Medical Mondays: Irritated Lungs and Raw Emotions

Feeling Extra Sensitive Lately? 
How Asthma is Helping me Deal with Hurt Feelings in My Marriage

I never know when my asthma is going to flare up. I know some triggers, like candles, fans, and dust. For those, I can often prepare.

However, sometimes I walk outside, feeling just fine, and suddenly I’m having trouble breathing. There’s invisible mold in the air, or something else that suddenly has my lungs clamping up like vice grips and my heart racing in a panic to get enough oxygen to my body and brain.

I don’t like those times, but even after the little crisis moment is over—I’ve used my inhaler and I’m not struggling to physically breathe—I’ve noticed my lungs are over-sensitive for some time afterward. Until the weather changes, and sometimes beyond that, my lungs are irritated and sensitive. Things that wouldn’t normally bother me suddenly do. Things that normally would not be irritants to my lungs now are.

Hmmm. Makes me think of my emotions, too. Have you ever noticed that once your feelings get hurt, you’re over-sensitive toward other things? Words that normally wouldn’t hurt do. Things that normally would not be irritants are. (Then people start joking about you having PMS and that makes it even worse, right?)

My husband says our little girl's pouty lip is just like mine, but I'm not 3 years old, so mine isn't as cute when it comes out!

Is there anything we can do about it? Yes, I believe so.

Here’s what I’ve learned on how to deal with the asthma side of things (maybe you can find some parallels to the emotional side):

1.       If you see a trigger coming (someone just lit a scented candle), try to ward it off (move to a different room, use your inhaler, explain and ask nicely if they could put it out for now).

2.       Sometimes you can’t see it coming (mold in the air). Don’t beat yourself up over not being prepared for it. Deal with it and move on (use your inhaler or go back inside).

3.       Once you’re already irritated, recognize you are extra-sensitive and adapt accordingly. (Don’t get upset that you are over-sensitive and shouldn’t be. You can’t help it, so let go of that guilt trip.)

4.       Admit to yourself that you’re over-sensitive right now and avoid things that will make it worse (Don’t do a double overreaction by making those little irritants into huge big deals. Normally they are not a problem, so admit they are less of a big deal than they feel.)

5.       Get away and give your lungs a chance to settle down and recover. (You’ll stay super-sensitive as long as you are in that environment. Get away from the small and large triggers and give your lungs some peace so they can heal and be strong again.)

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of wise points in there that apply to my emotional triggers as well as my asthmatic ones. I find I can deal with one or two comments by my husband that might be misinterpreted, but for some reason that 3rd one really gets me. By the third one, I mentally decide he’s got some underlying negative feeling he’s trying to communicate, or he is intending to hurt me, or whatever, and suddenly I’m super-sensitive to everything he says and does. Things that normally aren’t a problem are now a huge big deal, and my poor husband is stumped, wondering why today something he did was a major problem when yesterday it didn’t matter a bit.

Sound familiar?

I value my lungs, but I value my husband more. Maybe next time I catch myself being extra sensitive, I’ll get this list out and see if I can apply the principles before my heart flares up. I won’t even need an inhaler for that—just a little right thinking!

 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted...Eph. 4:32


  1. Great advice! Think I'll print it out too!

  2. =) You know, I should do that too!

  3. Have you noticed that you get "emotional" or weepy before having an attack? That is a big one for me when I have flares. So the doctor told me to PAY ATTENTION to my emotions when having asthma trouble. It is a known fact that becasue of the sympathetic and parasympathic nerves, that being emotional is an early onset sign. I'm curious as to what you have noticed. Hope you have a lung full of air escaping easily today!
    Cathy Turner

  4. Oh my goodness-so I'm not the only one who has emotional symptoms. I'm not going crazy after all! =) For me it's not weepy, it's irritated. I've noticed that if I get either a wave of unexplainable fatigue (like drugged kind of fatigue) or I suddenly get really irritated for no reason, then a flare up is coming.
    Wow, that really helped me hearing that you have something like that too. Thank you, Cathy!
    But really, it makes sense. If you're not getting enough oxygen to your brain, it's going to affect your feelings. If you ask me, not being able to breathe is a cause for a good cry! =)

  5. I so get this, Kimberly Rae. I was just talking with someone this morning who is in the middle of grieving a significant relationship and she doesn't understand why certain things "still" hurt. But you are so right to point out that our emotions can become overly sensitive too, especially if we've been wounded. Great words of wisdom here, my friend!

  6. Thanks so much, Beth! I'm glad you dropped by!


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