Laughter Induced Asthma is No Joke

Laughter Induced Asthma

To better understand laughter induced asthma, researchers from New York University's Medical Center studied a group of more than 200 asthmatics to learn more about what triggers their symptoms and to identify any patterns that exist.

Their findings, which were presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in 2005, identified some clear connections between asthma and laughing, which may help physicians to better educate their patients about this relationship. 

The Findings

First, researchers discovered that the symptoms of laughter induced asthma are similar to those caused by a host of other triggers. These symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and a tightening feeling in the chest. The experts also noted that the symptoms were the same regardless of how deep and long the patients laughed. This means that even giggling can spark a reaction.

Differences that Exist

While the link between asthma and laughter is clear, though, the reason for the connection was less obvious, prompting researchers to take a closer look at study participants in an attempt to discover possible differences in the symptoms of people prone to laughter-induced asthma compared with those who don't experience this phenomenon.

All of the patients participating in the study had similar health histories, including the severity and duration of their asthma symptoms. But one of the only notable differences among those prone to laughter-induced asthma was a predisposition to experience exercise induced asthma as well. In fact, 65 percent of patients with laughter induced asthma also had exercise as a trigger, while only 35 percent of the people without laughing asthma had symptoms induced by exercise.

Some Possible Explanations

Researchers believe that when it comes to the cause of laughter induced asthma, there are several possible explanations. First, the motion of laughing creates movement in the airways that may be enough to trigger an attack. Further, the emotion involved in laughing can also come into play, making patients more prone to this effect. Finally, people whose airways are sensitive to the stress of exercise may also react to the effort of laughing in much the same way.

What You Can Do

If you find that laughing seems to trigger your asthma symptoms, you shouldn't treat this as a joke. The experts recommend following your doctor's orders to manage your asthma and to also be prepared with your inhaler and other medications so you can treat the symptoms right away.




The American Thoracic Society