The Connection between Violence, Stress, and Asthma

How safe is your neighborhood? If the answer is, "Not very," then you could be at an increased risk for asthma complications. While violence and asthma may sound like an unlikely connection, a new study reveals that people who live in inner cities and are exposed to violence are much more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than their counterparts.

The Latest Findings on Violence, Related Stress and Asthma

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine followed 397 adults with serious asthma for six months to determine the relationship between respiratory symptoms and exposure to violence.

Close to 25 percent of the study participants, all of whom came from health clinics located in the high-risk neighborhoods, had experienced some form of violence before the study period began and were twice as likely to visit the hospital for asthma or other health complications.

Why Violence, Stress and Asthma Occur Together

Researchers haven't pinpointed the exact connection between asthma and violence, but they believe the relationship may have to do with the stressful social conditions that exist in rougher neighborhoods. Air pollution, poor housing conditions, and lack of access to medication can all contribute to violence-related stress and asthma problems.

The researchers also believe that young people are particularly vulnerable to these risks, and that the health impact can extend beyond asthma and includes a range of other ill effects. These findings were published fall 2010 in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

What You Can Do about Stress and Asthma

It's important to remember that even if you don't live in an inner city and haven't experienced any violence first-hand, coping with the stress of your daily life can still put you at risk for worsened symptoms.

Here are some ways to relieve stress and asthma:

  • Pace yourself so you don't feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
  • Minimize your exposure to things that make your stress level rise.
  • Reach out for help from others rather than feeling you need to do everything yourself.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises to relieve tension.
  • Follow your asthma action plan to monitor your symptoms and take your control medication exactly as directed.
  • When you notice your warning signs kicking in, use your fast-acting relief inhaler and seek medical help as needed.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep and eat well, since this can help keep your symptoms under control.


"Exposure to Violence May Aggravate Asthma, Study Finds." Health Day News. Yale Medical Group, 3 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

"Exposure to Community Violence is Associated with Asthma Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 12 July 2010. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

"Stress and Asthma." Cleveland Clinic., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.