7 doctors weighed in:
How can you know if shortness of breath is caused by asthma or anxiety?
7 doctors weighed in

Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine
2 doctors agree
In brief: Testing...
The optimal way is to have pulmonary function testing done while experiencing these symptoms.
In addition, a physician examining/ evaluating you while these symptoms are present will likely be able to tell the difference. For example, if your lungs sound clear and your oxygen level is normal, it is likely anxiety whereas, if you are wheezing with a lower oxygen level it is more likely asthma.

In brief: Testing...
The optimal way is to have pulmonary function testing done while experiencing these symptoms.
In addition, a physician examining/ evaluating you while these symptoms are present will likely be able to tell the difference. For example, if your lungs sound clear and your oxygen level is normal, it is likely anxiety whereas, if you are wheezing with a lower oxygen level it is more likely asthma.
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Thank
2 comments
Dr. James Glauber
Of course it may not be feasible to have pulmonary function testing while having these episodes. An alternative is to ask your doctor for a peak flow meter to take home. You should know what you can blow when your breathing is fine and then you can check it while having shortness of breath. A significant decline would suggest that you are having asthma.
Dr. Helena Bentley
With anxiety/hyperventilation, usually there is no cough or wheezing. Asthma will almost always have cough with or without audible wheezing. If you are short of breath, even with ?wheezing, and there is no cough and chest tightness, it is probably anxiety.
Dr. Andrew Murphy
Internal Medicine - Allergy & Immunology
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Difficult to answer
Shortness of breath is a symptom of asthma but not all shortness of breath means asthma.
Further complicating this is that anxiety can be a trigger for asthma flares. You will need to speak with your doctor to figure this out.

In brief: Difficult to answer
Shortness of breath is a symptom of asthma but not all shortness of breath means asthma.
Further complicating this is that anxiety can be a trigger for asthma flares. You will need to speak with your doctor to figure this out.
Dr. Andrew Murphy
Dr. Andrew Murphy
Thank
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Blow on a piece...
...Of paper a foot away.
If you can get it to fly away the same way as you could before, it's probably not an asthma attack.

In brief: Blow on a piece...
...Of paper a foot away.
If you can get it to fly away the same way as you could before, it's probably not an asthma attack.
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Thank
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