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Monday, July 18, 2011

Coffee for asthma?

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I'm always hearing something new about ways to treat asthma, the latest one I heard involves drinking coffee to treat asthma. According to a New York Times article, caffeine has a substance that acts similar to theophylline, which is a drug used to treat asthma.

Can caffeine replace theophylline? The Times article says that coffee can result in a small improvement in lung function for 2-4 hours. But it also says that the improvements are very slight, not enough to act as a replacement for medication.

If you are having problems breathing, I would not suggest drinking coffee! Use your inhaler! If you feel like your inhaler isn't working, call your doctor. The majority of people (medical personnel included) don't use their inhalers properly. So, you may not be getting as much medication into your lungs as you think you are. Simply changing the way you use your inhaler can improve your asthma dramatically. Click here to view an asthma telehealth by David Young, a pharmacist who discusses common mistakes people make when using their inhaler. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "In the World of Asthma, Device Matters")

Also, if you suffer from heart problems or other issues, you need to be careful about your how much caffeine you drink. Especially if you are drinking coffee after using your inhaler. That can be too much stimulation for your heart.

So, bottom line? Coffee can have a minimal effect on asthma, but is not a substitute for your asthma inhaler. And too much caffeine combined with the inhaler can affect your heart.

Be skeptical! There are some weird claims floating around......


  1. Actually, started giving my son coffee for his 6 months after he was diagnosed and was continuing to have issues and he quit having problems altogether. It was a hail Mary play as didn't have the funds right then for all his meds. That was 10 years ago and he hasn't had a problem since.

  2. Hi Amy, thanks for visiting my blog!

    I'm glad that worked for him. Every case of asthma is different. And he may be one of the lucky kids that could "outgrow" his asthma. No such luck for us, my asthma is lifelong since I have allergies too.

    Many doctors don't recommend coffee (or even caffeine soft drinks) if their patients have heart conditions.

    Sounds like your son is doing well! I'm glad he doesn't have to deal with asthma for the rest of his life! :)

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