The Surprising Effects of Asthma on the Body

Asthma is an illness that many people experience at some point in their lives, with most asthma sufferers experiencing more than one episode of the disease. It’s estimated that about 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, and about 3% of the population has experienced asthma symptoms in the last 12 months. Asthma can be managed through medications, such as inhalers and steroids, as well as lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercising regularly. But did you know that asthma can have an effect on your body beyond what you see? Here’s how asthma affects your body beyond the obvious symptoms.

Difficulty Breathing

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects over 25 million Americans. It causes breathing difficulties, where the patient might experience shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. These symptoms can vary from person to person and can be triggered by a number of factors including pollen, dust mites, animal dander or colds. When these triggers are present, it’s not uncommon for someone with asthma to use their inhaler – a medication which opens up airways in the lungs and helps them breathe more easily. Contrary to popular belief, asthma does not cause wheezing or shortness of breath from mucus buildup in the bronchioles; instead it causes inflammation inside those airways.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, bronchospasm, and increased airway responsiveness. Wheezing is a high pitched noise that occurs when there is an obstruction in your airways and you exhale. It can be caused by asthma, but it also can come from other illnesses like emphysema or pneumonia. Long term wheezing may have serious health effects including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Though only 10-25% of people with asthma experience wheezing, it is one of the most common symptoms and can make breathing very difficult for those with more severe cases. In addition to lungs being impacted, the ears and nose can also become irritated because breathing through the mouth has negative effects on their health as well. If not treated correctly, both could become infected which would require antibiotics to clear up.


Many people who have asthma will experience coughing, especially at night. This is because asthma causes a restriction in air flow to and from your lungs. When you inhale, your bronchi (the tubes that carry air to your lungs) are constricted and this often irritates the lining of your throat. The irritation can cause a cough reflex which then makes it difficult for you to sleep soundly through the night. Another common symptom of asthma is shortness of breath. One way this occurs is when people with asthma have an attack or flare up – their breathing becomes labored and they are short of breath as they try to get enough air into their lungs.
Another way shortness of breath occurs is when there’s inflammation in the lining of your bronchi due to an allergy or infection; this inflammation restricts airflow even more than usual, making it even more difficult for oxygen-rich air to reach your cells. To make matters worse, these symptoms can occur very quickly – within minutes or hours instead of days like most allergies or infections.

Tightness in the Chest

Asthma is a chronic disease that triggers an inflammatory response in the airways and lungs. This inflammation causes swelling and narrows the airways, which makes it difficult for those with asthma to breathe. The most common symptom is tightness in your chest or shortness of breath. Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty swallowing (especially at night). These symptoms can come and go. They may not happen all the time but may flare up when you’re sick, exercising, stressed, or exposed to certain things like smoke from cigarettes or pollution from factories.
A lot of people don’t know that asthma has many effects on more than just the respiratory system- it can also affect sleep habits as well as mood! Asthma can cause sufferers to have trouble sleeping because breathing difficulties interfere with REM sleep patterns- without enough REM sleep, sufferers may feel groggy during their day.


Asthma causes fatigue for a variety of reasons. If you have asthma, you may experience a decrease in physical stamina due to how it affects your breathing. This can lead to feelings of tiredness and diminished energy levels. Another reason why you might feel fatigued is because when asthma attacks worsen, they often interrupt sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation is a known cause of fatigue, so this is an additional factor that contributes to this symptom. In addition, some medications used to treat asthma can also cause symptoms such as drowsiness and lethargy, which contribute to feelings of fatigue.


Anxiety is more likely to develop in people with asthma. Studies show that people with asthma have an increased risk for depression and anxiety, which may be attributed to their inability to fully engage in daily activities or because they are constantly worrying about having an attack. For some people with asthma, these symptoms lead to other mental health conditions such as panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research also suggests that the medications used to control asthma can cause adverse side effects like mood changes, impulsivity and loss of self-control. In addition, people with chronic asthma face not only respiratory problems but also skin irritations due to excessive use of creams, ointments and lotions; gastrointestinal issues due to dietary restrictions; insomnia due to constant worry over an upcoming asthmatic episode; decreased fertility; obesity due to diminished exercise capacity; headaches from continuous inhaler use
and persistent coughing; difficulty speaking clearly from airway inflammation; changes in personality stemming from feelings of vulnerability and dependency caused by this chronic illness

Trouble Sleeping

People with asthma often have trouble sleeping because they need their inhalers, and it can be hard to sleep while trying not to cough. The act of breathing deeply in order to use the inhaler often results in a dry throat, which can lead to trouble sleeping. Furthermore, people who are struggling with asthma often experience something called sleep fragmentation or interrupted sleep, which is characterized by waking up often during the night. This is because asthma symptoms can interrupt your sleep at any time during the night and cause you to wake up when you don’t want to.

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