Gasp! Facebook Could Cause Asthma Attacks

18-year-old suffers asthma attacks after viewing ex-girlfriend's profile

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(RxWiki News) Allergies, exercise, smoking … a number of triggers can set-off an asthma attack, but now you can add social-network Web sites to the list.

Yep. You read it right. Facebook, the most popular social networking site, has been shown to provoke an asthma attack in a young man who became short of breath when viewing his ex-girlfriend’s profile, according to a team of Italian scientists. Facebook is a Web site that links friends and family and offers members a chance to update their status, i.e. what they’re doing, what they’ve eaten... and who they’re dating (or flirting with).  

Apparently this young man’s ex-girlfriend “un-friended” him on the site, which prompted him to create a new account with a false identity, allowing him access to view her profile. What he found there took his breath away – literally – when he discovered that she had befriended many new young men. He suffered shortness of breath every time he saw her picture.

Following advice from a doctor, the man measured his peak expiratory flow (how well a person can exhale) before and after visiting Facebook. He found that his lung function depleted after visiting the site.

After ruling out other environmental triggers, scientists suggested Facebook spurred the asthma attacks.

“The patient resigned not to login to Facebook any longer, and the asthma attacks stopped,” the physicians wrote in the study. “This case indicates that Facebook, and social networks in general, could be a new source of psychological stress.”

Asthmatic Facebook and MySpace users take heed: Sufficient serum levels of vitamin D may help, according to a recent study. Results from the study found that people with low levels of vitamin D had a hard time controlling their condition. So if you’re afflicted with asthma and like to keep tabs on what your ex is doing from the convenience of your computer, you might consider getting more sun or stocking up on supplements.

Asthma, a chronic pulmonary disease, causes attacks that happen when airway tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs become inflamed and narrow in response. Mucus forms and further narrows the airways.

No one is sure what causes asthma. About 22 million people in the United States are affected, though. Symptoms of an asthma attack (the tightening of muscles of your airways) include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Feelings of panic and anxiety often accompany an attack.

So you can only imagine how the subject of Italian study felt when he discovered his girlfriend had moved on: fear, panic, dread, anxiety … and an unmistakable tightness in the chest. Turns out, she still took his breath away every time he looked at her – but not for the reasons she once had done.  






Last Updated:
March 9, 2011