Botox improves asthma in study

Doctor holding syringe ready for injection

When it comes to smoothing out unsightly wrinkles, Botox is the go-to treatment for many. Australian researchers now report that going under the needle may improve asthma symptoms, as well.

The findings stem from a recent study of 11 patients with treatment-resistant asthma who also suffered from abnormal vocal cord movement. Similar to asthma symptoms, the symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction include difficulty breathing, hoarseness, wheezing, coughing and tightening of the throat. For the study, researchers injected Botox directly into the vocal cords, which caused temporary muscle paralysis. From there, the patients were assessed using asthma control test scores and CT imaging of the vocal cords.

According to researchers at Monash Health in Melbourne, injections to even one of the vocal cords resulted in improved asthma control and reduced narrowing of the upper airway for 60 percent of patients.

Botulinum toxin (Botox) can be used in a variety of unconventional ways that go far beyond improving wrinkles. In fact, the approach is commonly used to treat chronic migraines via a series of injections to the head and neck. It has also been explored in treating urinary incontinence through bladder injections that relax muscles, allowing for improved urine storage in people with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. Additionally, Botox can improve excessive sweating by temporarily blocking the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate sweat glands.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by airway inflammation. This causes difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, wheezing and more. Bronchodilators are typically used in the moment of an attack. Administered via an inhaler or nebulizer, they work by relaxing airway muscles. This, in turn, allows for better airflow. Steroids are often used on an ongoing basis to prevent asthma attacks from happening. The good news is that if you know your triggers, many asthma attacks can actually be prevented.

By Marianne Hayes

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