Sexual activity could trigger asthma flare-ups, study reveals

"We wanted to investigate whether case studies on asthma exacerbations mentioned sexual activity as a possible cause."
Nergis Firtina
Shot of a couple’s feet poking out from under the sheets.
Shot of a couple’s feet poking out from under the sheets.

Dean Mitchell/iStock 

Asthma is a chronic disease that results from the overreaction of the small bronchi and bronchioles to various stimuli, causing the narrowing of the airway. This is accompanied by inflammation in the airways.

During asthma flare-ups, breathing is difficult as wheezing, and there is often a cough. In some patients, asthma can cause COPD if it is not controlled with medications. Although there are many causes of asthma flare-ups, a new study has revealed that sexual activity can also cause these attacks.

The novel study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting this year in Louisville, Kentucky.

"We wanted to investigate whether case studies on asthma exacerbations mentioned sexual activity as a possible cause,” said Ariel Leung, MD, an ACAAI member and lead author of the study.

“Many people don’t realize that the energy expenditure of sexual activity is about equivalent to walking up two flights of stairs. Reported cases are infrequent, possibly because those suffering an asthma flare may not realize the trigger.”

Sexual activity could trigger asthma flare-ups, study reveals
Human Respiratory System Lungs Anatomy.

Honeymoon asthma or allergic reaction

The study compiled the available research on sexual activity as an underdiagnosed cause of asthma flare-ups. The authors looked for a number of terms in the PUBMED database, such as sexual activity, honeymoon asthma or sexual behavior, and allergy or allergic reaction.

“Another possible cause of underreporting of this condition is the intimate nature of the subject,” says allergist A.M. Aminian, MD, an ACAAI member and co-author of the study.

“People may not be comfortable discussing with their allergist an asthma flare that was caused by sex. But allergists are specialists in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of asthma. If anyone would be able to guide a patient in how to avoid an asthma flare in the future, it would be their allergist. When sexual activity-induced asthma is properly identified and treated, allergists are better able to improve their patient’s quality of life."

The causes of asthma

Combinations of intricate and still poorly understood environmental and genetic interactions lead to asthma. These affect both how severe it is and how well it responds to treatment. It is thought that shifting epigenetics—heritable variables other than those connected to the DNA sequence—and a changing environment are to blame for the current rise in asthma incidence. The likelihood that asthma will develop before the age of 12 is higher than the likelihood that it will develop beyond that age due to environmental factors.

About ACAAI

With its headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the ACAAI is a group of more than 6,000 allergists, immunologists, and other healthcare specialists. The College promotes a collaborative and friendly environment where its members cooperate with one another and with others to advance the shared objectives of patient care, advocacy, education, and research.

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