When you think of asthma, the symptoms that most likely to come to mind are shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Fatigue and exhaustion are not usually referenced as common asthma symptoms. However, people with asthma often report feeling tired.

Asthma can cause fatigue. Fatigue can also worsen asthma. In this article we’ll go over the association between asthma and exhaustion, and provide information on prevention and treatments that can help.

Asthma is an inflammatory disease that impacts the airways of the lungs. It’s a chronic condition that can be managed and controlled, but not cured. There are different types of asthma that have differing triggers, including allergens, upper respiratory tract infections, exercise, and pollution.

For adults and children with asthma, fatigue may reduce quality of life. Potential causes of asthma-related fatigue include:

Uncontrolled or frequent symptoms

Uncontrolled asthma is earmarked by daily symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. It is associated with respiratory disturbance, sleep disturbance, and nighttime flare-ups, all of which can cause daytime tiredness.

One 2013 study on children found that those who had frequent asthmatic symptoms experienced daytime fatigue more often than those with occasional or no symptoms. This finding was independent of each child’s sleep quality or the amount of time spent in bed.

Severe asthma

If medication isn’t keeping your asthma symptoms under control, your doctor may recommend testing for type 2 inflammation and severe asthma. One telltale symptom of this form of asthma is having asthma symptoms which wake you up most nights. Not enough sleep at night can cause exhaustion during the day.

Nocturnal asthma

Nocturnal asthma, including nocturnal bronchial asthma, is not completely understood. It is earmarked by nighttime development of airway obstruction. It may be a form of uncontrolled asthma or a completely different entity. Most asthmatics state that their symptoms are worse at night.

According to data, gastroesophageal reflux disease and obesity both seem to exacerbate this condition, which causes daytime sleepiness to occur.

Low blood oxygen levels

Asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are not only tiring, but when severe, they can reduce oxygen levels in the blood. This can lead to fatigue.

Chronic coughing

Coughing can be exhausting. Severe coughing can cause muscle strain, leading to a feeling of weakness and tiredness.

Asthma flare-ups (asthma attacks)

Asthma flare-ups cause swelling of the airways and a tightening of the muscles that wrap around them. This makes it significantly harder to breathe, plus it can cause anxiety. This is stressful for the body and brain, and may result in you feeling very tired once the asthma attack has passed.

Some people with asthma say that tiredness seems to precede flare-ups. While there is no data to support this, fatigue, uncontrolled asthma, and flare-ups can create a vicious circle.

Symptoms you may experience include:

If fatigue and uncontrolled asthma symptoms or flare-ups are happening to you, talk to your doctor. Modifying your medication regimen may help to significantly reduce or eliminate nighttime asthma symptoms. This will help you to get uninterrupted rest and a good night’s sleep.

Let your doctor know if you have consistent problems with acid reflux. If you are diagnosed with GERD, you may benefit from specific medications that help reduce reflux. This may eliminate episodes of nocturnal asthma.

Also, talk to your doctor about your weight if you think it may be a factor. Obesity can exacerbate asthma symptoms in adults and children. This can disrupt sleep, cause chronic coughing, and exacerbate fatigue.

If you have an asthma attack, you are going to feel tired afterward. This is your body’s way of telling you to take it easy. Recovery from a severe asthma attack takes rest. If possible, put work, school, and chores on hold for a day or two.

This may be a good time to reassess your sleep routine and nighttime hygiene habits. Tweaking habits, such as limiting blue light exposure close to bed, may help.

Getting fresh air and very light exercise, such as walking, may help you recuperate and feel refreshed. Activities such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, and meditation may help you quiet your mind and relax your body.

To prevent asthma-related exhaustion, try these tips:

Avoid asthma triggers

  • Avoiding your specific asthma triggers will help reduce flare-ups and the fatigue they can cause.
  • Make sure to pay special attention to your bedroom and any triggers it may contain. Use dust-mite covers on your pillows and mattress, and wash linens often.
  • Keep dust mites at bay by vacuuming and dusting your bedroom several times a week.
  • If pet dander is a concern, keep pets out of your sleeping space.
  • Don’t allow cigarette smoking inside your home.

Create a serene sleeping environment

  • Adhere to a nighttime routine you can count on.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages too close to sleep time. These can disrupt your natural circadian rhythms, further disrupting sleep and adding to fatigue.
  • Keep the humidity in your home at a comfortable level.

Keep your symptoms under control

  • Monitoring your symptoms and checking your airways with a peak flow meter will help you manage asthma better. This should help reduce fatigue. Peak flow meters are hand-held devices that measure your ability to push air out of your lungs.
  • Take your medications as directed, and always have a rescue inhaler nearby.

Remember that fatigue is often a sign of uncontrolled asthma. If you are unable to sleep and tired most days, check in with your doctor. A change in medication may be all you need to reduce or eliminate fatigue.

Coping with asthmatic symptoms can make you feel tired. Being fatigued may be more likely to occur in people with uncontrolled asthma, nocturnal asthma, and asthma flare-ups.

Both children and adults with asthma experience fatigue. A change in medication protocol, as well as avoiding asthma triggers, can help.