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Effects of Carbonated Drinks on Lungs

by
author image Catherine Conrad, R.D., L.D.N.
Catherine Conrad is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness nutrition. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and completed her dietetic residency at Iowa State University. Conrad has written several community nutrition programs. She is also a competitive runner and rower.
Effects of Carbonated Drinks on Lungs
The carbonation of soda may compromise lung function for those with lung disease. Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Carbonated beverages may have ill effects on those with lung disease, reports the American Lung Association. People with a lung disease medically known as "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" have difficulty breathing; drinking carbonated beverages may make these symptoms worse. Because breathing requires more energy for people with lung disease, eliminating carbonated beverages may make breathing easier.

Carbonated Drinks in the United States

The amount of carbonated beverages that is consumed in the United States is overwhelming, but the number of lung disease sufferers is just as alarming. With more than 9.9 million Americans diagnosed with lung disease in 2009, carbonated beverages are taking the place of healthier choices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-half of the U.S. population drinks a carbonated beverage per day. Males drink more carbonated beverages than women do; the poor drink more carbonated beverages than the affluent. Furthermore, 24.3 percent of teens claim to drink soda daily. In the mid-1900s, milk was consumed four times more than soda; now, it is just the opposite.

Ingredients in Carbonated Beverages

The effects of carbonated drinks on the lungs stem from the chemical makeup of carbonated drinks. There is a slight tingling sensation experienced in the throat and esophagus area while drinking a carbonated beverage, which may cause breathing problems. The ingredients in carbonated beverages cause this tingling sensation, which can cause discomfort, coughing and a burning feeling. The tiny bubbles in soda are formed from the carbon dioxide present in carbonated beverages. Carbon dioxide is an incombustible gas that is odorless and colorless; it is breathed out by the lungs when you exhale. It is considered a waste product of the body. This waste product that the lungs expel from the body during normal breathing is placed back into the body when carbonated drinks are consumed.

Carbonated Beverages and the Lungs

Carbonated beverages can be detrimental for those with lung disease, but it causes minor issues with healthy individuals. According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the most common lung disease in the United States. COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis; it involves airflow blockage and other breathing-related problems. With this disease, it takes about 10 times more effort to breathe normally. It is preventable through diet and lifestyle alterations, including the elimination of carbonated beverages. According to the American Lung Association, a COPD diet should avoid carbonated beverages because of the extra gas they bring into the lungs. This extra gas makes it that much more difficult to breathe for someone with COPD. The CDC states that there is no link to ill effects from carbonated beverages and healthy individuals as far as lung function, but carbonated beverages can cause other health-related problems.

The Future of Carbonated Beverages

While the effects of carbonated beverages can be harmful for those with lung disease, they may be causing problems for others, as well. The effects of carbonated beverages on the lungs can lead to further respiratory problems, such as aspiration, acid reflux and heartburn.

Carbonated beverages have also been linked to containing excessive amounts of sugar, which may cause tooth decay, diabetes and obesity, according to the American Dietetic Association. Furthermore, teens who drink soda are more likely to have bone fractures, according to the University of Arizona Bone Builders project. The causes of bone fractures are linked to the phosphates in soda, which can leach minerals from the bone. The increase in soda intake and the lack of calcium-rich milk intake may also cause osteoporosis later in life.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a taxing system on sugar-filled drinks, explained in the "Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages" document. It claims that taxing these drinks will help eliminate or minimize consumption. With a tax in place, the USDA's goal is to minimize the symptoms of lung disease and put an end to the other harmful diseases related to excessive carbonated drink intake.

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