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Study identifies sexual activity as asthma trigger

Can allergists help marriages by discussing sex as potential asthma trigger?

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen from Unsplash.com

When people with asthma wonder what forms of exercise might cause an asthma flare, they may not take sexual relations into account. A study presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Louisville, KY, shows that sex can be an undiagnosed trigger for asthma exacerbations.

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.”

The study collected available literature on sexual intercourse as an underdiagnosed trigger for asthma exacerbations. The authors searched the PUBMED database for a variety of keywords including “sexual intercourse OR 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.”

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