Asthma

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.”

~ Sanskrit Proverb

When I wrote about nasal polyps, I didn’t anticipate that I would be tackling asthma any time soon. But recent medical exam revealed my young son not only has nasal polyps but also a mild asthma. I don’t have these conditions but many people, including my child now, do along with sinusitis and nasal allergies. So I sprang into action to learn more about asthma and how to effectively treat it. I believe what I share here would be informative and beneficial to you.

What is Asthma?

You have asthma when you have ongoing inflamed and narrow airways in the lungs resulting in breathing problems. During an asthma attack, you will experience breathlessness, tightness in the chest, incessant coughing, and anxiety or even panic. Very unpleasant, to say the least! There are more than 20 million Americans who have asthma, many being young children.

Causes of Asthma:

  • Allergens include pollens, molds, dust mites, and animal dander.
  • Sinusitis and rhinitis can induce asthma symptoms or make them worse.
  • Colds and flu can aggravate airway inflammation and trigger asthma.
  • Sensitivity to drugs, such as aspirin, can be the trigger.
  • Exposure to occupation hazards like chemicals, fumes, smoke, plants, food products, extreme cold or heat, dry or humid air.
  • Exercise that is physically strenuous or involves long distance jogging in cold air.
  • Stress and strong emotions like fear and anxiety can increase the likelihood of asthma or aggravate the condition.
  • Recent study showed a “harmless” childhood virus hiding in the lungs can trigger wheezing and other asthma symptoms.
  • Airborne irritants like tobacco smoke, household products, indoor and outdoor pollution.
  • Immune dysfunction could be a major cause.
  • You may inherit asthma from your parents.

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma:

  • Shortness of breath feels as though you can’t get air out of your lungs. It is the main, common symptom regardless of triggers.
  • Wheezing (whistling sound when breathing) due to constricted airways.
  • Coughing is persistent and constant. Usually worse at night or early morning.
  • Excess mucus gets coughed up.
  • Tightening in the chest as if somebody is sitting on your chest.
  • May experience severe and persistent exhaustion.
  • Feeling of fear and panic as asthma attacks are generally unpredictable and sudden.

Conventional Treatments:

The following anti-inflammatory drugs are for quick-relief and/or long-term control:

  • Oral Corticosteroids (prednisone, methylprednisolone) are used both for quick-relief and long-term control.
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids (Flovent, Beclovent, Azmacort, etc.) are all used for long-term control.
  • Leukotriene Modifiers (Singulair, Zyflo) prevent asthma signs such as constricted bronchial tubes and excessive mucus secretion. Used for long-term control.
  • Bronchodilators relax airways’ smooth muscles by dilating the airways. Often taken using inhaler or nebulizer (breathing machine). Examples are: Proventil, Maxair, Serevent, and Theophylline (long-term control).
  • Advair combines inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilator; this is proven by study to be more effective than two separate doses.

Holistic/Alternative Treatments:

  • Osteopathy aligns and loosens bones, joints, and muscles of the rib cage, shoulder, neck, and spine. It provides greater physical flexibility and better breathing patterns.
  • Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais methods teach proper breathing techniques for asthmatics. Also, they can correct some of the unhealthy changes in posture resulting from asthma.
  • Beside breathing exercises, certain yoga postures can assist in restoring the body to proper alignment.
  • Learn Buteyko Breathing Technique. Studies have shown significant improvement of symptoms in practicing patients.*(see below)
  • Acupunture has been shown by medical studies to help the airway’s muscles to relax during an asthma attack.
  • Shiatsu can generate similar response as the acupuncture. Reduction in fatigue and tension is very helpful in general for asthmatics.
  • Martial arts such as taekwondo, aikido, and kungfu can help with symptoms by learning slow, steady breathing with physical motion, resulting in more flexibility.
  • Try the following modalities that are effective and beneficial in promoting relaxation and calmness: progressive relaxation, guided imagery, sound therapy, meditation, massage, reflexology, hypnotherapy, and tai chi. Learn about them here and here.

Natural Home Remedies:

  • Inhale hot steam from boiling water; you can add eucalyptus or lavender essential oils.
  • Take herbal remedy,  Asthma Clear for natural, effective relief of symptoms.
  • Practice pranayama yoga breathing to strengthen and relax the muscles of your airways. Watch this video demonstration of asthma breathing.
  • Try the following homeopathic remedies: Arsenicum, Carbo vegetabilis, and Ipecacuanha.
  • Drink warm fluids to relax your bronchial tubes. Caffeine in coffee is a natural bronchodilator.
  • To remove phlegm from the throat, add one teaspoon of honey in hot water and sip slowly. Do this 3 times a day.
  • Although certain exercise conditions may trigger asthmatic symptoms, regular exercise is important. Walking is ideal but pace yourself by warming up and starting out slow. Use a scarf to mask over your mouth and nose to warm the air . Indoor swimming, with its warm and humid air, can relax the airways in your lungs.
  • Use an emergency stress relief formula like Calming Essence or Rescue Remedy. Place 4 drops under the tongue or add 4 drops to 1/4 of glass of water and sip slowly. This should ease breathing.
  • Rub brown mustard oil on the chest. This will aid breathing and loosen mucus.
  • Use a salt inhaler for relief. Did you know that salt inhalation was recommended by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine? This method is easy to use and drug-free with no side effects. It could reduce or gradually eliminate the usage of medications like Advair.
  • Drink a juice mixture of 2/3 of carrot juice and 1/3 of spinach juice 3 times a day.
  • Drink a hot cup of water mixing 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of trikatu (ginger and peppers).
  • Blend 2 ounces of onion (contains properties to relax bronchial muscles and prevent spasm) juice with 2 ounces of carrot juice and 2 ounces of parsley juice. Drink 2 times a day.
  • 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 3times a day; 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day; 400 mg. of Magnesium Aspartate twice a day; 500 mg. of N-acetylcysteine twice a day; and 333 mg. of quercetin twice a day. (Source: David Edelberg, M.D. the medical director of American Holistic Center)
  • Work the reflexes on your hands that correspond to these areas: lung, solar plexus, brain, pancreas and adrenal, pituitary and thyroid gland, and uterus/prostate.
  • Learning to sing or play a wind instrument, like the flute, may be beneficial to asthmatics.
  • Visualize or imagine standing on top of a mountain and breathing in pure, fresh air, filling your entire body with it. As you exhale, see gray/black smoke leave your body and get absorbed by the earth. Continue to do this until your breathing becomes easier and more relaxed.

Prevention:


  • Avoid tobacco smoke by either quitting or staying away from others who smoke.
  • Find out and eliminate foods that may set off or aggravate asthma.
  • Treat colds and flu promptly.
  • Reduce using wood burning in fireplaces or wood stoves. Make sure the area is well ventilated.
  • If the trigger is stomach reflux, take an antacid before going to bed.
  • Stay indoors when it’s very cold outside. If you must be outside, wear a scarf to cover your mouth and nose so the air is warm and humid when it reaches your lungs.
  • Moving to another state like Arizona is not necessary though may be helpful. Due to changes in climate and developments, the once ideal locations often don’t exist anymore.
  • Find out what foods trigger your asthma and eliminate them from your diet. Also avoid food additives like sulfites and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
  • Use non-aspirin pain relievers.
  • Have an inhaler available at any time.
  • Use air purifiers in rooms and protect the bedding with allergy-proof covers.
  • Learn ways to reduce stress, be it meditation, reading, creative projects, exercise, counseling, support groups…the possibilities are endless.

Buteyko Breathing Technique

was developed by Russian medical doctor, Konstantino Buteyko. Over 40 years of research has led him to conclude that asthma patients over-breathed and that this was the main trigger of asthma. Based on his findings, Dr. Buteyko developed the “under-breathing” technique, which is slow and deliberately limits the intake of air, which helped reduce asthma symptoms for some people. Keep in mind that this method is quite controversial and there are asthma experts who refute its theories. To learn more, visit www.buteykoclinic.com

Asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, and nasal polyps are interrelated. One or more conditions affect or trigger others. Hence, it would good to review overall information on this site for a broader understanding of the issues at hand. Learn more about holistic treatments and natural home remedies on this site to assist in your effort to treat your unique condition.


 

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