Exams could worsen asthma
- By: Helen Barratt
As thousands of students approach finals in the next few weeks, there is now evidence to suggest that the stress at this time may exacerbate symptoms in people with asthma. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports that researchers from the University of Wisconsin have found that stress associated with exams can increase the sensitivity of airways, increasing the local inflammatory response to antigens such as cat dander.
Twenty undergraduates (11 men and 9 women) with mild asthma were exposed to an inhaled antigen on two occasions: during a low stress period—such as the middle of the term or two weeks after exams—and during the week of their finals. The immediate decrease in lung function in response to the antigen was identical during both the examination and low stress periods. Blood tests, however, showed that the inflammatory response was much greater during the exam period—for example, participants