Posted 12/15/2014 2:01 PM (GMT -6)
I've experienced anxiety and asthma my entire life. However, I'm beginning to think the majority of my asthma is in fact anxiety and that the asthma isn't as bad as I believe. I've gotten some opinions from doctors over the years, but I would love some feedback from other sufferers' experiences. If you're an anxiety/phobia sufferer, you may know how difficult it is to discern what "is in your head" and what isn't.
Regarding my asthma, I've never had a serious "attack" or wheezing. I was diagnosed with athletic-induced asthma as a kid, because i would get short of breath while playing sports. I'm still not even sure what exactly an "attack" is. When I experience asthma, which is once-in-a-while, usually due to allergies, I experience shortness of breath and my inhaler does the trick. Since moving to California from the Southeast, my asthma has come back a tad. I believe it it is both from the pollen and dry climate.
Regarding anxiety, I have suffered from anxiety since I was a child, and, after many panic attacks, have worked on this a great deal over the years--meditation, exercise, diaphragm breathing, etc.. Since moving to the west coast, I've developed phobias of desert climates, high altitude, and snow, because I'm convinced it will trigger an asthma attack. The thought alone deters me from doing any outdoor activities.
At the moment, I'm still not clear of the risk and how to approach potentially risky situations. Example:
My girlfriend loves to camp throughout CA, usually at elevation levels of 5,000-6,000 ft. I have done this several times with her since living here, but it is uncomfortable for me. I've never wheezed but I run out of breath quickly while hiking and must take the inhaler 3-4 times throughout the day. So far from medical attention, this is where the anxiety comes in. Sweaty palms, tight chest, and stiffness. I know it's dramatic, but the thought of not being able to breath in such an isolated place terrifies me to the point I don't want to go to a high elevation or the desert. I'm beginning to avoid driving through the desert or camping at high elevation like the plague.
Am I at risk as much as I think I am at high elevation and the desert, or is this in my head? Is my asthma as bad as I think? Can sufferers of asthma, even in cases worse than me, do these type of outdoor activities?
Due to the fact I've never been hospitalized for asthma and I've done outdoor, often adventurous, things my entire life, I think I should stop worrying and continue with my life?
Thank you to anyone who can offer any feedback.