Understanding Risks

Asthma and Drinking

Asthma is a disease that affects someone who has it for life, which means that generally, doing things that tend to have a harmful effect on a person's long–term health are much more dangerous for someone who has asthma. Clearly, smoking is incredibly harmful to anyone with asthma, but an interesting dichotomy exists with another substance that most would assume is harmful – alcohol.

Below is a brief look at the two schools of thought that exist in terms of people with asthma drinking alcohol, but regardless of your position, you should make sure to speak to your doctor about drinking before imbibing on any sort of regular basis.


School One – Drinking with Asthma is No Big Deal

Historically, alcohol was actually used to help treat asthma. While this generally occurred before the modern era of medical science, the roots of this school of thought likely trace back to this period. The reasons and theories that many feel that alcohol may actually be of help are numerous, and a few of them are listed below:

  1. Alcohol can help to dilate the airways that become restricted during an asthma attack. This dilation helps stave off attacks or at least the severity of attacks.
  2. There are studies that suggest that reducing the sensitivity of the airways to substances in the environment which would otherwise trigger an attack. This theory also contends that the long-term effects of consuming alcohol could actually alter the immune system in such a way that a stronger defense against normal asthma triggers is built.

Of course, this does not mean that someone with asthma should just start drinking regularly. There are obviously other health risks involved with long-term alcohol use as well as a school of thought below that disagrees with the theories above.

School Two – Consuming Alcohol with Asthma is Dangerous

The other school of thought begins with the foundation that the majority of people with asthma have it because of some link to allergies. Therefore, when someone drinks alcohol, they risk being exposed to certain agents that are ingredients in the drinks that could trigger attacks or worsen attacks.

It seems that the biggest 'culprit' in this regard is wine. Specifically, wine contains histamine and additives such as sulphites. Histamine is associated with the triggering of sneezing, itching, flushing and headaches. Sulphites have also been identified as a trigger for some asthma attacks.

As you see, there is no clear answer regarding whether or not you should consume alcohol if you have asthma. The best course of action is to seek the information and answers you need from your doctor before making any decision by yourself.