Asthma is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by the constriction or congestion of bronchial tubes that consequently create persistent difficulties in breathing. While the exact cause of the disease remains undetected, it is believed to have been triggered by allergens, pollutants, respiratory infections, non-conducive weather conditions, sulphites in food and/or certain medications.
Image source: CDC
While a family history of allergies and asthma alongside other risk factors such as
- a family history of allergies (both food and environmental)
- intermittent respiratory infections
- low birth weight
- exposure to irritants like smoke, chemical fumes or strong odors
- a family history of asthma
- exposure to allergens like ragweed, tobacco, pollen, pet dander and dust mites
- chronic skin conditions like eczema
can act as cogent risk factors for development of asthma, a consistently declining rate of breastfeeding that inhibits the development of strong immune power is also a leading cause of the chronic illness, particularly in children. The alarming incidence of asthma attacks in over 34 million adults in the United States alone, with more than 7 million kids affected, leads some medical experts to believe that lower exposure to childhood illnesses that fails to bolster the immunity system to produce enough protective antibodies, could play a pivotal role in inducing asthma symptoms.
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The symptoms include:
- frequent, intermittent coughing spells, especially during night or times of physical exertion
- reduced energy levels during play with frequent necessitated breaks for rest to catch one’s breath
- shortness of breath
- loss of breath
- a wheezing sound produced while exhaling
- rapid breathing
- frequent colds that lead to further chest congestion and tightening
- retractions, resultant of labored breathing
- an all pervasive feeling of exhaustion, accompanied by complaints of frequent headaches, a loss of appetite and consequent weakness
It is important to note that an asthmatic patient may exhibit any or several of these symptoms in conjunction. But before writing them off as bronchitis, common cold or any such variant, you may want to watch for recurrence of breathing difficulties that interfere with the patient’s daily routine and deprove their quality of life. Even a mild symptom can quickly escalate into a life-threatening condition. An alarming figure of 34 million asthma patients in the States alone, many of whom may not even be aware of their condition, is reason enough to sit up and take note. Pay a visit to the doctor. He/she will assist you with a written asthma-action plan and prescriptive advice for both quick relief during asthma flare-ups and long-term treatment.
Not all wheezing and coughing instances may be an indication of an asthma attack but being on the watch for symptoms that can spiral into a life-threatening bout of the disease is a sound practice to adopt. We recommend that you visit a doctor to identify the risk as well as mitigate the chances of the situation aggravating into a fatality- but at the same time, it may help to ward off a bevy of side-effects and worsening symptoms associated with long-term use of asthma medications with the help of home remedies for asthma that can help to keep the attack at bay.
Research shows that asthma medications are responsible for a host of side-effects that can gravely affect the endocrine and immune systems. These medications may also cause erratic mood swings, acne and weight gain while hindering the immune function that can make both mild bouts that linger on for a few days and sudden, severe breathing emergencies that bring on ER visits and prolonged hospital stays more frequent. To prevent asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions brought on by prescription drugs as well as battle the medicinal costs (that shoot as high as $14.7 billion in US alone) and lost productivity (12.8 million missed school days and over 10 million missed work days in US), people turn to home remedies for asthma that knock off prescription drugs, limit the use of inhalers and involve a more holistic approach to maintaining a stable weight, supplementing Vitamin D, bolstering the immune system for optimal functioning and reducing allergies and irritant exposure.
While home remedies for asthma aren’t a definitive cure (medical science, too, has been wanting in that realm), they certainly help to fight the symptoms and lower the frequency of attacks. Here are a few that have been found to be most effective:
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Ginger is known for its anti-constrictive properties, thereby facilitating in the reduction of airway constriction and congestion and allowing for smoother air flow through the bronchial tubes. It has also been proven to enhance the muscle relaxant property of certain asthma drugs. You could either mix equal quantities of ginger juice, pomegranate juice and honey to orally ingest 1tbsp of the mixture 2-3 times a day or mix 1tbsp of ground ginger in one and a half cups of water and take 1tbsp at bedtime. For a detox routine, you could opt for preparing a fenugreek concoction by boiling 1tbsp of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water and mixing 1tbsp of ginger juice and honey each- to consume the mixture every morning and evening. If all the above methods seem too time-consuming, you could simply consume raw ginger mixed with salt.
2. Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is known to clear the respiratory passages and restore normal breathing. Heating mustard oil with a little camphor and allowing the mixture to cool down for a bit before using it to rub gently on one’s chest, upper back and arms can help to lower inflammation, accumulation of mucus or phlegm and consequently, facilitate easy, unobstructed breathing.
The nutritional content of figs can help promote respiratory health and drain mucus, phlegm and other airway obstructions to alleviate breathing trouble. Soaking figs overnight to eat them in the morning and drink the fig water on an empty stomach makes for an effective practice to battle asthmatic symptoms.
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One of the most effective home remedies for asthma, garlic is an enabler in the early stages of the disease- and helps to clear out the congestion in the airways. Boiling two or three cloves in a quarter cup of milk and allowing the mixture to turn comfortably warm before drinking is a good practice to fight congestion.
Caffeine self-medication in asthma patients is rampant because coffee is observed to relax the airway muscles thereby, reducing wheezing, shortness of breath and other respiratory problems, commonly seen in asthma. Clinical trials have noted a minor improvement in airway functionality, for up to four hours, thereby offering temporary relief to asthmatics. However, the improvement is slight, and certainly not close to being a commensurate substitute for medication. The chemical structure of caffeine is analogous to that of theophylline, a common asthma medication that induces the same relieving effects as does caffeine for asthmatics. Only, the results are more permanent and do not have any side-effects.
Coffee can offer instant relief to asthmatics but isn’t a viable substitute for medication nor should its usage be extrapolated so as to interfere with the medical course.
6. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is known for its decongestant properties and its essential ingredient eucalyptol helps to break down mucus, thereby helping to fight asthma symptoms. Using eucalyptus oil for a light head massage, soaking a paper towel with a few drops and placing it on your forehead or simply, boiling a few drops in a pot to breathe in the steam can go a long way in alleviating the condition.
7. Diet Treatment
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A healthy diet can play a crucial role in asthmatic patients to ward off environmental toxins, control inflammatory responses and reduce dietary triggers. For instance, brightly colored carotenoid foods like tomatoes, carrots and leafy greens can furnish asthmatic patients with a rich dose of Vitamin A and carotenoids that can maintain healthy mucous membranes lining the air passage. High folate foods with Vitamin B9 content can lower the incidence of inflammation, infections and allergic reactions as well as regulate the inflammatory process, thereby warding off symptoms like wheezing. Citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens rich in Vitamin C alongside nuts, seeds and plant oil loaded in Vitamin E can act as powerful enablers in the treatment of asthma. They have antioxidant properties that can fight the symptoms as well as help in detoxifying the body. Probiotics and high fiber foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds and raw veggies are loaded in fiber and help to eliminate toxins, bolster immunity and feed healthy probiotic bacteria.
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If you need any more convincing, take a look at what Dr. John Mills, Chief Of Infectious Diseases At San Francisco General says about it all,
Conventional drugs used for treating asthma, particularly steroids, can impair immune function and lead to more serious health problems. Doctors tell you that steroids (cortisone, prednisone) only cause side effects after many years. But new research shows that permanent damage is immediate and devastating. Studies show that steroids cause permanent, debilitating effects after a single dosage. Steroids are probably the most sleazy of modern day medications.”
So, go ahead and lower the intake of environmental and food toxins, consume nutrient-rich food, address the role of other body systems in respiratory functioning and prevent the symptoms from wreaking havoc. All with a little caution and home remedies for asthma!
Featured image source: CDC