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Caffeine shown as effective at reducing exercise-induced asthma symptoms as an albuterol inhaler

By Connie Wan, P.h.D | October 15th, 2019

An Indiana University (IU) study found that the ingestion of caffeine within an hour of exercise can reduce the symptoms of exercise induced asthma (EIA).  

The caffeine study involved 10 asthmatic subjects who had EIA, in a randomized, double-blind double-dummy crossover study. The volunteers ingested 3, 6, or 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight or a placebo an hour before running on a treadmill. Pulmonary function tests were conducted 15 minutes before the a eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea challenge (a surrogate for an exercise challenge) and then again 1, 5, 10, 15 and 30 minutes afterward.

The results show that a large dose — 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight — was as effective as the use of an albuterol inhaler, a common medicated for treating or preventing exercise-induced asthma.  Smaller amounts of caffeine — 3 and 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight — also reduced the wheezing, coughing and other symptoms of EIA.  For a person weighing 150 pounds, 3 to 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight equals around 200 to 600 milligrams of caffeine. 

The prolonged use of medications such as albuterol can result in reduced effectiveness.  In addition, there is growing concern about the potential side effects of inhaled corticosteroid use.  The IU study suggests that caffeine may be a good alternative in reducing the EIA symptom or severity.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference:

  1. Timothy A. VanHaitsma et al., Comparative and Synergistic Effects of Caffeine and Albuterol on The Severity of Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction, American College of Sports Medicine Conference, 2019
  2. Indiana University. “Caffeine Shown As Effective At Reducing Exercise-induced Asthma Symptoms As An Albuterol Inhaler.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090531102507.htm>.