BACKGROUND--While high doses of caffeine may affect pulmonary function and bronchial challenge tests in patients with mild asthma, the effects of lower doses (< or = 5 mg/kg) are less well documented. Specific recommendations exist for withholding theophylline, but not caffeine, before bronchoprovocation and pulmonary function testing. METHODS--To assess the effect of a single oral dose of caffeine (5 mg/kg) on FEV1 and bronchial responsiveness to histamine a double blind, placebo controlled study was performed in eight patients with mild stable asthma. RESULTS--While caffeine had no effect on FEV1, mean (95% confidence interval) log PC20 histamine was significantly higher 150 minutes [caffeine = 0.99 (0.2) mg/ml, placebo = 0.53 (0.29)] and 240 minutes [caffeine = 0.89 (0.24), placebo = 0.44 (0.26)] after administration of caffeine than after placebo. CONCLUSIONS--Caffeine should be excluded from the diet for a period of more than four hours before bronchial provocation testing. The exact length of time for which it must be excluded requires further study.
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