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Hysterical Asthma

Laughter is the best medicine – goes a popular saying, but hospital reports show that there's an exception to the rule when it comes to asthma sufferers.

An emotional moment, a confrontation with a dear one, an unexpected shock, or a happy and joyful celebration - for some people with asthma, these are hysterical triggers that can leave them with a sudden and severe attack.

Emotions can make asthma symptoms worse, and such weak hearted people who have asthma should try to stay away from strong emotions. “Hansi mein khasi” – goes an old saying related to hysterical asthma.


So what can patients with asthma do?

The most important step is to understand the emotional triggers - the circumstances, the intensity and the range of emotions associated in such situations that usually provoke an asthma attack. Simply realizing such situations can help many people gain a sense of control over such a condition that is often terrifying.

But no behavioral or emotional strategy should completely replace the appropriate use of medication, it should complement medical treatment. Which means that in addition to getting proper medical care, people who have hysterical asthma should also pay particular attention to their psychological state.


Hysterical asthma in children:

Early recognition of emotional or hysterical asthma in children is useful, especially for their families.

Hysterical asthma has a clear biological association, and there is no question that attacks are triggered by exposure to either food, pollution or animals. Since the disorder is heavily influenced by emotional factors, the cure also lies in emotional and behavioral interventions.

A child's asthma is noticeable only after crying, laughing or yelling in response to an emotional situation. These normal "emotional" responses involve deep rapid breathing which in turn can trigger asthma.

Studies have shown that excitement and agitation in kids increase the risk as well as severity of asthma attacks. Here the role of parents become very significant. They should, with the help of a pediatrician or psychiatrist help their child identify all those feelings and situations that trigger an asthma attack in their kid. If kids learn to recognize the early warning signs, and develop a sense of control over their illness, it will help the child as well as their families.


Why hysterical asthma is considered more risky?

Asthma attacks are usually unpredictable, and such events tend to be more stressful than events that can be anticipated and prepared for. A fear that another asthma episode could start any time may cause a person to feel anxious constantly, which itself could be a trigger factor for the next attack.

The fear of dying because of ‘air hunger’ can continue even when the person is not having active symptoms, and make him unnecessarily hysterical thereby worsening the situation.

Hyper-vigilance by a patient in case of hysterical asthma, can make him so focused on when another asthma episode might occur, so as to be alarmed by even normal and negligible emotional and bodily changes.

Hysterical asthma involves a lot of anxiety, fear and unnecessary extra cautiousness. This can make a person refrain from doing the things he needs to do to stay healthy and prevent serious asthma episodes.


How to take care of oneself to prevent attacks of hysterical asthma?

  • Do not hesitate to accept the emotions you're having - Pretending as if you don't feel a certain emotion will not help. It will only make things more difficult for you, understand the emotion and face it.
  • Take an active role in taking care of yourself - Learn about the disease and what you can do to stay as healthy as possible. Not only will your asthma get better, but you will feel more in control of what happens to you.
  • Practice relaxation exercises like yoga or meditation – These, in many cases have not only reduced asthma-related stress and anxiety, but also, in some cases, actually helped to reduce the symptoms of asthma.
  • Please remember the thumb rule - psychological and emotional factors do not cause asthma. Research has proved that emotions can only be asthma triggers. Some people find they are more susceptible to asthma episodes when they are under a lot of stress or other emotional responses.

What immediate treatment must be given to calm down the situation?

During an asthma episode, anxiety and panic should be controlled as much as possible. Encourage the person to relax and breathe easily and give appropriate medications.

Treatment should be aimed at controlling the asthma. When asthma is controlled, emotional stress will automatically be reduced and other emotional factors can then be dealt with more effectively.

More severe psychological problems require a specialist to help the person and his or her family.

To conclude in a nutshell:

Asthma can be aggravated by stress or emotional problems. It can often be unexpressed frustration, anger, but may also be grief, anxiety or other emotions. Once you know what provokes an attack, examine your lifestyle and decide how best to deal with the hysterical emotion. The best way out is to strive to avoid getting into situations which trigger the emotions.