Antibiotics for asthma? Most people think of antibiotics as medications to treat bacterial infections, but can they treat asthma in children too? That’s the question Danish scientists at the University of Copenhagen Asthma Center are asking – and for good reason. New research shows that bacteria play a role in triggering asthma attacks.
Antibiotics for Asthma?
Doctors know that viruses are a powerful trigger for asthma in children. Studies show that four out of ten asthma attacks are brought on by a simple viral infection. Even the cold virus can cause airways to spasm – leading to the characteristic wheezing and shortness of breath asthmatics experience.
How do viruses trigger asthma? When viruses gain entry to the respiratory tract, they produce inflammation. This causes the cells lining the airways to produce too much mucous, which clogs the respiratory passages and leads to bronchospasms.
Can Bacteria Trigger Asthma in Children Too?
When Danish researchers examined 361 children who were having severe asthma attacks, they discovered the number of children who harbored lung bacteria during an asthma attack was just as high as those with viruses.
This isn’t the first time that bacteria have been implicated as an asthma trigger. In a 1999 study, researchers isolated disease-causing bacteria from over forty-percent of sputum cultures obtained from children with asthma.
Other studies show a relationship between Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumonia, and asthma in children. These bacteria cause pneumonia in children and adults – and, apparently, trigger asthma too.
Antibiotics for Asthma in Children: Would It Help?
Doctors traditionally treat asthma in children with inhalers that open up the airways along with inhaled steroids to reduce inflammation – but this study raises the question of whether antibiotics for asthma could offer additional benefits. Researchers are planning a large study to see if treating asthma with antibiotics is effective, at least during an acute asthmatic attack.
Antibiotics for Asthma: The Bottom Line?
Just as viruses can trigger asthma, bacteria may do the same. Until more is known about using antibiotics for asthma, it’s important for adults and children with asthma to avoid exposure to viruses and bacteria that could trigger asthma attacks. Practice good hand washing, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep – particularly during the winter months. It’s also a good idea for asthmatics to get a seasonal flu vaccine.
Are there natural ways to reduce the risk of a viral or bacterial infection that could trigger asthma? Certain foods such as white button mushrooms, yogurt with probiotics, garlic, and white tea have all shows anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits in small studies. These may be good foods for fighting off infections that could trigger asthma.
Eurekalert.org.”Bacteria to blame in asthma attacks in children”