The interrelationship between beta blockers and asthma is something that has been a concern for various healthcare specialists. On one hand, where beta blockers can help in treating some serious health conditions, they can also cause some chronic ones, including asthma. This article discusses the uses of beta blockers and how it can cause asthma.
Beta blockers are a group of medications that are used to treat various forms of illnesses and ailments including blood pressure, heart problems, glaucoma, hypertension and migraines. They are also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents because they tend to block the effects of the adrenaline hormone in the body.
By blocking the adrenaline effects, the beta blockers can help the heart muscles relax and improve the flow of blood circulation. Because of their ability to relax the muscles, they prove to be extremely beneficial for treating angina, heart attack, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, and few other conditions that call for ‘relaxation’. Some of the most common beta blockers are – Atenolol, Acebutolol, Nebivolol, and Metoprolol. But why do beta blockers cause a problem for people suffering from underlying bronchial asthma? Can asthmatic patients not use these medications to treat their illnesses?
Beta Blockers for Asthma Patients
Our body contains three different types of beta-receptors known as β1, β2, and β3 receptors. The β1 receptors are located in the heart and the kidneys, followed by the β2 receptors which are located in the liver, lungs, skeletal muscles, uterus, gastrointestinal tract, and the vascular smooth muscle. The β3 receptors are found in the fat cells of the body. Now, there are two types of beta blockers that are available, the non-selective beta blockers and the selective beta blockers. As the name signifies, the non-selective beta blockers can block multiple types of beta receptors in the body. On the other hand, the selective beta blockers are designed to block only selective types of beta receptors in the body.
Now, some sources state that cardio selective beta blockers are actually safe for asthmatic patients to consume. On the other hand, experts suggest that though the selective beta blockers are more safe than non-selective beta blockers, there is still a risk for them to cause severe health problems. Therefore, be it selective beta blockers or non-selective ones, people with asthma should avoid this medication at all times. Apart from not being appropriate for asthma patients, these medications are also not advised by healthcare specialists for people suffering from diabetes. This is because these drugs tend to relax the heart muscles, thereby blocking the signs of low blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia in a diabetic patient. Fluctuations in the blood sugar levels of a diabetic patient should be carefully monitored, and beta blockers may pose a problem in doing so.
When a person is suffering from a condition like asthma, other signs and symptoms like anxiety and sleeplessness can occur. Both these conditions result from the shortness of breath and discomfort that occurs in asthma patients during attacks. In this condition, sleeping pills and tranquilizers are something that the patient may ask for, however, make sure that you don’t go for them at all without medical supervision! As far as beta blockers are concerned, some people also use certain short-acting beta blockers for sleep related problems which should again be avoided. So, make sure that you completely avoid beta blockers if you have asthma. It is always best to consult with your doctor for alternate medications and remedies.
Beta blockers, as it is should be taken with a lot of care and caution as there are several side effects that are associated with beta blockers and their usage. While some people experience problems like fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, dizziness, constipation, and cold hands and feet; there are some people who do not experience any problems at all.
In fact, some people who do not have asthma but consume these medications also experience shortness of breath and sleeping problems. Which is why, beta blockers are also known to flare up asthma in patients with underlying bronchial asthma. So, always make sure that you consult a trusted healthcare specialist before you go ahead with using beta blockers for treatment.