Fast Food Linked to Severe Asthma

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Fast food is available in almost every community within the United States. While most people already know fast food isn’t the healthiest option, many don’t realize just how negatively it can impact the body. Recent studies link consumption of fast food to conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, cancer, and certain allergic diseases. Those may not come as a surprise. But you may not realize fast food’s link to severe asthma.

 One out of every 13 Americans lives with asthma, a condition which interferes with the body’s ability to breathe normally. Of these people, a significant number experience severe asthma. This potentially life-threatening condition results when airways swell and become inflamed. People living with severe asthma tend not to respond to traditional therapies, and must seek out more intensive treatment.

Preventing severe asthma attacks starts with identifying triggers and reducing your exposure to potential risk factors, including fast food. Working together with your healthcare team is the best way to manage your diet so you can better control your severe asthma.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Severe Asthma

The Link Between Severe Asthma and Diet

Studies have already identified common asthma triggers, such as pollen, certain medications, conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or air pollutants. But new research shows fast food, a staple of the Western diet for many, also increases your likelihood for severe asthma symptoms.

The research, which analyzed 16 separate studies, found a significant association between consumption of fast food and severe asthma, along with other conditions like wheezing and severe eczema. It’s thought that a poor-quality diet results in more inflammation in the body, which can make asthma symptoms worse. Additionally, the study showed people who eat high quantities of fast food often neglect to eat other, more nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to help protect the body against inflammation.

Managing Severe Asthma

Your allergist or pulmonologist will help you create an asthma action plan which details how you should take your medications and what you should do if you have a severe asthma attack. In many cases, doctors manage severe asthma with long-acting maintenance inhalers, fast-acting rescue inhalers, and oral medications to help keep symptoms from occurring. In some cases, doctors recommend treatment with injectable medications designed to better control your immune system’s response to asthma triggers.

Your doctor can also help you plan a healthier diet that avoids fast food. Doing so may help reduce the number of asthma attacks you experience, as well as boost your overall health. Since asthma is usually a life-long condition, making healthier dietary choices should be a long-term goal of treatment.

Making dietary changes may seem daunting, but doing so can have a tremendously positive effect on your health. If you have severe asthma, switching away from fast food is a good option to better manage your symptoms. Since fast food activates your immune system in negative ways and promotes inflammation, it’s best to make other food choices. Healthier foods, such as vegetables and fruit, may actually help protect your body against asthma attacks. Your doctor can assist you in determining which foods may help you manage your symptoms as well as possible.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 18
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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