Volume 4, Issue 24
June 16, 2011

The only time salt makes
asthma worse

I recently received a letter that asked a very important question about asthma. Marshall K. asked, “I’ve heard that eating salt can aggravate asthma. Is this true?”

Depending on where you go in this world you will find greater or fewer cases of asthma. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases here in the U.S. in recent years. Of course, we can attribute the most likely cause for the disease to differences in the environment and/or cultural differences in diet. And, as you’ve probably heard, several observational studies have suggested that dietary sodium (table salt) may play a role. But is this true?

A recent study may hold the answer.

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The authors of the study looked at the results of all of the experimental studies they could find as of November 2010. They considered only those studies that either decreased the sodium intake of patients with asthma or increased the intake. And they looked only at studies that were placebo controlled.

They found nine studies involving 318 people with asthma. They found another four studies that looked specifically at 65 patients with exercise-induced asthma. What did they find?

There was absolutely no relationship at all between how much sodium the patients had in their diets and whether their conditions improved or worsened. Specifically, reducing salt intake didn't help anybody. So if you have asthma, reducing salt intake is not going to help you – except in one particular case.

If you have an uncommon form of asthma that is caused by congestive heart failure called “cardiac asthma,” anything that worsens your heart function will aggravate your asthma. And restricting salt intake is very important for optimal heart function when congestive failure is present.

But other than this one instance, which is pretty rare, people with asthma shouldn’t concern themselves with whether or not eating salt will bother their condition.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

REF: Pogson, Z. and T. McKeever. “Dietary sodium manipulation and asthma.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 March 16;3:CD000436.

Copyright 2011 Soundview Publishing, LLC

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