Emotion as an Asthma Trigger

For people who suffer from asthma, the fact is that deep emotions, including the act of crying, can irritate their very sensitive airways. To understand how and why, keep in mind the way your body reacts when you experience stress or other strong emotions. For instance, when you cry (or even when you yell or laugh), your breathing typically becomes faster and deeper in the process. The reaction is similar to that which occurs during exercise, which can also be an asthma trigger.

For a person with completely healthy lungs, the changes that occur with exercise and crying shouldn't cause any significant challenges, but if you have hypersensitive airways, this difference in your breathing pattern can often be enough to cause the airways to tighten and spasm. The result? A crying fit can easily lead into coughing, wheezing and other asthma symptoms.

Avoiding a Reaction

While you can't always avoid tears, or even steer clear of the situations that cause them, you can at least help to keep your asthma well managed so the act of crying doesn't push your symptoms into high gear. Review the following tips for ideas of how to keep your breathing calm and even.

  • The first step in keeping your airways from reacting to crying and other forms of expression is to see an allergist and develop an asthma action plan and follow it closely.
  • Usually this will include avoiding environmental triggers, such as pollen, grasses, animals, dust mites and other things that can make you more airways more sensitive.
  • In addition, you'll need to use daily control medication to manage your symptoms and make them less likely to respond to factors like crying.
  • Try to remain as calm as you can when you find yourself facing difficult situations. With a little effort, you'll be able to better manage your reaction. And if you do cry, try to monitor your breathing and not let it overwhelm you.
  • Finally, be prepared to use your fast-acting relief inhaler when you feel you need it.

Cry Without Fear

Keep in mind that when your asthma is well controlled, even if you do cry, your lungs will be able to handle the stress of this asthma trigger and won't be as apt to react to the change.  So if you do face some other situation that makes you upset, you'll at least be able to cry without fear of also experiencing asthma effects.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)


Illinois Dept. of Public Health/Health Beat


Get Asthma Help


Seattle Children's Hospital