How Trauma and Asthma are Connected and Nobody Seems to Talk About it

Asthma wasn’t always such a big part of my life. I always got extra sick with respiratory stuff as a kid, but I didn’t start having notable symptoms until high school. My asthma didn’t become severe until I was 24 when I was hospitalized for the first time. That same year I was assaulted. I am a family counselor, I talk to people about relationships, feelings, and trauma every day. It had never occurred to me that trauma is so strongly correlated with asthma.

Childhood adversity impacting asthma

According to the CDC, childhood adversity is directly linked to the likelihood of developing common chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes. The higher a child’s ACE score, the more likely they are to develop a chronic illness and mental health symptoms later in life. I was an adult when I was assaulted. Still, this information leads me to conclude my asthma becoming persistent and severe the year this occurred is hardly coincidental. Discovering the ACE score correlation to physical health has really opened my eyes, and makes me curious why trauma is not more readily linked with chronic illness in the medical field. Trauma and ACE should be part of the intake when speaking with a kiddo with severe asthma or IBD.

Still have poor controlled asthma

My asthma continues to be poorly controlled. Now 27, the past 3 years have included more prednisone than I care to remember, 20lbs of puffy steroid weight, and being told I fall somewhere between severe persistent asthma, IGE, and Eosinophilic - but not enough to qualify for a biological shot yet. I write this now on my 6th week of prednisone in 2019, now certain a career change is in my future. Knowing about stress and trauma’s effect on asthma, I now recognize I cannot continue serving high crisis populations due to its toll on me. I recognize that I could be equally helpful to others if perhaps I do what I know best now - become a respiratory therapist. This summer I will be returning to school to become an RRT. I look forward to helping people advocate for themselves. To be continued...

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