Could Anxiety Worsen Asthma Outcomes?

Anxiety sensitivity, or a fear of sensations associated with the experience of anxiety, is associated with difficulty in managing asthma and poorer outcomes, according to a recent study.

Previous research has indicated that anxiety sensitivity and other psychopathology, particularely those that are panic-related, can play an important role in asthma outcomes.

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In their study, researchers had 101 college students with asthma breath through coffee-stirrer straws, mimicking the symptoms of asthma.  During the test, researchers noted that safety controls were in place and all participants were required to have their inhalers ready in case of an asthma attack.

Overall, individuals who reported higher anxiety sensitivity also reported greater anxiety during the time they breathed through the straw and greater asthma symptoms and decreased lung function as well.

For this reason, researchers recommended that interventions for anxiety sensitivity may be useful in helping to improve both asthma control and lung function in patients with asthma by decreasing the reactivity to symptoms.

The study will be presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 49th Annual convention in Chicago.

—Michael Potts


University of Cincinnati. New study explores how anxiety can aggravate asthma [press release]. November 12, 2015.