A considerable amount of contradictory evidence has accumulated
on the issue of whether the consumption of alcoholic drinks is
likely to encourage or suppress the symptoms of asthma in susceptible
individuals. Doctors working at Baltimore Hospital where asthmatics
are admitted as emergency cases, have now evaluated a wide variety
of reports on different aspect of the question. They conclude
that doctors should counsel patients (especially Asians) to avoid
alcoholic drinks. They also point out that alcohol itself may
afford relief in asthma and that it is so well attested that there
is a possibility that alcohol may be used in the future to treat
patients who do not respond to conventional drugs.
Asthma (chronic lung disease) which can happen vary rapidly, in
response to triggers ranging from emotion and exercise to air
pollutants, causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing,
as the air ways become inflamed and narrowed. Does alcohol, or
indeed other constituents of alcoholic drinks affect the process?
Alcoholic drinks have been used since ancient times to relieve
asthma and other respiratory conditions and indeed, modern reset
has shown that alcohol can help to dilate the airways that become
restricted during an asthma attack. Several studies have clearly
demonstrated that moderate doses of alcohol given to asthmatic
persons dilate the airways and thus facilitate breathing.
Some experiments have suggested that alcohol can help asthma suffers
by reducing the sensitivity of the airways to substances in the
environment which would otherwise trigger an attack. Over time
it may be possible to alter the immune system in such a way that
it does not "over-react" to such environmental triggers.
A possible reason for the divergence of evidence is that while
alcohol per se probably has a positive therapeutic effect on asthma,
other constituents of alcoholic beverages work as an allergen
and can provoke or worsen an attack. The authors of this review
therefore advise patients not to drink in an attempt to alleviate
asthmatic symptoms, this being especially true for Asians where
most of the adverse consequences were seen.
Source.The role of alcohol in Asthma: A review of Clinical and
Experimental studies, American journal of emergency medicine (2001),
19, 501-503, Cuddy R., Guohua L ., Department of emergency Medicine,
The Johns Hopkins school of Medicine, and hospital..