London: Are you a Facebook addict? Beware, it may get you an asthma attack, scientists claim.
A team of Italian doctors, who looked at a young man who had reportedly suffered several asthma attacks after logging into Facebook, said social networking websites could be a new source of psychological stress for depressed people.
According to their report, published in the medical journal The Lancet, the 18-year-old young man was depressed because his girlfriend had broken up with him.
She also deleted him from Facebook, while "friending" many new young men. With a new nickname on Facebook, the young man succeeded in becoming her friend once again and finally in seeing her picture on her Facebook profile.
But the sight of her girlfriend seemed to induce shortness of breath, which happened repeatedly on the patient accessing her profile.
The doctors, led by Dr Gennaro D`Amato of High Speciality Hospital A Cardarelli, Naples, Italy, said: "The (man`s) mother was advised to ask him to measure the peak expiratory flow before and after Internet login and, indeed, `post-Facebook` values were reduced, with a variability of more than 20 per cent.
"In collaboration with a psychiatrist, the patient resigned not to login to Facebook any longer and the asthma attacks stopped."
The doctors believe that hyperventilation due to seeing his girlfriend`s profile triggered these asthma attacks, and said that other possible environmental and infectious factors were excluded with a thorough history and physical examination.
"This case indicates that Facebook, and social networks in general, could be a new source of psychological stress, representing a triggering factor for exacerbations in depressed asthmatic individuals," they said.
"Considering the high prevalence of asthma, especially among young people, we suggest that this type of trigger be considered in the assessment of asthma exacerbations," they concluded.
Launched in 2004, Facebook has become the most popular social networking website over the years. It has more than 500 million active users as of July, 2010.