Breathe Easy with Natural Remedies for Treating Asthma
More than 300 million people across the world suffer from asthma, a chronic lung disease the major contributing factors being the modern environmental pollutants and harmful microorganisms. This condition leads to swelling, inflammation and production of more mucus causing tightening and narrowing of the airways, which is termed as bronco constriction that has been one of the leading causes for mortality.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic breathing lung condition, caused due to constriction and inflammation of the bronchial tubes. A common disorder of both children and adults, it triggers recurring bouts of cough, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and breathlessness known as asthma attacks. Nevertheless, following simple natural remedies, these attacks may well be prevented.
Types of asthma
Extrinsic asthma is a type depending upon the response of the immune system to environmental pollutants such as inhalation of dust, mite, pet danders, and pollens.
Harmful chemicals such as food, preservatives, exercise, smoke, deodorants, perfumes, and cigarette smoke; cold atmosphere, chest infection, stress and laughter induce intrinsic asthma.
Nocturnal or night-time Asthma symptoms are those that get worse at night, triggered by allergic reactions to pet dander, dust or sinusitis. This may occur while lying down with the person experiencing shortness of breath or wheezing that wakes them up at night especially between 2.00 and 4.00 Am, which indicates a worsening of the inflammation in the airways
Occupational asthma as the name suggests is induced at the work place due to constant exposure to chemicals, vapours, fumes, irritants and dust. The exposure to such substances irritates the airways resulting in an allergic reaction. However, these symptoms disappear once the person quits the job.
Asthma triggered due to exercise is common among children and adults. During vigorous exercise occurrences of cough, wheezing and breathless indicates that the person is suffering from this kind of asthma. The difficulty is caused is due to excess mucus and inflammation of the bronchial tubes which make the passage of air very complex.
Cough variant asthma
The most difficult to diagnose is cough variant asthma, as other conditions such as hay fever, sinusitis, post nasal drip and chronic bronchitis ought to be ruled out. In this type of asthma, the only symptom signalling the symptoms is dry chronic, cough, persisting for prolonged periods caused due to an allergic reaction to the environmental pollutants. However, this causes a reaction in the lungs forcing a cough, which helps clear the airway.
Steroid resistance asthma
Constricted and inflamed airways unresponsive to steroids treatment refers to steroid resistance asthma, to reduce inflammation and obstructed airways. While most of them respond to accepted drawn in glucocorticoid steroid therapy some of them are indifferent and are unresponsive towards steroids. Nevertheless, a higher dose of steroid will help alleviate the symptoms, with a few side effects though.
Symptoms of asthma
The characteristic signs and symptoms of asthma are a wheezing sound during exhalation, coughing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest, severe cough during an attack of flu, sneezing, lack of sleep due to breathing difficulty, tiredness, headache, blocked nose, sensitivity in the throat and chin, mood swings and shortness of breath during times of stress and exercise.
The symptoms of asthma may be distinctive from each person ranging from minor to serious in nature. At times, these symptoms may become so serious that they may prove fatal.
Causes of asthma
There are certain factors responsible for developing this condition, although the specific cause is unknown. Studies indicate genetic and environmental factors for the onset of asthma especially during the early years, depending upon the developmental growth of the lungs, allergies infections, environmental exposure and immune health.
Asthma tends to be innate and seems to run in families. However, there aren’t any evidences to suggest a link between the genes and this chronic disease. Nevertheless, studies indicate a definite link between the immune system and lungs. Therefore people suffering from asthma have certain hereditary atopic diseases such as asthma, allergy induced rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.
Childhood Development and growth
A child during the early months or years is prone to asthma. This may be due to a developmental abnormality in the lungs. Premature babies born with lungs that are not fully developed have a tendency to be susceptible to respiratory infections and cold. In certain cases when exposed to smoke, the baby has a likelihood of harming and causing inflammation with a few changes in the functioning of the lungs.
There are certain environmental exposures that increase the risk of developing asthma. During pregnancy, the mother’s exposure to food allergens may induce asthma in an unborn child. Any exposure or second hand exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy may cause a risk of provoking asthma. Besides these infections during early months or years, exposure to animals, mites, dust, pollens and moulds in the environment have an impact on the development of this disorder.
Adults with a BMI of 30 plus, have twice the risk of developing asthma than those who are not obese. The risk is higher in non-allergic asthma as opposed to allergic asthma.
A diet high in salt, processed food, low intake of omega 3 fatty acids including low levels of antioxidants may play an important role in the development of asthma.
Lack of exercise
Lack of exercise combined with a sedentary lifestyle is another factor contributing towards the development of asthma. This increases the possibility of muscles in the airways to narrow considerably when exposed to pollutants.
High levels of psychological stress trigger asthma. This is because smoking, a stress-induced behaviour encourages the development of asthma. However according to recent findings the immune system is modified by stress as well.
Home Remedies for treating asthma
Following simple lifestyle changes and natural remedies, one can conquer asthma and breathe easy.
Heavily laden with anti-inflammatory substances, onions ease the constriction of the airways caused due to an asthma attack. Cooked onions prove more beneficial than raw onions, for combating asthma, as the latter tends to cause irritation.
Capsaicin, a substance with anti-inflammatory properties, gives the hot fiery flavour to peppers. Since peppers have the ability to stimulate the fluids in the lungs, mouth and throat, they help open up the airways. The enhanced fluid helps thin out the mucus formed during an attack and makes breathing much easier.
During the nineteenth century, caffeine was the chief anti asthmatic drugs as it contained broncho-dilating effects. Therefore, caffeine is beneficial for alleviating symptoms of asthma, although it would be wise not to administer coffee for children suffering from this disorder. Read different types of coffee
Omega3 fatty acids
Increasing intake of foods rich in omega3 acids such as mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines help the lungs react better to irritants and pollutants keeping asthma at bay. There was 50% reduction in asthma symptoms with fish oil supplements, which is equal to eight ounces of mackerel a day.
Fruits and Vegetables
Including plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, like green leafy vegetables, carrots, tomatoes and apples, augment effective functioning of the lungs and reduce asthma symptoms. According to studies, a low dietary consumption of fruits and vitamin C increased the symptoms.
Cur cumin, a substance found in turmeric with anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation of chronic conditions, by dilating the blood vessels and enabling normal breathing.
Many studies point out the fact that most asthmatics have vitamin deficiencies, which is another contributing factor towards the breathing disorder. Hence a diet rich in essential vitamins such as B3, B6, B12, B9, manganese, selenium, magnesium , vitamin C And E promote respiratory health thereby alleviating symptoms of asthma. (Also read Uses and Benefits of Turmeric and Turmeric Milk)
Mucus and fluid build up in the lungs prevent easy breathing. Therefore, in order to keep the body hydrated consuming 8 to 12 glasses of water everyday will weaken the mucus and ensure effective lung function. Read more about benefits of drinking more water.
Massaging and inhaling mustard oil applied topically on the chest provides immense relief to the air passages getting rid of chest congestion.
Ginger is a powerful component that combats inflammation and acts as an expectorant. Tea prepared by adding crushed garlic and ginger taken twice a day proves effective. [Also read: Health Benefits of Dry Ginger]
For ages honey, with its medicinal properties has been used for treating various ailments. Breathing or consuming honey weakens the mucus restricting the air passages thus providing respite. [Read more about Health Benefits of Honey and Ginger]
Spring-cleaning the house to minimise dust is one of the best remedies to avoid night-time asthma triggers. Therefore, replacing pillowcases mattress and curtains at frequent intervals and opting for wooden flooring instead of a carpet, which accumulates dust, would be beneficial.
Lower humidity levels by using an air conditioner to stay away from pollens and for reduction of mites.
Wash Bed sheets
Washing the bed sheets in hot water once a week, besides washing the mattress once in two weeks would help alleviate asthma attacks.
Having a pet at home like a bird, dog and cat may induce asthma in most people. The furry coat, feathers and the dry flaky skin that falls off called dander, a potent allergen that exists in the animals tongue can take a person breath away and leave them panting for air.
During cold weather, there is a possibility of asthma symptoms getting worse due to the gusty winds that waft pollen, pollution and smoke through the air, thereby tightening and narrowing the bronchial tubes.
Contrary to popular belief, recent research indicates that aerobic exercises alleviate asthma symptoms by strengthening the lungs and the heart. Nevertheless, if it has adverse effects it would be wise to change the form of exercise. The form of yoga, with breathing techniques proves effective to relieve asthma attacks and prevent them.
Obesity adds a lot of strain on the heart and makes breathing extremely difficult. Therefore obesity has the tendency to worsen asthma symptoms forcing the heart to work extra hard in order to enable proper blood supply to the organs. Nonetheless, the medications prescribed for asthmatics result in weight gain, hence it is wise to consult a physician regarding the factors concerning diet and exercise. Check What is your ideal weight for height
Avoid the following…
People prone to asthma attacks due to chemicals ought to stay away from perfumes, paints, chemical vapours, strong odours, food colours especially yellow food dye and food preservatives, to prevent such attacks.
Asthmatic patients display extreme sensitivity towards NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and aspirin despite no history of asthma triggers. Opting for safe alternatives would instead be a good choice.
Avoid tobacco smoke
Tobacco smoke increases asthma attacks as well as an allergic reaction as it affects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. It makes people prone to upper respiratory tract infection as the smoke disrupts immune health. Besides this smoke emitted via second hand smoking can prove detrimental for children and teenagers.
Avoid specific foods
Cold drinks and food have a tendency to cause distress to the bronchial tubes; hence, it would be wise to avoid them. In addition to this, particular foods such as excessive salt, high processed foods, dairy products, sugar, eggs, peanut and fizzy carbonated drinks elicit asthma attacks.
Emotional and physical aspects like joys, sorrows, anxiety and stress have a great impact on asthma triggers. Hence, a calm and relaxed mind with a positive outlook in life helps cope with this breathing disorder. However to combat stressful situations and emotions setting aside a few minute for physical activity may prove beneficial.
No more concerns about allergens and pollutants taking your breath away… with just a few simple tips and tricks one can breathe easy and remain healthy!