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Study Suggests Links Between Anxiety, Asthma and Balance

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on September 5, 2012

Study Suggests Links Between Anxiety, Asthma and BalanceAnxiety is associated with a lack of balance, and it can also intensify asthma symptoms. 

But there has been little research into whether balance abnormalities can impact asthmatics.  A new study aimed to investigate the link between anxiety, imbalance and asthma.

Muscle and joint movements are controlled by brain signals, which are, in turn, sent from stimuli received by the eyes and inner ear. This mechanism is also controlled by the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, including anxiety.

For the study, researchers measured levels of anxiety in 30 people with persistent controlled asthma as well as a control group without asthma. Participants answered questions from an established questionnaire, the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults, designed to measure anxiety levels.

Researchers also tested balance through dynamic posturography, a measure of posture control in various positions.

The findings confirmed prior research showing that people with asthma often suffer with anxiety problems. In fact, 88 percent of the asthmatics had a moderate or intense anxiety level, compared with 46 percent  in the control group.

The results also showed that the asthmatic group performed more poorly in the balance test, compared with the control group.

The researchers suggest that balance problems should be investigated in asthmatics, particularly those with already high levels of anxiety, to prevent a worsening of symptoms.

“Our research has shed light on an area of asthma that has received little attention. The links we’ve seen between brain, lung and labyrinth 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 author Dr. Angelo Geraldo Jose Cunha, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“This study had confirmed that asthma has many clinical expressions that go beyond symptoms solely affecting the lung. In addition to health care professionals paying attention to balance disorders in asthmatics, this field of research requires further investigation to fully understand the link between balance, anxiety and asthma.”

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Vienna.

Source:  University of Sao Paulo

 

 

Teenager using an asthma inhaler photo by shutterstock.

 

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2012). Study Suggests Links Between Anxiety, Asthma and Balance. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/09/05/study-suggests-links-between-anxiety-asthma-and-balance/44163.html