(Last Updated On: June 28, 2023)

Does Caffeine Help Asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. Although there is no known cure for asthma, there are various treatments and lifestyle choices that can help people manage it.

One such lifestyle choice that has been the subject of much debate is caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant found in various foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soda. While some people believe that caffeine can help to alleviate asthma symptoms, others suggest that it may worsen them.

Portrait of a young woman using asthma inhaler with morning coffee

Benefits of Caffeine for Asthma Control

Recent studies have shown that caffeine may provide several benefits for asthma control. One potential benefit is its ability to act as a weak bronchodilator. This means that it can help expand the airways, allowing for easier breathing. In fact, some asthma medications contain caffeine as an active ingredient to enhance their bronchodilation effects.

Caffeine may also improve lung function by reducing inflammation in the airways. Inflammation can contribute to the development of asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath and chest tightness. By reducing inflammation, caffeine can help alleviate these symptoms and improve overall lung function.

In addition, caffeine can enhance the effects of some asthma medications. For example, studies have shown that caffeine can improve the bronchodilation effects of albuterol, a commonly used asthma medication. This can lead to better control of asthma symptoms and a lower risk of asthma attacks.

However, caffeine is not a substitute for medical treatment or asthma medications. While it can provide some relief for mild asthma symptoms, it’s not a cure and won’t address the root causes of asthma.

Can Caffeine Make Asthma Worse?

While caffeine can have bronchodilating effects and may improve lung function, it can also have unwanted side effects and potentially make asthma worse. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. In some people, this can lead to respiratory muscle fatigue and shortness of breath, which can make asthma symptoms worse.

One study found that consuming even moderate amounts of caffeine (around 3–4 cups of coffee) can lead to a decrease in lung function within a few hours after consumption. This decrease in lung function was more pronounced in people with asthma, particularly those with exercise-induced asthma.

Moreover, caffeinated beverages often contain compounds that can trigger asthma attacks. For example, some people with asthma are sensitive to histamine, a compound that occurs naturally in tea, coffee, and cocoa. Histamine can cause chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath in people with asthma.

Additionally, consuming caffeine can interfere with the effectiveness of asthma medications. While it can enhance the effects of some drugs, such as the bronchodilator theophylline, it can reduce the effectiveness of other asthma medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids.

Caffeine consumption can also have potential side effects and risks. Too much caffeine can cause jitters, headaches, and increased heart rate, and can trigger anxiety and insomnia in some individuals. In rare cases, it can lead to dehydration, especially when consumed in large amounts or in combination with alcohol.

Dosage Recommendations for People with Asthma

The amount of caffeine that is right for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your age, weight, and overall health. Generally speaking, it is recommended that individuals with asthma consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. This is roughly equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee or two cups of tea.

Consuming caffeine in excess of this amount can potentially worsen asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, and respiratory muscle fatigue. Additionally, if you take asthma medications, including inhalers or nebulizers, excessive caffeine consumption can interfere with their effectiveness.

If you’re unsure about how much caffeine is safe for you to consume, speak with your healthcare provider. They can provide individualized recommendations based on your specific health needs and can advise you on how to manage your asthma symptoms safely and effectively.


The impact of caffeine on asthma is a complex topic with varying opinions. While caffeine is known to have some potential therapeutic effects for people with asthma, it can also have adverse effects and make asthma symptoms worse if consumed excessively. Pay attention to your caffeine intake and monitor it accordingly, especially if you have a history of asthma or are prone to asthma attacks.

Caffeine is not a substitute for asthma medications or medical attention. If you’re experiencing symptoms of asthma, seek medical assistance and adhere to your prescribed treatments. Overall, it’s best to speak with your doctor about incorporating caffeine into your asthma management plan and adjust your intake accordingly. While caffeine may have some benefits, you need to balance them with the potential unwanted effects. As with any medication or supplement, you should approach caffeine with caution and prioritize your health and well-being.

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