Dear friends, Asthma is a general disease of lungs, millions of people are asthmatic in the world. Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.
Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it’s important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust your treatment as needed.
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. But the most common symptom of asthma is wheezing, a squealing or whistling sound made when you breathe.
Other asthma symptoms may include:
- coughing, especially at night, when laughing, or during exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Anxiousness or panic
- Difficulty talking and sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
Types of Asthma
There are many different types of asthma. The most common type is bronchial asthma, which affects the bronchi in the lungs.
Additional forms of asthma include childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma. In adult-onset asthma, symptoms don’t appear until at least age 20.
Other specific types of asthma are described below.
- Allergic asthma
- Non-allergic asthma
- Occupational asthma
- Exercise-induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)
- Aspirin-induced asthma
- Nocturnal asthma
- Cough-variant asthma (CVA)
There’s no single test or exam that will determine if you or your child has asthma. Instead, your doctor will use a variety of criteria to determine if the symptoms are the result of asthma.
The following can help diagnose asthma:
- Health history. If you have family members with the breathing disorder, your risk is higher. Alert your doctor to this genetic connection.
- Physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your breathing with a stethoscope. You may also be given a skin test to look for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or eczema. Allergies increase your risk for asthma.
- Breathing tests. Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) measure airflow into and out of your lungs. For the most common test, spirometry, you blow into a device that measures the speed of the air.
To help diagnose and treat asthma, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) classifies the condition based on its severity before treatment.
Asthma classifications include:
|Classifications||Sign & Symptoms|
|Mild Intermittent||Most people have this type of asthma, which doesn’t interfere with daily activities. Symptoms are mild, lasting fewer than two days per week or two nights per month.|
|Mild persistent||The symptoms occur more than twice a week — but not daily — and up to four nights per month.|
|Moderate persistent||The symptoms occur daily and at least one night every week, but not nightly. They may limit some daily activities.|
|Severe persistent||The symptoms occur several times every day and most nights. Daily activities are extremely limited.|
No single cause has been identified for asthma. Instead, researchers believe that the breathing condition is caused by a variety of factors. These factors include:
- Genetics. If a parent or sibling has asthma, you’re more likely to develop it.
- History of viral infections. People with a history of severe viral infections during childhood (e.g. RSV) may be more likely to develop the condition.
- Hygiene hypothesis. This theory explains that when babies aren’t exposed to enough bacteria in their early months and years, their immune systems don’t become strong enough to fight off asthma and other allergic conditions.
Ayurvedic practitioners use multiple techniques to bring the body into a balanced, disease-free state. They include:
- Oral and topical use of herbs
- Breathing exercises & Yoga
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
Oral and topical use of herbs
For the treatment of bronchial asthma and allergic asthma, Ayurvedic practitioners have reported on the successful use of several herbal treatments. A number of herbs have been touted to give relief and prevent asthma they are:
- Ginger – it helps in decreasing inflammation and decreasing and managing asthma symptoms
- Turmeric – it helps prevent asthma attacks and keep allergies at bay
- Lemon grass – it contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and is rich in vitamin c that boosts immunity and fights inflammation
- Garlic – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help clear congestions in the chest
- Oregano – it contains flavonoids and anti-inflammatory properties that act as lung cleansing elements
- Licorice – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help in restoring normal breathing
These herbs may have antihistamine, bronchodilating, and anti-asthmatic properties.
Ayurvedic practitioners also focus on diet, exercise, and deep breathing techniques to help reduce asthma symptoms.
Breathing exercises & Yoga
These exercises can help you get more air into and out of your lungs. Over time, this may help increase lung capacity and cut down on severe asthma symptoms.
Your doctor or an occupational therapist can help you learn these breathing exercises for asthma.
Yoga for Asthma: 7 Effective Poses to Ease Breathing
Here are some yoga exercises that will help asthma patients get relief from their asthmatic problems:
- Sputa Vajrasana and Bhujangasana
- Dhanurasana and Bhastrika Pranayama
Dietary and lifestyle changes
- Pulses like rice, wheat, barley, beans should be consumed regularly.
- Avoid exposure to indoor and outdoor pollution, cigarette smoke, and allergens
- Add Honey to your drinks and teas
- nuts and dry fruits can be taken in moderate amount
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants
- The heavy foods like milk, cheese, curd, buttermilk and banana should be avoided.
- Oily, greasy and fried foods should be avoided.
- Try to avoid the cold and refrigerated foods and drinks.
- Avoid excessive or physical exercises
- Yoga and meditation can be helpful
- Cover your mouth and nose when stepping out in cold weather
- Avoid processed foods, additives, white sugar and artificial sweeteners
When your asthma symptoms get progressively worse, it’s known as an exacerbation, or an asthma attack.
It becomes increasingly difficult to breathe because your airways are swollen and your bronchial tubes have narrowed.
The symptoms of an exacerbation may include:
- shortness of breath
- increased heart rate
Although an exacerbation can end quickly without medication, you should contact your doctor because it can be life threatening.
The longer an exacerbation continues, the more it can affect your ability to breathe. That’s why exacerbations often require a trip to the emergency room.
Exacerbations can be prevented by taking medications that help manage your asthma symptoms.
Certain conditions and environments may also trigger symptoms of asthma. The list of possible causes and triggers is extensive. Triggers include:
- Illness. Respiratory illnesses such as viruses, pneumonia, and the flu can trigger asthma attacks.
- Exercise. Increased movement may make breathing more difficult.
- Irritants in the air. People with asthma may be sensitive to irritants, such as chemical fumes, strong odors, and smoke.
- Allergens. Animal dander, dust mites, and pollen are just a few examples of allergens that can trigger symptoms.
- Extreme weather conditions. Conditions such as very high humidity or low temperatures may trigger asthma.
- Emotions. Shouting, laughing, and crying may trigger an attack.
Because researchers have yet to identify the exact cause of asthma, it’s challenging to know how to prevent the inflammatory condition.
However, more information is known about preventing asthma attacks. These strategies include:
- Avoiding triggers. Steer clear of chemicals, smells, or products that have caused breathing problems in the past.
- Reducing exposure to allergens. If you’ve identified allergens, such as dust or mold, that trigger an asthma attack, avoid them as best you can.
- Getting allergy shots. Allergen immunotherapy is a type of treatment that may help alter your immune system. With routine shots, your body may become less sensitive to any triggers you encounter.
- Taking preventive medication. Your doctor may prescribe medication for you to take on a daily basis. This medication may be used in addition to the one you use in case of an emergency.
Your doctor can help you put an asthma action plan in place so that you know which treatments to use and when.
In addition to using maintenance medications, you can take steps each day to help make yourself healthier and reduce your risk for asthma attacks. By following these Do’s and Don’ts:
- Godhuma (wheat), Old rice, Mudga (green gram), Kulattha (Horse gram), Yava (barley), Patola (snake gourd)
- Use of Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, Black pepper
- Luke warm water, Goat milk, Honey
- Respiratory exercise, Pranayama, Yoga
- Heavy, cold diet, Masha (black gram), Deep fried items, Mustard leaves, Fish
- Exposure to Cold & Humid atmosphere
- Sweets, Chilled water, Stored food items, Curd
- Suppression of natural urges
- Excessive physical exertion
- Exposure to Smoke, Dust and fumes, Pollutants and Pollens
Nutrient-rich foods are vital to helping reduce symptoms, but food allergies can trigger asthma symptoms.
When to see a doctor
At the moment, there’s no cure for asthma. However, there are many effective treatments that can decrease asthma symptoms. Lifestyle changes and medications can also help improve your quality of life.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with asthma but are experiencing symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, you should let your doctor know.
Once you’re diagnosed with asthma, you should see your doctor at least once a year or more frequently if you have persistent symptoms after using treatments.
Call your doctor immediately if you:
- feel weak
- can’t perform daily activities
- have a wheeze or cough that won’t go away
It’s important to educate yourself about your condition and its symptoms. The more you know, the more proactive you can be in improving your lung function and how you feel.
Talk with your doctor about:
- your type of asthma
- what triggers your symptoms
- what daily treatments are best for you
your treatment plan for an asthma attack