Facebook triggers asthma attack in troubled teenager
THE popular social networking site Facebook is now being accused of triggering a patient’s asthma exacerbations.
Italian respiratory experts, writing in The Lancet, say an 18-year-old male with well-controlled asthma experienced repeated exacerbations after breaking up with his girlfriend, and having her subsequently ‘defriend’ him on Facebook.
The patient eventually succeeded in logging into Facebook using a new nickname and being reinstated as a ‘friend’ of his ex-girlfriend.
After he gained access to her Facebook profile, a repeated login to her profile – where she had ‘friended’ other young men – appeared to induce dyspnoea in the patient.
After his mother sought medical help, a test revealed his peak expiratory flow, measured before and after internet login, was reduced by over 20% after viewing his ex-girlfriend’s profile.
In collaboration with a psychiatrist, the patient resigned not to login to Facebook any longer and the asthma attacks ceased.
The authors suggested the temporal relation with onset of asthma symptoms indicated that Facebook login may trigger asthma exacerbations, in which hyperventilation may play a key role.
“This case indicates that Facebook, and other social networks in general, could be a new source of psychological stress, representing a triggering factor for exacerbations in depressed asthmatic individuals,” they said.
The Lancet 2010; 376:1740