People with respiratory problems should be cautious in their use of acetaminophen. These are the results of a large cross-sectional study from Great Britain. In the latest piece of mounting evidence British researchers pointed out that people who take acetaminophen regularly are at a higher risk of developing asthma. There are new indications that the drug may worsen respiratory disease and is also linked to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
The study used previously collected data from nearly 13,500 people and was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care. It demonstrated that daily users of acetaminophen are more likely to report asthma (odds ratio=1.81) and COPD (odds ratio=1.94) than patients who say that they never used acetaminophen. The study also investigated the relationship between respiratory illness and ASA as well as ibuprofen. Neither of the two seemed to be significantly related to the incidence of respiratory illness. The team of authors led by Dr. Tricia McKeever of the University of Nottingham did spirometry (lung function tests) and found that daily acetaminophen users had an impaired lung function of a 54 ml lower forced expiratory volume per second (FEV1). Ibuprofen users taking the medication between 1 and 5 times a month showed improvement of a 20 ml increase in FEV1. The benefit did not appear in non-users and those who took the medication on a daily basis.
The researchers strongly recommend that patients with respiratory disease should consult with a physician and consider carefully, whether or not to take acetaminophen.
Helping asthmatics to breathe easier has also been the subject of Japanese research. In a small prospective study Japanese researchers compared the need for inhaled corticosteroids between two groups of patients with allergic asthma. One group found new homes for the pets they were allergic to; the other opted to keep the animal at home. At the end of the 15-month average follow-up none of those who removed the pet were taking daily corticosteroids. Opposed to the first group, all but one of the patients who continued to live with their cat, dog, hamster or ferret were on daily corticosteroid treatment ranging from 200 mcg to 1600 mcg per day. Many asthma patients with animal allergies refuse to part with furry friends, but those who can fare better with less medication.
More info on asthma: http://nethealthbook.com/lung-disease/asthma-introduction/
Reference: The Medical Post, May 31, 2005, page 49 and 50
Last edited October 28, 2014