6th February 2021
By Roland Sebestyén
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A landmark survey points out that while only 40% of asthma sufferers have consulted with their physicians, half of those struggling with uncontrolled asthma still smoke cannabis. US Researchers claim it is unknown how cannabis affects people with various allergies and asthma.

A survey published in a journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says patients suffering from asthma smoke and vape cannabis despite the fact that doing so has a negative impact on their lungs.

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The survey found that while almost 66% consume cannabis for medical purposes, only 40% talked to their physicians about it – or on the other hand, only a small number of doctors monitor their patients’ frequent cannabis use.

William Silvers, MD, allergist and expert on cannabis allergy told ACAII: “In order to more completely manage their allergy/asthma patients, allergists should increase their knowledge about cannabis and inquire about cannabis use including types of cannabinoid, route of use, reasons for use, and adverse effects.

“As with cigarette smoking, efforts should be made to reduce smoking of cannabis, and recommend other potentially safer routes such as edibles and sublingual tinctures.”

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes breathing problems. The symptoms vary, but are most commonly characterised by coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.

It is thought that there are several “triggers” and “risk factors” that cause flare-ups. Smoking, for example, or taking certain kinds of medicines can aggravate the symptoms. Other factors such as obesity, depression, and anxiety can also play a role.

The difference between uncontrolled and severe asthma is that while uncontrolled asthma can be managed more easily with the proper medical treatment plan in place, severe asthma can resist such treatments and it is much harder to ease the symptoms, let alone cure the patient entirely.

When treating uncontrolled asthma, plans may include inhaling corticosteroid and other controlled medicine. However, if the treatment fails to mitigate the symptoms for 3-6 months, then the patient may actually suffer from severe asthma, which could eventually require a visit to a specialist.

As the American Lung Association writes, the signs of severe asthma are insomnia, more than one emergency departments visit a year and eventually hospitalisation.

Demand for medical cannabis has been growing significantly over the last few years as more people have turned to the drug for its potential health benefits. However, the authors of the above-mentioned survey reiterated that there was no proof that cannabis could assist in tackling asthma.

At the same time, though, the survey found that the vast majority of the respondents reported that they had experienced “positive effects” following cannabis consumption.

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