Effects of Caffeine on Asthma Patients

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 22, 2012

According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, caffeine helps to improve the function of the respiratory airways in people with asthma for up to four hours. There have been several studies over the years to support caffeine as a treatment for asthma. The research results have been conflicting with some researchers relating it to chemicals while others promising respite from respiratory conditions by reducing inflammation.

Caffeine as a Treatment for Asthma

  • Caffeine acts as an inflammation reducer similar to how theophylline (bronchodilator drug for opening the lungs) does. Due to inflammation reducing properties, it is also being used in pain relievers to increase efficacy. Caffeine present in coffee, tea, cola drinks and cocoa helps to relieve the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing and breathlessness.
  • Caffeinated drinks reduce the stress of inflammation as well as swelling in the lungs.
  • Indiana University researchers have found that caffeine is as effective as asthma inhalers in reducing breathing difficulties caused by exercise. Furthermore, researchers were also of the opinion that caffeine has fewer side-effects in comparison with inhalers and other asthma treatments.
  • The Cochran Collaboration scientists reviewed six studies that were intended to find the effect of caffeine consumption in adult asthmatics. Findings were positive as the researchers observed that the effects of caffeine were better than placebo intake. The research was inconclusive to support caffeine as the cure, though severity and frequency can be moderated with caffeine.

Side-effects of Caffeine for Asthmatics

Health experts warn asthmatics for over-consumption of caffeine as they may encounter nervousness, dizziness, increased urination and insomnia. Furthermore, sensitive individuals are at higher risk of alleviating blood pressure and heart rate due to caffeine consumption. Therefore, moderate caffeine consumption is advisable and should be avoided early in the day.

Caffeine gets passed to the brain quickly. It gets absorbed and leaves the body through the urine after many hours post consumption. As there is no nutritional need for caffeine, there are threats of over-consumption that can be avoided. Among other side-effects of caffeine include fast heart rate, anxiety, depression, sleeping difficulties, nausea, urinating problems and vomiting.


Caffeine cannot be considered an alternative to medications and treatment for asthma. Medical consultation is recommended for managing caffeine consumption so that it has no side-effects. Furthermore, asthmatics already on theophylline prescription should avoid drinking large amounts of caffeine as the chemical formulation could be fatal. Caffeine may be a temporary solution for respiratory respite, but not a full-time solution.



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