Wednesday, June 26

Asthma vs Panic Attack

I Know You Can't Breathe But Are You Feeling Panicky Today?
I've never understood screening asthmatic patients for panic attacks- 

Do you feel panicky? Well, not as much as a I did a few moments ago. I've got air atm courtesy of the psuedo adrenalin I enhaled in large quantities on the way here. But as soon as this stuff wears off I'm probably gonna be in trouble again.

Do you feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest? Well yeah, technically I just overdosed on Albuterol... that's what Albuterol does. Go ahead, take my pulse and you tell me if you think I should feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. 

**Or my favorite**
Are you stressed? Um... I can't breathe...I'm having an ASTHMA ATTACK.... so yes, I'm a little stressed right now. Maybe my oxygen starved brain isn't pronouncing it right and that's why you are asking these silly questions. That's A S .....

It always is a d*ed if you do d*ed if you don't scenario. If you stay calm (which is what I've been taught to do, getting anxious does nothing but waste oxygen faster) they don't believe that you are really having that much trouble breathing. If you act anxious about not breathing they jump to panic attack and start asking you questions like the prior ones. Short of not taking your inhaler and letting yourself pass out there's not much you can do to speed the process along. Chance is you are going to get waylaid by one process or the other. I will admit to some dark thinking on the not taking my inhalor a time or two ;-p

More then once I've ran into someone (like another parent of an asthmatic child) who, despite a history of asthma in the family, was originally diagnosed with panic attacks. The catch being that the attacks just weren't helped much by the medicine for such things. What good are mood elevators during an asthma attack... I'm sorta betting that the natural primal I'm suffocating! instinct is going to beat out man made happy pills any day. Eventually they thought to request pulmonary function tests (hint asthma seems to be very genetically linked). Low and behold... they never had panic attacks, they had mild (or worse) asthma. Not severe enough to make it immediately obvious when panic attack was such an easy diagnosis. Not something that merely relaxing can fix, either.

Seriously though, what better time to panic then when you aren't getting enough oxygen? Seems pretty instinctual panic time to me, right? The fact that the individuals were actually asthmatics always seems obvious in hindsight. So.... if you know anyone that has a family history of asthma who's been diagnosed with panic attacks without even looking into asthma... maybe mention the possibility- just in case ;-)

Moral of the story.... Oxygen Deprivation = Panicking. With a capital Duh! =p

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