Asthma improved by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Ann Intern Med. 1978 Apr;88(4):508-11. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-88-4-508.


A patient who claimed benefit from aspirin for her reversible bronchospasm was challenged orally in a placebo-controlled study with aspirin and other aspirin-like drugs. Specific airways conductance and spirometry were monitored for up to 150 minutes after oral challenge. Aspirin, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen administration resulted in marked (45% to 80%) improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) compared to lactose placebo. Indomethacin, sodium salicylate, and tartrazine resulted in modest (15% to 25%) FEV1 improvement, while phenylbutazone produced a 25% decrease. These results are discussed here in terms of the ability of these drugs to inhibit the prostaglandin synthetase enzyme system. This case suggests that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be beneficial rather than harmful in some asthmatic patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / therapeutic use
  • Indomethacin / therapeutic use
  • Mefenamic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenylbutazone / therapeutic use
  • Placebos
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sodium Salicylate / therapeutic use
  • Spirometry
  • Tartrazine / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Placebos
  • Mefenamic Acid
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Tartrazine
  • Aspirin
  • Sodium Salicylate
  • Ibuprofen
  • Indomethacin