Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways to the lungs. It is a condition where inflammed airways becomes narrow and swell and produce extra mucus , which makes a person difficult to breathe. Asthma can be minor or it can interfere a lot with your daily activities.
Physiology of Asthma –
Normally with every breath you take ,air goes through your nose or mouth and down into your throat and into your airways, eventually that air reaches your lungs . There are lots of small air passages in your lungs that help to give oxygen from the air to the bloodstream. Asthma starts appearing when your airways become swollen and the muscles around them get to tight . Mucus then fills the airways ,due to which less amount of air finds its way to pass through the airways. These difficult conditions then brought the asthma attack where coughing and tightness of chest like typical symptoms become visible.
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. Still most common symptoms are –
1) Wheezing ,a whistling sound when you breathe.
2) Coughing , especially at night.
3) Tightness in the chest.
4) Shortness of breath.
5) Difficulty in talking.
6) Anxious behaviour all the time.
Most common type is Bronchial Asthma which affects the bronchi in the lungs. Additional two more forms are –
Adult onset Asthma – It appears at the age of 20.
Some specific types are also there which are as follows :-
1) Allergic ( Extrinsic) Asthma –
Allergens trigger this type of Asthma. It is often seasonal. These may include –
• Pet dander from animals like cats and dogs.
2) Non allergic ( Intrinsic ) Asthma –
This type of Asthma is not related to irritants present in the air . Irritants responsible for this type of Asthma are –
• Burning wood
• Cigarette smoke
• Viral illness
• Air fresheners
• Household cleaning products
• Cold air
3) Occupational Asthma –
It is a type of Asthma whose triggers are present at your workplace. These triggers may include –
• Gases and fumes
• Industrial chemicals
• Animal proteins
• Rubber latex
The workers working in industries like farming , textiles ,wood working , manufacturing become the victims of such type of Asthma.
4) Exercise -induced broncho constriction ( EIB) –
It affects people with in a few minutes of starting exercise and upto 10-15 minutes after physical activity.
5) Aspirin induced Asthma –
It is usually severe. It is triggered by taking aspirin or another NSAIDs ( Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
6) Nocturnal Asthma –
In this type , symptoms worsen at night. Triggers in this asthma may be –
• Pet dander
• Dust mites
• Body’s natural sleep cycle
7) Cough variant Asthma ( CVA ) –
It doesn’t have classic asthma symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath. It is characterized by a persistent ,dry cough. If it is not treated ,it can convert in full blown Asthma.
No single cause has been identified for Asthma but there are some factors contribute to the disease. These factors are –
• Genetics – People having family history of Asthma are more prone to become asthmatic.
• History of viral infections make lungs and it’s airways weak due to which danger of being asthmatic increases.
• Hygiene hypothesis – people living in non hygeinic conditions also believed to become asthmatic soon.
National Asthma Education & Prevention Progress ( NAEPP) classifies the condition based on its severity before treatment. This classification is as follows –
1) Intermittent –
It doesn’t interfere with daily activities. Symptoms are mild , lasting fewer than 2 day per week or 2 nights per month.
2) Mild Persistent –
The symptoms occur more than twice a week but not daily and upto 4 nights per month.
3) Moderate Persistent-
It occur daily , atleast one night every week. It may limit some daily activities.
4) Severe Persistent –
It occurs several times everyday and most nights. Daily activities are extremely limited in this .
Risk Factors –
The following factors are thought to increase chances of developing such disease –
• Having a blood relative with asthma such as parent or sibling.
• Having another allergic condition like atopic dermatitis or hay fever.
• Being overweight.
• Being a smoker.
• Exposure to second hand smoke.
• Exposure to different types of pollution.
• Exposure to occupational triggers.
1) Permanent narrowing of the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs which affects your breathing.
2) Side effects from long term use of some medications which are used to stabilize severe asthma.
3) Emergency room visits and hospitalization.
1) Follow your Asthma action plan.
2) Get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia.
3) Identify and avoid Asthma triggers.
4) Monitor your breathing.
5) Identify and treat attacks timely.
6) Pay attention to increasing quick relief inhaler use.
Treatment falls in three primary categories which are as follows –
1) Breathing Exercises –
These exercises e.g. Bhastrika ,Anulom vilom ,Surya namaskar etc. can help you get more air into and out of your lungs . This may help increase lung capacity .
2) Quick – acting Treatments –
This treatment give you quick relief to help you breathe again.
• Bronchodilators – They work within minutes to relax the tightened muscles around your airways. They can be taken as an inhaler or nebulizer.
• First aid treatment – If someone is having an asthma attack ,tell them to sit upright and assist them in using their rescue inhaler or nebulizer. 2-6 puffs of medication should help ease their situation of dysnoea.
3) Long term control medications –
These medications reduce your number and severity of symptoms , but they don’t manage immediate symptoms of an attack . Those medications include anti-inflammatories ,anti- cholinergics ,long acting Bronchodilators , biologic therapy drugs.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda Bronchial Asthma is called Tamak Swasa. According to Ayurveda ,the aggravation of Kapha dosha blocks the flow of air creating spasm in the bronchial area causing dysnoea.
Beneficial Herbs –
1) Ginger –
Helps in decreasing inflammation of airways. Ginger tea preparation is highly beneficial.
It helps to prevent Asthma attacks and keep allergies in control. Haldi dudh famously known now as Golden milk is also having good hold over the condition .
3) Lemon Grass –
It contains anti-inflammatory , antifungal , antibacterial properties and is rich in Vitamin C that boosts immunity and fights inflammation.
4) Garlic –
It helps in cleansing congestion in the chest.
5) Oregano –
It contains flavonoids that acts as lung cleansing elements.
6) Licorice –
It has anti-inflammatory properties that held in restoring normal breathing.
Diet plan and lifestyle changes –
1) Add honey to your drink and tea.
2) Nuts and dry fruits should be added in your diet .
3) Heavy foods like milk ,cheese ,curd ,banana should be avoided.
4) Oily and fried food should be avoided.
5) Avoid cold and refrigerated foods .
6) Yoga and meditation can be useful.
7) Cover your mouth and nose when stepping out in allergic and cold weather.
Some Ayurvedic Medications –
• Mulethi churna
• Swasakuthar Ras
• Swaskaschintamani Ras
• Abhrak Bhasm
• Laxmivilas Ras
• Sanjivani vati
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