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My Thoughts On Asthma And Claustrophobia

My Thoughts On Asthma And Claustrophobia

Sometimes I wonder if asthma causes claustrophobia. It’s a form of anxiety. So, anxiety is linked with asthma. So, I’d imagine claustrophobia is not different. It affects about 5% of people, so I’d imagine there’s some asthma overlap.1

I mean, I’m not terrified in closed spaces. But, it’s not something I enjoy. Still, there’s that stuffy, panicky feeling. But, as in elevators, you deal with it until the ride is over. Like, you know it will end in a minute or two. Plane rides, same thing. They will end in an hour or two. You just deal with it.

My first memory of claustrophobia

The first time I noticed claustrophobia I was in the first grade. Or, at least that’s my first memory. Back then Kindergarten was a half day. So, it wasn’t until the first grade we got to enjoy recess (or not enjoy it in my case.)

We had to put on our coat and snow pants. Coat and hat I can handle. I live in Michigan. It gets cold here. It snows. So, you get used to coats. You may not like them, but you get used to them. Well, in my case you tolerate it.

But, snow pants not so much. I felt so miserable with them on I just took them back off. When I was the only one not outside, the teacher thought I was struggling. So, she helped me put them back on. And she made me go out.

But it was so miserable.

More examples of claustrophobia

I can give you lots more examples. Ever climb to the top of a lighthouse? I did. Once. I climbed to the top of the Big Sauble Lighthouse. I did it with my 6-year old. It was really neat inside. They even let us go out on the balcony up top. It was neat. I think there’s a picture somewhere. If you look closely you’ll see me holding on tight because I’m also afraid of heights.

I had to be cool. I had to stay calm. If not for me, at least for my boy who had no fears at all about being up there, if you know what I mean.

The little lighthouse at Stearns Park I see as I go on my daily walk on the beach. My kids will climb to the top sometimes when it’s open to tourists in the summer. Not me. After my previous lighthouse experience, I just wait outside.

Turtlenecks. Same thing. Masks at work. Same thing. You have to wear them to protect yourself. But, it’s no fun indeed. They are off first chance I get. And that may explain why I don’t wear a mask when cleaning. It’s why I don’t wear a mask when I know I should. I’d rather risk asthma than a mask.

Why the claustrophobia?

Keep in mind I’ve never been officially diagnosed. I have never even mentioned this before this post. But, still, it’s there, lingering in the back of my mind. This is self-diagnosis of claustrophobia. In fact, up until I did my Google search I thought I was the only one. But, apparently other bloggers have pondered the link.2

Well, I have a good theory. I blame my claustrophobia on my asthma. You have asthma. It grips you tight. It squeezes you making it hard, sometimes very hard, to breathe. You feel closed in. You feel panicky. It’s just like the feeling of claustrophobia. It’s the same.

So, that’s why I started putting 2 and 2 together. And that’s why I developed this theory long ago that my asthma and my self-diagnosed claustrophobia are linked. I don’t think claustrophobia causes asthma (but it could if it causes too much anxiety). But, I do think asthma can cause one to develop some degree of claustrophobia.

Just a thought

Now, keep in mind this is just me talking.

This is just my theory. It’s me thinking. And I don’t have “severe’ claustrophobia. Like, it doesn’t affect my life much. It does affect some of my choices. But, when I need to wear a coat, I will. You just won’t see me wearing one often. There are days snowpants would be helpful. I even bought a pair a few years ago. But, I only wore it once and then took Goodwill.

Yep, and I live in Michigan. I just tough out the cold.

So, there were many asthma attacks in this life. When you have no immediate solution, you just learn to stay calm. You learn to do your breathing exercises. You concentrate on your breathing. And, dealing with anxiety and claustrophobia is not much different.

Some experts say some degree of claustrophobia is completely normal.2 Still, it’s something we must deal with. Like having an asthma attack, you try to stay calm and cool as you can. You try to look natural. You try to look like you’re fine. Only, you look for a way out ASAP. And, like dealing with asthma, you go on with your life, living as normal as you can.

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.

  1. Paddock, Mike, “What’s To Know About Claustrophobia,” 2017, Medical News Today, June 23, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/37062.php, accessed 12/10/18
  2. Caminiti, Linda M., “Does Asthma Cause Claustrophobia?” 2014, February 19, Ezine Articles, http://ezinearticles.com/?Does-Asthma-Cause-Claustrophobia?&id=8332295, accessed 12/10/18
  3. Kinderman, Peter, “A bit of claustrophobia is normal--stop treating it as a disease,” Medical Press, 2016, March 7, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-03-bit-claustrophobia-disease.html, accessed 12/10/18

Comments

  • JanetH
    4 months ago

    Another claustrophobic issue guys probably have never thought of: a local lingerie shop owner told me when I was searching for a wireless bra that she had certain bras she recommended to claustrophobic customers. Some women get that sensation from a too-snug brassiere. I have to buy certain brands because honestly, if I’m having an asthma flare, I need to be aware of the snugness of the bra band against my chest.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    You’re right with this account, JanetH! I never even considered that! All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • emmejm
    4 months ago

    I’m not claustrophobic, but I have similarly noticed that I cannot wear turtlenecks (even crewnecks), masks, or even necklaces. The sensation of anything sitting on my collarbones or too close to my throat makes me feel like a caged animal and having a mask on makes me feel like I’m suffocating.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    We hear you, emmejm, and appreciate your post. So glad to see this article resonated with you on this level. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    4 months ago

    I have climbed to the top of a Big Sauble lighthouse and between the narrow, tight curving staircase and my insane fear of heights and asthma, I consider myself a survivor and even purchased a t-shirt to remember it by. Lately when my lungs start to feel tight I get a panicky feeling. It is similar to claustrophobia which I get climbing lighthouse stairs.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    4 months ago

    Yes. It’s ranked as one of the best. Another neat thing to do is climb lookout hill. That’s pretty cool. And it’s a great workout. it’s also far enough from the campground that you don’t have to inhale smoke. John. Site Moderator.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    4 months ago

    Did you camp at the State Park? John. Site Moderator.

  • Shellzoo
    4 months ago

    It is always full when I have vacation time but I checked it out and walked through the campground to get to the lighthouse. I actually started coughing from the campfire smoke. It is the best state park campground I have seen.

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