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By Denise Mann

Health Day Reporter

THURSDAY, November 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Like intense exercise, vigorous sex can trigger an asthma attack in people with chronic lung disease, new research suggests.

“There is a lack of current literature on the prevalence of sexual intercourse presenting as exercise-induced asthma,” said study author Dr. Ariel Leung, chief of internal medicine at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California.

This could be because sex isn’t always the easiest topic to discuss with your doctor.

“When sexually-induced asthma is properly identified and treated, allergists are able to improve their patients’ quality of life and even their marriages,” Leung said.

When it comes to the risk of an asthma attack, having violent sex is like walking up two flights of stairs, she noted.

The same measures that keep asthma at bay during exercise can also help stave off a sex-induced asthma attack.

“We recommend that patients take their short-acting beta-agonist inhaler 30 minutes before intercourse to prevent an asthma attack,” Leung said. “Some patients may think it interferes with romance, but nothing is more romantic than taking care of yourself and not seeing your partner watching you having 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 treated.

In addition to taking medication as directed, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a good diet can also help keep asthma symptoms at bay, Leung said.

“If the asthma symptoms persist [despite current treatment]Seeing your allergist is highly recommended as you may need a control medication to better manage your asthma,” she said.

For the new study, researchers searched medical literature for articles about sex as a trigger for asthma attacks using keywords such as “intercourse,” “honeymoon asthma,” “sexual behavior and allergy,” and “allergic reaction.”

Apart from a few case studies, they didn’t find much. However, they found more research on the risk of allergic reactions and asthma attacks from 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 congresses should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“The literature on sex as a trigger for asthma is sparse,” said Dr. Jonathan Romeo, an allergist in Raleigh, NC, who chairs the ACAAI’s Asthma Committee.

That link isn’t surprising, he said.

“Any physical exertion can trigger an asthma attack,” said Romeo, who was not involved in the new study.

If you have asthma, discuss possible triggers, including sex, with your partner, he advised.

“If attacks still occur despite using your traditional prevention and control therapies, talk to your allergist about what else you can do,” Romeo said. “It’s a touchy subject, so most people just overlook it, but having an open discussion with your allergist can help.”

More information

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more on exercise-induced asthma.

SOURCES: Ariel Leung, MD, chief of internal medicine, Saint Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, California; Jonathan Romeo, DO, allergist, Raleigh, NC, and chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Asthma Committee (ACAAI); Presentation, ACAAI Conference, Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 10, 2022


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Can Sex Trigger an Asthma Attack?
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