Asthma

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Asthma (Az-muh) is a chronic disease that affects the airways. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. In case of asthma the inside walls of the airways are inflamed (swollen). The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When the airways react, they get narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissue. This causes symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning. [1]

Contents

Cause of Asthma

Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swell. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by, and can lead to wheezing sounds. [2]

Most people with asthma have wheezing attacks separated by symptom-free periods. Some patients have long-term shortness of breath with episodes of increased shortness of breath. Still, in others, a cough may be the main symptom. Asthma attacks can last minutes to days and can become dangerous if the airflow becomes severely restricted.

In sensitive individuals, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in allergy-causing substances (called allergens or triggers). Triggers include pet dander, dust mites, cockroach allergens, molds, or pollens. Asthma symptoms can also be triggered by respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, tobacco smoke and other pollutants, stress, food, or drug allergies. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) provoke asthma in some patients.

Approximately 20.5 million Americans currently have asthma. Many people with asthma have an individual or family history of allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or eczema. Others have no history of allergies.


Symptoms of Asthma

Primary Symptoms

Wheezing Usually begins suddenly Comes in episodes May be worse at night or in early morning Gets worse with cold aira, exercise, and heartburn (reflux) May go away on its own Is relieved by bronchodilators (drugs that open the airways) Cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise or activity Intercostal retractions (pulling of the skin between the ribs when breathing)

Emergency symptoms

Extreme difficulty breathing Bluish color to the lips and face Severe anxiety due to shortness of breath Rapid pulse Sweating Decreased level of alertness, such as severe drowsiness or confusion, during an asthma attack

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease

Nasal flaring Chest pain Tightness in the chest Abnormal breathing pattern --breathing out takes more than twice as long as breathing in Breathing temporarily stops


Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatment for Asthma

Ayurveda

Tamaka Swasa Roga is the Ayurvedic term for bronchial asthma. [3]

Homeopathy

Asthma and other respiratory disorders are one among those in which homeopathy has good scope. There have been positive reviews of homeopathic trials in respect to respiratory disorders. One such review of three randomized, controlled trials published regarding the use of homeopathy for asthma treatment in 154 patients concludes that two of the three trials were positive [4]. In another study, published by a health maintenance organization in Israel, the authors found that integrating homeopathic treatment with conventional treatment for allergic disorders decreased overall use of conventional medications by 56%, resulting in a cost savings of approximately 60% in 3 months. The most significant reduction was in antihistamine use (a 70% reduction), followed by decreases in bronchodialator use (55%) and steroids (50%) [5].

Though the homeopathic treatment is based on symptomatology, the diagnosis is to be made properly to manage the case. Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Initially patient may not respond for homeopathic treatment due to the obstacles to cure. Such obstacles are smoking (even long term exposure to second-hand smoke), excessive use of drugs, sedentary lifestyle, junk foods, etc. In such cases some homeopathic drugs which are often used for intoxication, like Andrographis paniculata Q, Azadirachta indica Q, Carduus marianus Q, Chelidonium Q, Hydrocotyle Q and Taxus buccata Q would be helpful. Along with medication, patient is advised appropriately to add more fruits, vegetables and nuts, to quite smoking and to do physical exercise by considering the patients’ ability and condition. In these cases the drugs which are keeping the patient survival are not to be stopped suddenly, but can be tapered as improvement takes place. When a patient is under the use of inhaler, it may be required only at acute episodes. [6]

Bronchial asthma is usually a tri-miasmatic condition. Initially patient may present the picture of psora, but in later stage all three miasms can be seen in the case. The fundamental and dominant miasms are to be elicited to select a right remedy, which would act deeply and at all dimensions. If there is stagnation in the improvement, it indicates that superficial layer of the disease is removed and patient needs follow up remedy to act further deep.

Commonly used remedies for acute episodes of asthma [in low potency] and their indications

Acalypha indica: Cough with bloody expectoration; sometimes violent dry cough precedes the expectoration. Ailantheus glandulosa: Deep dry and hacking cough, with asthmatic expansion of lungs; cough with headache and congestion of face. Aletris farinosa: Short, dry and tickling cough worse on waking and talking; discharge of urine during cough; cough suddenly relieved by menstruation. Aralia racemosa: Cough associated with constriction of chest, worse lying down, after the first sleep, has to sit up and cough violently; asthma, with oppression as from a weight on stomach, worse night on lying down, better by raising a little tough mucus. Asarium europaeum: Frequent cough followed by difficult breathing; cough caused by deep inspiration. Blatta orientalis: Asthma associated with bronchitis, suitable for fatty people, cough associated with dyspnoea. Blumea odorata: Barking like cough controls hoarseness due to cough. Boerhavia diffusa: Indicated for dry cough as well as cough with whitish thick expectoration. Ephedra vulgaris: Mother tincture is used to control asthmatic attack; in reduced doses it is also helpful in pulmonary heart disease. Glycyrrhiza glabra: Used as expectorant; prevents recurrent respiratory infections. Grindelia: Tenacious mucous difficult to detach. Justicia adhatoda: Violent cough with tough expectoration and tightness of chest; great fear of suffocation; usually cough associated with vomiting. Pothos foetidus: Asthma worse from any inhalation of dust. Rumex crispus: Cough usually with headache; worse eating, in the evening and on lying down.


Naturopathy

Traditional Chinese Medicine

References

  1. What Is Asthma?
  2. Asthma Causes
  3. Bronchial Asthma (Tamaka Swasa Roga)
  4. Linde K, Jobst K., Homeopathy for chronic asthma, Cochrane Review, The Cochrane Library, 2002
  5. Frenkel M, Hermoni D., Effects of homeopathic intervention on medication consumption in atopic and allergic disorders, Altern. Ther. Health Med. 2002; 8:76-79
  6. Valavan. R., Homeopathy For All, Vol. 9 No. 2 (98) February 15 2007
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