it's not clear which came first – the symptoms or the stress and anxiety. More study is needed to determine that."

The study is being presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's annual meeting.

Read: Teen smoking spurs asthma

Asthma affects an estimated 25.7 million people, including 7 million children ages 18 and under, according to the Centres for Disease and Control Prevention. While the cause of asthma is unknown, most people can control their symptoms with medication.

While emotional disorders like anxiety are associated with people with asthma, Dr Luria and researchers sought to evaluate that association in a more defined patient population like adolescents. Data was collected from well-child visits and a questionnaire completed by the teens. Key findings:

  • Waking up with symptoms, waking up in the middle of the night, activity limitations and shortness of breath were asthma symptoms linked to increased stress levels.
  • Waking up with symptoms and waking up in the middle of the night were asthma symptoms linked to increased anxiety levels. 

Read more: 

What is asthma? 

Symptoms of asthma 

How is asthma diagnosed?

EurekAlert

 

Ask the Expert

Asthma Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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