Physicians seeing patients with unexplained attacks of asthma-related wheezing and labored breathing might consider "less obvious types of exposure" to allergens, suggest two California physicians - such as toothpaste.

The physicians, with Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Clara, reported in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine the case of a 21-year-old woman with asthma whose attacks of shortness of breath couldn't be traced to any particular stimulation.The attacks "resolved dramatically" when she switched from a paste-based toothpaste marketed for tartar control to a gel-based toothpaste.