It is well known that anxiety can exacerbate asthma symptoms, but little research exists into whether balance abnormalities can also have a negative influence on asthmatics.
Today, September 2, new study results will presented at an international meeting showing that asthma patients can experience worsening asthma symptoms because of problems with their balance.
Balance and asthma
Researchers assessed the link between asthma, anxiety and balance because anxiety and imbalance are closely related. Muscles and joints are controlled by signals from the brain, which are, in turn, sent from stimuli from the eyes and inner ear. This function is also controlled by the limbic system in the brain, which is also responsible for emotions, such as anxiety.
The research in a nutshell
The researchers measured levels of anxiety in 30 people with persistent controlled asthma and a control group without asthma. They used an established questionnaire, the Spielberger State–Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults to measure a person’s levels of anxiety. They also assessed balance control using dynamic posturography, which tests a person’s control of their posture in different positions.
The results confirmed previous findings showing that asthmatics regularly suffer with anxiety problems. In the asthma group, 88% of people had a moderate or intense anxiety level, compared with 46% in the control group.
The asthmatic group frequently performed worse in the balance test, compared with the control group.
What the research means
This suggests that balance abnormalities should be considered patients with asthma, particularly those with already high levels of anxiety, to prevent the deterioration of their symptoms.
“Our research has shed light on an area of asthma that has received little attention. The links we’ve seen between brain and lung suggest that asthma symptoms could be much worse in people with balance problems caused by anxiety or in people suffering from balance issues independent of anxiety problems,” said lead researcher Dr. Angelo Geraldo Jose Cunha, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.