Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.
Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it’s important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust treatment as needed.
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or have symptoms all the time.
Asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include:
- Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
- Increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working)
- The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often
- For some people, asthma signs and symptoms flare up in certain situations:
- Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
- Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
- Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets (pet dander)
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
Studies cite THC’s ability to dilate respiratory passages and inhibit coughing as factors that make it beneficial for some patients. Cannabis actually does the opposite of tobacco smoke in that it expands, rather than constricts bronchial passageways.
However, while there seems to be almost universal agreement that THC opens up airways, this information has always come with the warning that smoking may have adverse health effects, including tissue inflammation and throat irritation. Over the long term, this can lead to impaired overall lung function—the last thing an asthma sufferer wants to worry about.
The most common pharmaceutical method of treating asthma attacks is through the use of corticosteroids delivered through inhalers that vaporize the medication. Asthma patients may also be familiar with a nebulizer, which is a tabletop machine that does the same thing. Therefore, Asthma patients would be advised to use a vaporizer to ingest their medical marijuana.
Official Research Reports
Acute and Subacute Bronchial Effects of Oral Cannabinoids (Gong H Jr, Tashkin DP, Simmons MS, Calvarese B, Shapiro BJ, 1984)
Comparison of Bronchial Effects of Nabilone and Terbutaline in Healthy and Asthmatic Subjects (Gong H Jr, Tashkin DP, Calvarese B, 1983)
Bronchodilator Effect of delta1-tetrahydrocannabinol Administered by Aerosol of Asthmatic Patients (S J Williams, J P Hartley, and J D Graham, 1976)
Effects of smoked marijuana in experimentally induced asthma (Tashkin DP, Shapiro BJ, Lee YE, Harper CE, 1975)