Marijuana Use and the Development of Status Asthmaticus: A Case Report


Introduction: Status asthmaticus is an acute exacerbation of asthma caused by increased airflow resistance and mucus plugging. Symptoms of dyspnea may lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. There is limited knowledge about the effects of marijuana on pulmonary function. We report a unique case of status asthmaticus related to frequent marijuana use. Case Presentation: A 38-year-old African American male with a past medical history of asthma and two prior episodes of status asthmaticus arrived at Saint Barnabas Medical Center with dyspnea and wheezing that was refractory to home albuterol nebulizer therapy. Despite medical treatment his symptoms did not improve and he collapsed to the floor and required intubation and mechanical ventilation. He reported having smoked marijuana numerous times on the day prior to this admission. He was discharged three days later and was strongly advised to stop smoking marijuana. Conclusion: Marijuana is a commonly smoked illicit drug. Although habitual marijuana smokers have symptoms of cough, phlegm and wheezing, we found no reports linking marijuana use to the development of status asthmaticus. Given the rampant abuse of marijuana and its likely burden on healthcare, physicians should be vigilant in discussing the harmful effects of marijuana with asthmatic patients who abuse this drug.

Share and Cite:

L. Alexis, S. Bhangle and K. Fless, "Marijuana Use and the Development of Status Asthmaticus: A Case Report," Open Journal of Anesthesiology, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2012, pp. 62-64. doi: 10.4236/ojanes.2012.23015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Applied Statistics, “2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” 2006.
[2] D. Hoffmann, K. D. Brunnemann, G. B. Gori and E. L. Wynder, “On the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana Smoke,” In: V. C. Runeckles, Ed., Recent Advances in Phytochemistry, Plenum Press, New York, 1975.
[3] C. M. Sparacino, P. A. Hyldburg and T. J. Hughes, “Chemical and Biological Analysis of Marijuana Smoke Condensate,” In: C. N. Chiang and R. L. Hawks, Eds., Research Findings on Smoking of Abused Substances, (NIDA Research Monograph No. 99), US Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1990, pp. 121-140.
[4] T. C. Wu, D. P. Tashkin, B. Djahed and J. E. Rose, “Pulmonary Hazards of Smoking Marijuana as Compared to Tobacco,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 318, No. 6, 1988, pp. 347-351. doi:10.1056/NEJM198802113180603
[5] E. Hazouard, J. C. Koninck, S. Attucci, et al., “Pneumorachis and Pneumomediastinum Caused by Repeated Muller’s Maneuvers: Complications of Marijuana Smoking,” Annals of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 38, No. 6, 2001, pp. 694-697. doi:10.1067/mem.2001.118016
[6] R. B. Birrer and J. Calderon, “Pneumothorax, Pneumomediastinum and Pneumopericardium Following Valsalva’s Maneuver during Marijuana Smoking,” New York State Journal of Medicine, Vol. 84, No. 12, 1984, pp. 619-620.
[7] A. J. Wolff and A. E. O’Donnell, “Pulmonary Effects of Illicit Drug Use,” Clinics in Chest Medicine, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2004, pp. 203-216. doi:10.1016/S0272-5231(03)00137-0
[8] M. P. Sherman, E. E. Aeberhard and V. Z. Wong, et al., “Effects of Smoking Marijuana, Tobacco or Cocaine Alone or in Combination on DNA Damage in Human Alveolar Macrophages,” Life Sciences, Vol. 56, No. 23-24, 1995, pp. 2201-2207. doi:10.1016/0024-3205(95)00208-N
[9] T. A. Sarafian, J. A. Magallanes, H. Shau, et al., “Oxidative Stress Produced by Marijuana Smoke. An Adverse Effect Enhanced by Cannabinoids,” American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, Vol. 20, No. 6, 1999, pp. 1286-1293.
[10] M. K. Johnson, R. P. Smith, D. Morrison, et al., “Large Lung Bullae in Marijuana Smokers,” Thorax, Vol. 55, No. 4, 2000, pp. 340-342. doi:10.1136/thorax.55.4.340
[11] J. M. Tetrault, K. Crothers, B. A. Moore, et al., “Effects of Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function and Respiratory Complications, A Systematic Review,” Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 167, No. 3, 2007, pp. 221-228. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.3.221
[12] D. P. Tashkin, B. J. Shapiro, E. Lee and C. E. Harper, “Effects of Smoked Marijuana in Experimentally Induced Asthma,” American Review of Respiratory Disease, Vol. 112, No. 3, 1975, pp. 378-385.
[13] R. D. Steadward and M. Singh, “The Effects of Smoking Marijuana on Physical Performance,” Medicine and Sport Science, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1975, pp. 309-311.
[14] D. P. Tashkin, B. J. Shapiro, Y. E. Lee and C. E. Harper, “Subacute Effects of Heavy Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function in Healthy Men,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 294, No. 3, 1976, pp. 125-129. doi:10.1056/NEJM197601152940302
[15] K. Fagerstrom, “The Epidemiology of Smoking: Health Consequences and Benefits of Cessation,” Drugs, Vol. 62, No. S2, 2002, pp. 1-9.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.