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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Inhaler or coffee?

By Veronica Pineda

A can of Coca-Cola might replace an asthma inhaler during a workout.

In 2005 at Indiana University, Timothy Vanhaitsma, who is now a graduate student in the U’s department of exercise and sport science, led a study on the effects caffeine has on those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma. Vanhaitsma’s study was presented at the American College of Sports Medicine in May.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether caffeine would reduce the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. In the study, about nine milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight proved to be just as effective as an inhaler, which, for the average-size male, is equal to two large cups of coffee.

Despite the results, Vanhaitsma said he recommends using an inhaler instead of caffeine.

“The inhaler works much quicker,” he said. “It will work within two to five minutes at most, whereas the caffeine would take about an hour to take effect.”

Vanhaitsma said his interest in exercise-induced asthma sparked when he was an undergraduate at Calvin College in Michigan and noticed that many of his colleagues on the cross-country team had the respiratory disease that occasionally prohibited them from completing a race.

Children and young adults are more susceptible to exercise-induced asthma because of their high physical activity, and in the northern United States, the cold, dry air inhaled through the mouth is a major factor that triggered the attacks, he said.

An inhaler functions as a dilator for when airways swell up because of mucus, and caffeine acts much the same way.

“In case you’re caught without your inhaler, make sure you take caffeine an hour before and drink a lot,” Vanhaitsma said. “The more caffeine the better8212;just don’t take too much.”

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