Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
neon lights in the shape of lungs turning on and off

Is It Asthma Or Just Normal

Is “X” condition/symptom due to asthma? Or is it just normal?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what causes a symptom. It’s hard to know what causes a certain condition. Is it caused by your asthma? Or, is it just normal for you? Is it just hereditary? Here’s what I think.

Tremors

I have tremors. My hands shake. Sometimes it’s mild. Sometimes it’s not mild. Sometimes I pick up a plate of food and my hand is shaking so bad I can’t hold the plate. I have to use my other hand to support the first hand to keep the plate stable and prevent food from falling onto the floor.

Usually, if it’s severe, it’s due to some asthma medicine. When I use my Ventolin more than usual, I get the hand tremors. That’s a normal and acceptable side effect. Systemic steroids also cause this. And when I’m on them, I get worse tremors than normal.

I was shaking really bad while taking care of a patient once. A doctor pulled me aside and jokingly said, “You look like you’re going through detox!” Well, I wasn’t. I laughed with him. But, I never forgot the comment. And I will be sure to add it to our ongoing list of things not to say to asthmatics.

But, my dad has hand tremors too. He even takes a medicine for it. My mom also has the same issue. My brother Dan definitely has tremors, maybe even more so than me. He cannot hold a plate EVER with just one hand. And none of them are diagnosed with asthma.

So, this makes me wonder if I’d have tremors whether or not I had asthma.

Anxiety

Yep, I get that too. For crying out loud (mom always said that), I worry about everything. I get stressed easily. I get claustrophobic sometimes. I get social anxiety in crowded areas. I stay up late at night worrying. In fact, so much so my doctor prescribed Benadryl every night before bed.

So, is this asthma?

Sure, many studies link asthma to anxiety. And I do support these theories. But, my mom has anxiety. My brothers admittedly have it. So, is it asthma or hereditary? Who knows. Research is ongoing.

Headaches

For crying out loud. I hate those things. Just thinking of them now makes me feel like I’m developing one. Now I’m worried. And, I think, anxiety brings on many of my headaches. And some turn into migraines. And there are credible studies done linking asthma, anxiety, and headaches.

So, are mine asthma? Are they side-effects of asthma medicine? Or, are they just normal? Who knows.

Stomach trouble

Yep! You guessed it. Stomach trouble is linked to asthma. Credible studies link GERD and asthma. It could be the asthma itself. It could also be a side effect of one of the side effects of one of the side effects. It could also be a side effect of chronic use of theophylline for 30 years. Or, it could be a side effect of chronic use of steroids as a kid. Who knows.

Or, many people have stomach trouble. So, is it just a coincidence I developed ulcers in my past? Is it just a coincidence I have a hiatal hernia diagnosed at age 45? Is it just a coincidence I have GERD? Maybe.

Nasal trouble

I had horrible sinusitis as a kid. I most surely was due to allergies. I had rhinitis often as a kid. My sinusitis may he been a side effect of rhinitis. I developed a deviated septum once. That was probably due to constant nose rubbing. Or, was it? I had to have this repaired with surgery.

Then my nasal issues went away. After my surgery, I was fine. No longer did mom tell me she could always tell where I was by the trail of tissues. That was a nice thing to say to me. It meant things were getting better.

But, were my nasal issues a side effect of asthma?  Was it allergies? Was it just a gene that I carry? Like, no one knows for sure. Some asthmatics have nasal polyps. Those have definitely been linked with asthma. But, are they really?

I mean, we really don’t know for sure. We know a lot for sure. But we don’t know for sure for sure. And that’s why research is ongoing even in regards to nasal problems and asthma.

What to make of this?

The truth is, you can link anything to asthma. Anxiety, GERD, and stomach trouble. Google fill in blank condition or symptoms and you will probably find a study somewhere linking it with asthma. So, are these studies viable? Most often, the authors note that further research is necessary before coming to a final conclusion.

But, what we do know is many of these are seemingly more common in the asthma community compared to the non-asthma community. So, links between these conditions and asthma are definitely worthy of ongoing investigations.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Kerri MacKay moderator
    9 months ago

    Great article!

    I’ve often considered whether or not my headaches were linked to Singulair. But I certainly now take singulair more often than I have headaches. (My headaches have died down significantly once I figured out there was artificial sweetener hiding in the iced tea I was drinking all the time–they changed the ingredients on me, now I read everything more frequently!)
    I still get headaches more often than is probably normal, though–not that I can usually isolate a cause!

    The tremors are fun, too. I remember on a particularly bad asthma day when I was working at the daycare, I took a treatment before I went back to work for the afternoon. A kid noticed my hands shaking while serving snack–what a thing to have to explain haha! Oh the joys of asthma…

  • krishwaecosse
    9 months ago

    I have asthma, hyperthyroidism and graves disease. Some of the symptoms overlap, and I have been asked before by one doctor how do you know this is because of your asthma and not your thyroid? Or vice versa. Tricky.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi krishwaecosse – you’re right, managing all that can be tricky. However, since you’re the one living with these conditions, you are most likely in the best position to determine what your body is telling you. There may be certain “overlaps” but overall i’m sure you know when it’s your asthma as opposed to your thyroid, for instance.
    Do you have a specialist for each condition? Often they are more “sensitive” to the different aspects of each condition.
    -Lyn (site moderator)

  • krishwaecosse
    9 months ago

    Yes I have different specialists. I generally feel I know my own body well and know whether hand tremors are a result of use of rescue inhalers or because of raised thyroid levels. Things like tight chestedness and shortness of breath can be harder to pin down to one or the other, but there are additional symptoms that tend to go with one or the other that help me to understand and manage my own conditions x

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi krishwaecosse – as best as I can recall, this is the first time you’ve mentioned your other conditions to us on this site – we appreciate your candor. Managing several conditions can certainly be challenging – and your physician has asked a probing question? What answer do you have for us? Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi krishwaecosse and thanks for your most recent reply with an explanation. We appreciate you clarifying this for us. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Poll