Written by Dennis Mann
Thursday, November 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The stronger sex can trigger an asthma attack in people with chronic lung disease, just like intense exercise, according to new research.
“There is a lack of current literature available on the prevalence of intercourse that presents as exercise-induced asthma,” said study author Dr. Ariel Leung, MD, chief of resident internal medicine at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California.
This may be because sex is not always the easiest topic to discuss with your doctor.
“When intercourse-induced asthma is properly recognized and treated, allergists are put in a position to improve the quality of life of their patients and even their marriages,” Leung said.
She noted that when it comes to the risk of an asthma attack, having vigorous sex is like climbing two flights of stairs.
The same actions that prevent asthma during exercise can also help ward off a sex-triggered asthma attack.
“We recommend that patients take their short-acting beta-agonist inhaler 30 minutes before sexual intercourse to prevent an asthma attack,” Leung said. “Some patients may think it’s getting away from romance, but there’s nothing more romantic than taking care of yourself and not noticing your partner has an asthma attack.”
The wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness that are hallmarks of an asthma attack are caused by inflammation that narrows the airways. It cannot be cured but it can be managed.
Besides taking medications as directed, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating well can also help keep asthma symptoms at bay, Leung says.
If asthma symptoms persist [despite current treatment]We highly recommend that you see your allergist because you may need control medication to better control your asthma.”
For the new study, researchers searched the medical literature for articles on sex as a trigger for asthma attacks using keywords such as “sexual intercourse,” “honeymoon asthma,” “sexual behavior and allergies,” and “allergic reaction.”
Other than a few case studies, they haven’t found much. However, they did find more research on allergy risks and asthma triggers than semen or latex condoms.
The research was presented Thursday at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), in Louisville. Results presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“There is little literature on sex as an asthma trigger,” said Dr. Jonathan Romeo, an allergist in Raleigh, North Carolina, who chairs the ACAAI’s Asthma Committee.
He said that this link is not surprising.
“Any physical exertion is likely to trigger an asthma attack,” said Romeo, who was not involved in the new study.
If you have asthma, discuss potential triggers, including sex, with your partner, he advised.
“If attacks persist despite using your traditional prevention and control treatments, talk to an allergist about what else you can do,” Romeo said. “It’s a sensitive topic so most people ponder it, but having an open conversation with your allergist can help.”
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has more on exercise-induced asthma.
SOURCES: Ariel Leung, MD, chief resident, St. Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, CA; Jonathan Romeo, MD, an allergist, Raleigh, NC, and chair of the Asthma Committee of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI); Presentation, ACAAI Meeting, Louisville, Kentucky, November 10, 2022