Researchers in Naples have found evidence of Facebook triggering asthma attacks. Doctor Gennaro D’Amato and colleagues reported on the case of a depressed 18-year old who, having just gone through a breakup, suffered asthma attacks each time he logged onto the social networking site and accessed his ex-girlfriend’s profile.
The patient had suffered from chronic asthma, which he kept under control with a medicated inhaler. His symptoms were exacerbated by his use of Facebook, deteriorating to the point where he hyperventilated every time he viewed her personal profile.
The sight of his ex-girlfriend seemed to induce dyspnoea, or breathlessness, which then triggered an asthma attack. When asked to self-measure expiratory flow—that is, how well he could exhale before and after logging onto the site—the patient showed a 20% reduction in post-Facebook lung capacity.
Researchers found that his attacks ceased when he stopped using the site. “This case indicates that Facebook, and social networking sites in general, could be a new source of psychological stress, representing a triggering factor for exacerbations in depressed asthmatic individuals”.
The findings echo the warnings of British experts that stressful situations are a trigger for vulnerable patients. “We suggest that this type of trigger be considered in the assessment of asthma exacerbations”, the report concluded.