23 years ago, at the age of 30, I was hospitalised for asthma at Frankston Hospital in Victoria; I recovered quickly with intravenous Theophylline and inhaled Ventolin via a pump. The specialist would not discharge me until I learned what he ironically called The Catechism:

Q: What do you do in the event of an asthma attack in a remote area if there is no puffer?

A: Give them coffee until they shake (lots): this will save them. Decaf coffee will not work.

As it happens, Theophylline is similar to caffeine; the side effects and benefits are similar. – Jonathon, Vic (A Cochrane Database Review, Caffeine for Asthma 2010, agrees: ‘Caffeine appears to improve airways function modestly, for up to four hours, in people with asthma’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091514).