Does Coffee Help Asthma?

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages across the globe. In the United States, the average consumption is about three cups per day, and 9 out of 10 adults choose to drink a cup at breakfast.

In the United States, about 25 million people have asthma or 1 in 13 Americans (this number represents about 8% of adults and 7% of children who are affected). Statistically, women appear to have asthma more than men.

Studies show that caffeine has a similar affect as a weak bronchodilator (a type of medication that makes breathing easier), which can temporarily relieve and improve lung function for up to two to four hours after consumption. However, coffee will not bring the quick relief or have a strong affect that bronchodilators provide such as albuterol.

This article will discuss whether coffee is good for asthma, its side effects, risks, and how to effectively use its therapeutic properties.

Woman holding a cup of coffee

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Coffee and Asthma

A study in Korea examined the relationship between coffee and asthma (green tea and soda were also included) based on growing evidence that sugary drinks like soda during pregnancy, childhood, and adulthood may lead to asthma development; researchers hypothesized that coffee (and green tea) may act as a bronchodilator and help in alleviating allergic inflammation.

Researchers analyzed the frequency of the participants (3,146 with asthma and 158,902 with no history of asthma) beverage intake followed by the amount they consume. Their findings showed that coffee consumption lowered the frequency of asthma, and surprisingly seemed to have more of a positive affect among the female subgroup compared to the male subgroup.

Researchers also discovered that the association between asthma and coffee is linked to the effects of methylxanthines (weak bronchodilators) that are found in coffee. Researchers concluded that consuming one cup of coffee, one to two times per day, may have protective effects against asthma.

Benefits

Apart from acting as as bronchodilator, caffeine has several therapeutic effects that also reduces respiratory muscle fatigue.

A study found that the consumption of caffeine prior to exercising may reduce the symptoms of asthma. Yet, the dose required to alleviate asthma is too high that is can cause side effects. It is recommended that you don’t substitute treatments prescribed by your healthcare provider with caffeinated beverages for asthma relief.

Coffee also has additional benefits: It contains antioxidants and other substances that may reduce inflammation and protect against some diseases. One study found individuals who drink coffee are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes (coffee may help process glucose better).

Drinking coffee—regular or decaf—also has a protective effect on the liver enzymes, according to researchers, and dark roast coffee decreases breakage in DNA strands, which can lead to cancer.

Risks and Side Effect

If you consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine, its effects of on the body may include:

Check with your healthcare provider if you should limit your intake of caffeine for the following conditions:

How to Use Coffee for Asthma

Consuming coffee in low to moderate amounts is safe if you have asthma, however it should not be used as replacement for asthma treatment. If you are scheduled to take a pulmonary function test (PFP) that determines the severity of your asthma, small amounts of coffee can affect the results of the test. Because of caffeine’s temporary affect on the lungs, it can show that your lungs are better than they actually are. If you are scheduled for a pulmonary function test avoid drinking coffee for at least four hours. 

Summary

Coffee is a common beverage that many people drink each day. Studies have shown that it can alleviate asthma symptoms because it acts as weak bronchodilators. However, these effects are temporary, lasting two to four hours.

Although coffee has antioxidant properties and reduces the risk of some medical conditions, too much of a good thing can also come with its own set of side effects and risks. You can enjoy your morning or afternoon coffee in moderation, but remember that it is not a replacement for your prescribed medication to treat asthma.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee?

    Generally, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95-200 milligrams of caffeine.

  • How much caffeine is in decaf coffee?

    The decaffeination process removes about 97% of the caffeine from beans. In general, a cup of decaf will have approximately 2 milligrams of caffeine.

  • How long does caffeine last?

    The level of caffeine in your blood peaks within one hour of eating or drinking caffeine, and stays at this level for several hours for most people. You may still feel the effects of caffeine for four to six hours.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 9 reasons why (the right amount of) coffee Is good for you.

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