Asthma and Coffee

Here are some facts about the relationship between Asthma and Coffee. Regular coffee drinkers have about 1/3 less asthmatic symptoms than those of non-coffee drinkers according to a Harvard researcher who studied 20,000 people.

For the past several years, many experts have touted how horrible coffee was for our health and that the drinking of caffeinated coffee should be immediately ceased. Recently, however, several studies have shown that caffeinated coffee can actually be extremely good for people. One of the groups of people who can reap health benefits from drinking caffeinated coffee is those people who are asthmatic.

In particular, drinking caffeinated coffee in the situation of an emergency onset of asthma can allow the patient to breathe easily. Doctors have recommended coffee as an emergency way of treating asthma patients who find themselves with a sudden onset and no medication for many, many years.

In Scotland, as evidenced by the Edinburgh Medical Journal, Asthma and Coffee are good for each other. While not recommended for exclusive treatment, one to two cups of strong coffee may help open airways. This asthma and coffee treatment can help a patient who is suffering from an onset of asthmatic symptoms and finds himself without an inhaler breathe more easily until the inhaler can be obtained.

This emergency asthma and coffee treatment has proven extremely effective due to the similarities between caffeine and a tried-and-true asthmatic medication known as theophylline. The similarities between these two chemicals lead doctors to routinely advise patients who are about to undergo tests for lung function to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages for one to two days prior to the time of the test.

Several large asthma and coffee studies conducted in the past few years have examined the relationship between drinking coffee and the prevalence of asthmatic symptoms. A study of over seventy thousand Italians showed that there was a significant reduction in the appearance of asthmatic symptoms among patients who regularly drink coffee. The risk of asthmatic symptoms fell by 28% when patients drank three or more cups of coffee every day.

In 1992, the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey examined over twenty thousand Americans. The asthma and coffee study found that the risk of symptoms from patients with asthma going into the study fell dramatically (over 29%) when patients who regularly drank coffee were compared with patients who did not drink coffee on a regular basis. In addition, the risk of patients suffering from wheezing fell almost 13%. A relationship was also found between the amount of coffee consumed and the effects gained by the asthmatic patients. Those who drank more coffee had fewer symptoms; those who drank less coffee had more symptoms.

Another smaller asthma and coffee study was performed on nine adult asthmatics using four daily doses of caffeine similar to the doses contained in coffee. This study showed a dose response effect of caffeine on forced expiratory volume (FEV), forced expiratory flow (FEF) and specific airway conductance (Gaw/VL). This data also suggests that caffeine is an effective tool to use in opening airways during an onset of asthma.

While doctors will never advise drinking coffee as the sole treatment for asthmatic symptoms as they did hundreds of years ago. They do agree that the caffeine found in coffee is particularly beneficial in an emergency situation. Evidence shows that people have used coffee in situations where inhalers were completely unavailable, such as when on vacations and on an airplane. Coffee is particularly useful in these situations, as the patients might otherwise suffer serious consequences due to their inability to breathe properly.

1. Salter, H. Edinburgh Medical Journal, 4, 1109-1115, 1859. 2. Pagano, R et al. Chest, 94, 386-389, 1988. 3. Schwartz, J. and Weiss, S.T. Annals of Epidemiology, 2, 627-635, 1992. 4. Gong, H. et al. Chest, 89, 335-342, 1986.

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    On one particular occasion I had left my inhaler at home and had an asthma attack while at my parent's house. I had heard that coffee can help and, as …

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