Final Exams Worsen Asthma

Published Online: Saturday, June 1, 2002

A study involving 20 college students with mild allergic asthma showed that their stress levels during examination week increased their degree of airway inflammation after an antigen challenge. As reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the student?s increases in sputum eosinophils and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels at 6 and 24 hours after an inhaled antigen challenge (dust mites, cat dander, ragweed) were significantly increased during exam week, compared with a low-stress period. ?Our data suggest that psychologic stress associated with final examinations may augment the allergic response to inhaled allergen,? said the study?s lead author, William W. Busse, MD, of the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

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