Monday, October 04, 2010

History of asthma: 1981 (alcohol and asthma)

I recently wrote a post on the effects of alcohol and asthma as you can see here. I spent hours trying to find proof that alcohol dries out the lungs and has mold in it, when all I had to do was look in the handout I was given when I was a patient of National Jewish way back in 1985.

In the pamphlet I was given titled, "Learning about asthma," the following was written about asthmatics drinking alcohol. I think this was emphasized in the book because in the 19th century asthma was believed to be physiological (all in your head), and alcohol was sometimes recommended to calm the mind and soothe the effects.

Yet while recent studies do show alcohol has some bronchodilating effects, I would imagine the negative consequences of drinking it negate any good results.

So I know some of my teenage friends at National Jewish did some drinking on the side, and this was a warning to them. So since alcohol was perceived to be an issue with teenagers, and many of us were, this was a warning to us:

C. Alcohol -- becoming the biggest problem with teenagers in the U.S.
1. A habit-forming drug which can cause severe damage to all bodily functions when used in excess, especially stomach, liver and brain cells. In a 14-year-old, cirrhosis of the liver can occur in 20 months of excessive alcohol consumption.
2. Problems for asthmatics
  • a. interaction with asthma medications can cause serious problems
  • alcohol is made from molds and can cause allergic reaction to those with mold allergies
  • dehydration, leading to thickening of mucus in the bronchial tubes, causing more difficulty getting the mucus out
  • depresses bodies ability to cough out mucus and fight off attacks
3. Cause many social problems
  • 3 million alcoholics between 10 and 19 years old
  • 1/2 of all automobile deaths
  • 1/2 of all murders
  • 1/4 of all suicides
  • also child abuse, crime, job absenteeism, shoddy workmanship, job loss are all traced in large part to alcohol abuse

So you can see that the negative consequences of alcohol on asthma were known way back in 1985. Yet in 1988 when I started college and was pressured into my first few drinks, I had completely forgotten what I had learned just a few years earlier.

Yes, I have noticed that when I do drink my asthma is worse the next day. Coincidence? I think not. Anything in moderation is a good thing. Anything abused, especially alcohol, can lead to poor asthma control for us asthmatics.


  1. Asthma and alcohol is a good discussion. I find it's not the alcohol but the sulphites in cheap wine! But you trying buying a bottle of wine you can afford without sulphites in it.
    Personally, I don't drink beer, strangely, it's too gassy for me-and the only spirit I can tolerate is tequila so I'll down a margarita! Bourbon, whilst wonderfully warming for the asthma cough, is too smokey and tends to make me cough!

    A glass of ice cold dry white wine seems to help a bit-probably has the same effect as half a valium on me when I'm extremely SOB.

    My drink of choice=tonic water, minus the gin!-helps the ventolin induced cramps!

  2. I agree completely when I drink if effects my entire body the next day, sometimes I can't even breath trough my nose.