How to Solve Asthma Problem Naturally
Fortunately, asthma isn't always that bad. Some days you just wheeze — your airways whistle and rattle as you breathe ever so cautiously. You cough — not a healthy, productive cough but a dry, nagging cough. Exercise seems to be entirely out of the question.
If you could peer inside your chest, you'd discover what's behind the struggle for air. The muscular fibers around the bronchial tubes or airways tighten up or twitch at the least provocation — cold air, air pollution, over-exertion, perhaps. Or they act up after an encounter with something to which you're allergic — pollen, dust, mold spores, pet dander, food or a drug. At the same time, the linings of the lungs react by becoming swollen and inflamed. And the lungs produce a sticky mucus that no amount of coughing will force out. All that swelling and tightening blocks the free flow of air.
That's asthma. And if you have it, you share your frustrations with about 5 percent of the British population. In fact, asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Some asthmatics grow out of the disease, just as some teenagers grow out of acne. For others, the years of wheezing and fatigue go on and on. Either way, it's a long wait.
So what can you do to get the gorilla off your chest?
No doubt, you've already learned a few basic defensive tactics — farming out the dog, purging the house of dust and mold, and shunning whatever foods give you trouble. And for some people, such avoidance tactics alone will take care of the brunt of the problem.
'In children, particularly, I find that taking care of the environment — dust control, mold control, pet control — may be more than 50 per cent of the secret of allergy relief,' says Constantine Falliers, an allergist in Denver and editor of the Journal of Asthma. 'And I've seen many people who have just stayed away from food dyes and preservatives, and all their symptoms suddenly disappeared. '
One of the dyes Dr. Falliers is referring to is tartrazine — or E102 to give it the name you will find on food labels — a common problem for asthmatics, who may also be sensitive to aspirin, a notorious asthma trigger.
Other asthma triggers, however, are ever-present but less obvious. The biggest offenders are pollen, pollution, and unexpected pets in other people's homes — to say nothing of tobacco smoke, an asthma trigger in the sense that it irritates already sensitive airways. So you need to take the offensive — by stopping asthma before it starts and knowing how to thwart an attack at the earliest warning signal.
Self-helpAir filters are a basic defense against asthma. Doctors we spoke to told us that the best models are the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which have been known to relieve asthma symptoms within 10 to 30 minutes. And a study at a summer camp for asthmatic children in West Virginia found that the use of HEPA filters in the bunkhouses significantly reduced the number and severity of asthma episodes (West Virginia Medical Journal).
At home, air filters are just as effective. 'I nearly always prescribe air filtration,' says Robert W. Boxer, an allergist in Chicago. 'I feel that it's helpful. I've seen patients for whom adding an air filter to their asthma therapy has helped their asthma immensely. '
Still, you can't always live in a well-filtered bubble. Some airborne asthma triggers are bound to slip through, to gum up your lungs with mucus and strangle your airways.
To unstick your breathing equipment, drink plenty of fluids. Water and other beverages act as natural expectorants, keeping mucus thin and laughable says Dr. Doris Rapp, author of Allergies and Your Family (1981). She recommends drinking 4 — 8 Fl. oz of liquid every waking hour, if at all possible. Just be sure you don't drink cold beverages — the chill can shock sensitive airways into spasms. And be careful to avoid drinks that contain coal or food dyes, common asthma triggers.
Taking your beverages hot helps even more. A warm drink acts as a natural bronchodilator, or airway relaxer, as it glides past respiratory passages. Drinking soup or herb tea when you feel an attack coming on will do fine. 'Sometimes a warm liquid relaxes the bronchial tubes, and you may not even need to use your bronchodilator spray,' says Dr. Falliers. 'We've had kids in the hospital for treatment, and when they can't breathe, we try to get them to drink something warm, maybe just water or something with a little more flavor, like hot apple juice. They relax, control the panic and start breathing quietly again. '
Controlling panic is a big part of controlling asthma. If you know you're an asthmatic and begin to sense an attack coming on, you may tend to panic and fight for air. That tightens your chest further. For children, the anxiety is heightened if they see Mum or Dad panic, too. So if your child has asthma, you can help by simply trying to appear calm and confident, no matter how frantic you may actually feel. The sight of a reassuring adult in itself may help the youngster. 'Some children relax the minute they see their doctor enter the room, even before they're given any medication,' says Dr. Rapp.
Relaxation, in fact, is such a useful shield against asthma that many doctors are teaching child and adult asthmatics alike variations of a relaxation technique described in 'How to relax away an asthma attack' (see box). Because it loosens tightened muscles surrounding airways relaxation is a form of protection that can be used whenever an asthmatic feels an attack coming on.
Deep breathing and exerciseIn a subconscious effort not to tax temperamental lungs, asthmatics tend to take short, shallow breaths, which some doctors call 'stingy breathing'. By filling and emptying only the top portion of the lungs, however, asthmatics don't pull in enough oxygen. During an attack, they get even less. 'The average asthmatic is breathing at only 60 or 70 percent of capacity,' Dr. Falliers told us. 'And during an asthma attack, that can drop to 20 per cent. '
In the throes of an attack, you may actually turn blue for lack of oxygen. 'But if you're having an attack, you don't think about breathing physiology and oxygen metabolism, ' says Dr. Falliers. 'You just think of how to get your next breath.' By learning to breathe deeply and efficiently, you can increase the amount of oxygen you take in, so an attack isn't nearly as disabling.
Exercise can also help. Interestingly, school teachers who have asthmatic children in their classes often become confused about exercise. One child has
How to relax away an asthma attackThe following relaxation technique, practiced for five minutes a day, can be turned on whenever the chest starts to feel tight or other asthma warning signals arise.
Remember that wet-noodle feeling, and turn it on whenever you feel nervous short of breath or have any other sign that an asthma attack may be coming on.
- Stand up and hold your arms out straight. Close your eyes and hold your breath. Lift your chin toward the ceiling and grit your teeth. Make all your muscles very tight. Keep your arm muscles tight, your fists tightly clenched, your legs stiff and your toes stiff. Hold for a few seconds.
- Now, let everything go limp, like a balloon that's being deflated. Completely relax all your muscles until you feel like a wet noodle. Open your eyes.
- Gently collapse to the floor. Close your eyes again. Keep your arms legs and even your face limp and loose.
- Imagine yourself floating down a lazy river on a soft draft. Concentrate on each of your muscles and how nice and floppy they all feel.
- Breathe softly and easily as if you were cozily asleep in your bed. Stay quiet and droopy, enjoying the lack of tension in your chest and body.
- Open your eyes.
a doctor who says, 'This child has asthma, so he can't take P E. ' Another child's doctor says, 'This child has asthma and should be encouraged to exercise. '
Deep breathing for asthma reliefBy learning to breathe correctly, asthmatics can ward off wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. The following exercise can be practiced lying down, standing or sitting, and should be done daily.
SOURCE: American Lung Association Newsletter, May 1981
- Think of your chest and stomach as a container for air. Breathe in through your nose, slowly filling the bottom of the container first. Continue until the stomach feels inflated, like a balloon. If you place your hand on the spot just above your navel, you can feel it rise and fall with each breath.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. The 'container' should feel completely empty and your stomach should feel flat before you inhale again.
- Repeat. Inhale and exhale 12 times.
'They're both right,' says Dr. Falliers. 'Until asthma has been treated a child should be excused from exercise. But as treatment progresses, the child should be encouraged to develop and improve his or her fitness. '
That's because improving overall fitness can help control asthma.
'If you're not fit — if you haven't exercised in six months — and then you start exercising, your heart will beat very fast,' explains Dr. Falliers. 'But if you're physically fit, your heart will beat more slowly. And a slower heartbeat means better absorption of oxygen from the lungs. Being fit is like having your carburetor properly adjusted: you run, and breathe, more smoothly. '
Of course, exercise can also help keep your weight down, which is also beneficial for asthmatics. 'If you have two inches of excess fat around your diaphragm, it's going to make it harder for you to breathe, ' says Dr. Falliers. 'For a person with asthma — or any kind of breathing problem — being overweight is like wearing a very tight garment. You don't have enough room for your muscles to expand the lungs. '
The type of exercise you choose will make quite a difference to how well you tolerate exercise. Activities that involve brief spurts of action separated by rests are much less apt to trigger asthma than sports that call for continuous exertion. An asthmatic who goes in for golf, for example, is not as likely to start wheezing and coughing as one who runs the mile. Swimming, too, is ideal for asthmatics, provided that rest is taken at proper intervals.
'So often, it's not the exercise that triggers asthma, but the fast breathing of cold air,' says Dr. Falliers. 'Cold air irritates sensitive airways. If you breathe through your nose instead of your mouth, the air will be warmed, and you may not react. '
A light, the cotton face mask may also help to protect against cold, dry air — or pollen and air pollution, for that matter. Scientists at the US National Asthma Center in Denver observed the effectiveness of face masks on ten boys and girls, all asthmatic. After exercising for six minutes, the youngsters experienced much less asthma than usual — or none at all. The researchers concluded that a 'simple face mask may be an inexpensive [non-drug] alternative for the alleviation of exercise-induced asthma' — especially in runners and skiers (Journal of the American Medical Association, 14 November 1980).
Similar research at Yale University also demonstrated the protection offered by face masks against exercise-induced asthma. In both air-conditioned and refrigerated rooms, asthmatics with face masks fared better than those without masks — probably due to the rewarming of air inside the mask, said the researchers, adding, 'We have shown that under [these] circumstances the use of a mask offers a simple, inexpensive and effective form of [protection],' (Annals of Allegro, January 1981).
Wearing a scarf pulled up over your mouth before going outdoors in winter achieves the same effect.
Vitamin C.During the 19th century, it was noticed that sailors with scurvy stopped wheezing when they ate citrus fruits, and modern research shows that vitamin C may help to widen air passages during exercise or exertion. In one study volunteers who customarily suffered asthma after exercise were given 500 mg of vitamin C before an exercise test. Their tolerance of exercise was doubled (Journal of the American Medical Association, 13 February 1981).
However, vitamin C seems to help asthmatics whether they tolerate exercise or not. In another study, asthmatics who took 1000 mg of vitamin C a day had less than 25 percent as many asthma attacks as those receiving an inactive dummy pill. When they stopped taking vitamin C, though, they once again suffered the same number of attacks as the untreated people (Tropical and Geographical Medicine, vol. 32, no. 2, 1980).
So breathe easier. By definition, asthma is a reversible condition, and relief depends largely on factors that you can control.
'Proper education of the public and the right health attitude — not waiting until the damage is done, but preventing it — that will be the secret of success in controlling asthma,' says Dr. Falliers. 'And if that puts us allergists out of a job, that's just fine!'
How to Solve Asthma Problem Naturally Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 7/30/2016 Rating: