What do you drink in the morning? If you're anything like me, it's strong coffee. But have you ever thought about how caffeine affects your asthma? In this blog post, we will discuss caffeine and asthma. We'll talk about what caffeine does to airway function, if it is safe to drink before a lung function test, and more!
What is asthma?
Asthma is is a chronic condition that causes difficulty breathing, chest tightness and coughing. There is no cure for it but there are treatments to help you manage asthma symptoms.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
Coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of asthma.
Who can get asthma?
Almost everyone will experience an episode of wheezing or shortness of breath at some point in their life; however, not everyone has asthma. People with relatives who have had asthma seem more likely to develop the disease themselves than those without any family history. Some risk factors include: cigarette smoke exposure during pregnancy and early childhood; low socioeconomic status; small airways (a narrow bronchus); allergies such as pollen, cat dander, dust mites or mould spores; infections like pneumonia and viral illnesses which affect lung function.
When did studies into caffeine and asthma begin?
People think that caffeine being linked to helping asthma sufferers is something new, but it isn't. Caffeine has been studied for its effects on asthma since the late 1800s.
How can caffeine affect asthma?
Caffeine has a protective effect against asthma by relaxing the airways and reducing inflammation in the lungs, kind of like the asthma medication theophylline. It has also been shown to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
One study found that caffeine before exercise reduced shortness of breath in people with asthma by up to 18%.
In one trial, participants who drank caffeinated coffee were less likely to have an attack than those who had decaffeinated coffee or no caffeine at all. Those drinking a moderate amount also reported improved lung function and slept better during the night after consuming caffeine.
How much caffeine is good for asthma?
The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommends limiting caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams per day (equivalent of around two cups of coffee). This includes caffeinated coffee, tea, or chocolate beverages.
- If you have symptoms like wheezing and coughing then stop drinking all sources of caffeine until those symptoms disappear.
Other than its caffeine content, how else is coffee good for you?
It may also have a protective effect on the liver, and it's full of antioxidants. We've covered the benefits of coffee in a lot more detail here.
How much caffeine is too much? What negative effects can caffeine have on you?
If you have too much caffeine, then you might experience a headache, jitters, or trouble sleeping.
If you have any doubts about your caffeine intake, speak with a doctor before making changes that could affect your asthma treatment.
Caffeine is helpful for people with asthma in many ways:
- It reduces inflammation in the lungs, which is like what an asthma medication called theophylline does.
- Caffeine has been shown to reduce how often someone will have an attack by up to 18% (see this Cochrane review).
- In one trial, participants who drank caffeinated coffee were less likely to have an asthma attack than those who had decaffeinated coffee or no caffeine.