12 doctors weighed in:

I'm just wondering, if you're an asthmatic, how can you tell the difference between an asthma attack and a panic attack?

12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Steven Machtinger
Internal Medicine - Allergy & Immunology
6 doctors agree

In brief: Coughing

Asthma attacks and panic attacks share some characteristics - shortness of breath, chest discomfort, increasing heart rate & anxiety.
Coughing accompanies these symptoms in asthma and is not usually present in an anxiety attack.

In brief: Coughing

Asthma attacks and panic attacks share some characteristics - shortness of breath, chest discomfort, increasing heart rate & anxiety.
Coughing accompanies these symptoms in asthma and is not usually present in an anxiety attack.
Dr. Steven Machtinger
Dr. Steven Machtinger
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Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Sometimes difficult.

Shortness of breath is a scary sensation so, when a person is short of breath, they tend to be anxious.
Conversely, during a true panic attack, a person may feel that they can't breathe. Therefore, the end result looks quite similar. You would need to be evaluated during the episode to determine which it is. (ex.If there is wheezing/desat, likely asthma whereas clear lungs/normal sat likely panic).

In brief: Sometimes difficult.

Shortness of breath is a scary sensation so, when a person is short of breath, they tend to be anxious.
Conversely, during a true panic attack, a person may feel that they can't breathe. Therefore, the end result looks quite similar. You would need to be evaluated during the episode to determine which it is. (ex.If there is wheezing/desat, likely asthma whereas clear lungs/normal sat likely panic).
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Dr. Sue Ferranti
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Dr. Samuel Gubernick
Internal Medicine - Allergy & Immunology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Panic attack

Also keep in mind that many people with asthma will develop a panic attack at the onset of their asthma attack and the two can co-exist and be very hard to differentiate.
This is also true of elderly patients with copd. Often their COPD exaccerbation responds to an anxiolytic such as a benzodiazepine (in addition to ususal treatment).

In brief: Panic attack

Also keep in mind that many people with asthma will develop a panic attack at the onset of their asthma attack and the two can co-exist and be very hard to differentiate.
This is also true of elderly patients with copd. Often their COPD exaccerbation responds to an anxiolytic such as a benzodiazepine (in addition to ususal treatment).
Dr. Samuel Gubernick
Dr. Samuel Gubernick
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