Emotions and airway resistance in asthma: Study with whole body plethysmography


Address reprint requests to: Andreas von Leupoldt, Psychological Institute III, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 5, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail: andreas.vonleupoldt@uni-hamburg.de.


The role of emotions as potential triggers of asthmatic airway obstructions was examined by whole body plethysmography. Three affectively homogeneous picture series (IAPS) were presented with video glasses to induce pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral emotional states in 32 asthmatic and 32 nonasthmatic participants while they were seated in a Jaeger Bodytest plethysmograph. Airway resistance, specific airway resistance, thoracic gas volume, and mood were measured immediately after each presentation, in addition to specific airway resistance before and during each presentation. Airway resistance and specific airway resistance were significantly increased after and during pleasant and unpleasant stimulation compared to neutral stimulation in asthmatic patients and also, but less pronounced, in nonasthmatic controls. The results show that the experience of pleasant and unpleasant emotions can provoke increased airway resistance especially in asthmatic patients.