asthma attack vs panic attack

Mariah Brown

written by

Mariah Brown

update on

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on the topic of asthma attack vs panic attack. Are you searching for information because you’ve experienced these conditions and want to understand the differences? You’re in the right place. This article aims to provide you with valuable insights into both asthma attacks and panic attacks, their symptoms, causes, and how to differentiate between them. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of these two conditions and be better equipped to recognize and manage them. So, let’s jump right in!

asthma attack vs panic attack

As someone who has experienced both asthma attacks and panic attacks, I know how important it is to distinguish between the two. These conditions can be confusing and even frightening, but understanding their unique characteristics is crucial for proper management and seeking the right help. In this article, we’ll explore the distinct symptoms, triggers, and treatments for both asthma attacks and panic attacks. Let’s delve into this topic and shed light on the key differences between the two.

The Differences: Asthma Attack vs Panic Attack

Understanding Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks are primarily related to the respiratory system. They occur when the airways in your lungs become narrow, making breathing difficult and triggering a range of distressing symptoms. Common symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing, particularly at night or during physical activities
  • Rapid breathing

Asthma attacks are typically triggered by specific allergens or irritants, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or exposure to tobacco smoke. Exercise, stress, and respiratory infections can also provoke an asthma attack. It’s vital to seek medical attention during an asthma attack to receive appropriate treatment and prevent further complications.

Understanding Panic Attacks

Panic attacks primarily involve intense periods of overwhelming fear or anxiety, often without a specific trigger or apparent cause. Unlike asthma attacks, panic attacks are not directly related to the respiratory system. Here are some common symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Heart palpitations or a fast heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Feeling of choking
  • Shortness of breath or smothering sensation
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

Panic attacks often arise unexpectedly and can be extremely distressing. They may last for a few minutes or linger for a longer duration. It’s important to remember that panic attacks are not life-threatening, although they can mimic certain symptoms of other serious conditions. Seeking appropriate help and understanding the underlying causes of panic attacks is essential for effective management.

Diagnosing Asthma Attack vs Panic Attack

Proper diagnosis is essential for distinguishing between asthma attacks and panic attacks. Since the symptoms of both conditions can overlap, a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional is crucial. They will consider your medical history, perform a physical examination, and may order additional tests, such as:

  • Pulmonary function tests to assess lung function
  • Allergy tests to identify potential triggers
  • Cardiac evaluation to rule out any underlying heart conditions
  • Psychological assessment to investigate any underlying anxiety disorders

By conducting these assessments, healthcare providers can accurately diagnose whether you’re experiencing asthma attacks, panic attacks, or possibly a combination of both. Additionally, they can develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Treatment Options for Asthma Attack vs Panic Attack

Both asthma attacks and panic attacks can be effectively managed with appropriate treatment. Let’s explore the treatment options for each condition:

Treating Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks are commonly treated through a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. The primary goals of asthma treatment are to control symptoms and prevent future attacks. Treatment options for asthma attacks include:

  • Quick-relief medications (such as inhalers) to provide immediate relief during an attack
  • Long-term control medications (such as corticosteroids) to reduce airway inflammation and prevent future attacks
  • Avoidance of known triggers, such as allergens or irritants
  • Educational programs to learn proper inhaler techniques and overall asthma management

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan that outlines specific steps to take during an attack or to prevent attacks. It’s important to follow your asthma action plan and regularly communicate with your healthcare team to ensure optimal management of your condition.

Treating Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be effectively managed through a combination of therapy, self-help techniques, and, in some cases, medication. Treatment options for panic attacks include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to identify and modify thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to panic attacks
  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation
  • Exposure therapy to gradually confront and overcome fears associated with panic attacks
  • Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to help manage anxiety symptoms

Working closely with a mental health professional is crucial for managing panic attacks. They can provide you with the necessary tools and guidance to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks, improve coping mechanisms, and enhance your overall well-being.

HTML Table Breakdown: Asthma Attack vs Panic Attack

Criteria Asthma Attack Panic Attack
Primary Symptoms Wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing Rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain
Respiratory System Involvement Yes No
Common Triggers Allergens, irritants, exercise, stress, respiratory infections None specific
Treatment Approaches Medication, avoidance of triggers, lifestyle changes Therapy, relaxation techniques, medication (if necessary)
Life-Threatening Potentially, if not appropriately managed No

Frequently Asked Questions about Asthma Attack vs Panic Attack

Q: Can asthma attacks and panic attacks occur simultaneously?

A: Yes, it is possible to experience symptoms of both conditions simultaneously, which can be challenging to differentiate. Seeking medical evaluation is crucial to accurately diagnose and manage your symptoms.

Q: Are asthma attacks more common in children or adults?

A: Asthma attacks can occur in both children and adults, although they are more prevalent in childhood. Early diagnosis and proper management are essential in pediatric cases to ensure optimal respiratory health.

Q: Can anxiety trigger an asthma attack?

A: Yes, anxiety and stress can act as triggers for asthma attacks, exacerbating symptoms in susceptible individuals. It’s important to manage anxiety effectively to reduce the risk of asthma attacks.

Q: Can a panic attack cause a heart attack?

A: While panic attacks can mimic symptoms of a heart attack, they are not life-threatening in the same way. However, if you’re experiencing severe chest pain or are unsure about the cause, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention for proper evaluation.

Q: Are there any significant long-term complications associated with asthma attacks?

A: If asthma attacks are not properly managed, they can lead to long-term complications, such as decreased lung function, recurrent respiratory infections, and a reduced quality of life. Seeking proper treatment and following an asthma action plan can help prevent these complications.

Q: Can panic attacks occur during sleep?

A: Yes, panic attacks can occur during sleep, often waking individuals abruptly and causing intense discomfort and fear. If you experience panic attacks during sleep, it’s essential to seek professional help to determine the underlying causes and develop appropriate management strategies.

Q: Can anyone experience panic attacks, or are they specific to certain individuals?

A: Panic attacks can affect individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. They are not specific to certain individuals and can occur in anyone, often without a clear cause or warning.

Q: Is it possible for asthma attacks and panic attacks to be misdiagnosed?

A: Yes, misdiagnosis can occur if symptoms are vague or overlapping. This highlights the importance of seeking a comprehensive evaluation from healthcare professionals specialized in respiratory health or mental health to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Q: Can asthma attacks or panic attacks be prevented?

A: While it may not be possible to completely prevent asthma attacks or panic attacks, proper management can significantly reduce their frequency and intensity, allowing individuals to lead healthier and more manageable lives. Following preventive measures and treatment plans is the first step towards prevention.

Q: Is it common for asthma attacks and panic attacks to coexist with other conditions?

A: Yes, asthma attacks and panic attacks can sometimes coexist with other conditions, such as anxiety disorders or chronic respiratory conditions. Identifying and addressing these underlying conditions is crucial for effective management and improved overall well-being.

Q: Can lifestyle modifications help reduce the risk of asthma attacks and panic attacks?

A: Yes, lifestyle modifications can play a significant role in reducing the risk of both asthma attacks and panic attacks. Strategies such as avoiding triggers, practicing stress management techniques, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet can contribute to overall improvement in symptoms and better disease management.


Understanding the differences between asthma attacks and panic attacks is essential for proper recognition and management. By now, you should have a clearer understanding of these conditions and how they differ from each other. Remember, seeking medical help from qualified healthcare professionals is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and optimal treatment. Be proactive in managing your health, follow treatment plans, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support. By doing so, you can take control of your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Check out our related articles for more helpful information on this topic.


1. (Source 1)

2. (Source 2)

3. (Source 3)

Leave a Comment