What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, causing wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing at night or early morning. It starts mostly in childhood but affects all age groups. Asthma is a chronic—long-term—disease.
Airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People with asthma have inflamed airways. They are swollen, very sensitive, and tend to react strongly to some inhaled substances.
When airways react, surrounding muscles tighten, airways narrow, and less air flows into the lungs. Swelling can worsen, making airways even narrower. There may be more mucus than normal, causing further narrowing.
This chain reaction can cause asthma symptoms each time airways inflame.
Sometimes, symptoms are mild and go away on their own or after treatment with medicine. Other times, they may get worse. If you have more symptoms or they get worse, you’re having an asthma attack, or flareup.
It’s important to treat symptoms when they first appear to prevent them from getting worse and causing severe attacks. Severe attacks require emergency care and can be fatal.
Signs and Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of asthma include:
Not everyone with asthma has these symptoms. Nor does having them always mean asthma. To diagnose asthma for certain requires a lung function test, a medical history (including type and frequency of symptoms), and a physical exam.
Asthma symptoms vary in frequency and severity. Sometimes they may just annoy you. Other times they might limit your daily routine. Severe symptoms can be fatal, so it’s important to treat symptoms when you first notice them, so they don’t become severe. With proper treatment, most people can expect to have few symptoms, if any, day or night.
What Causes Asthma?
Asthma’s cause is unknown. Some genetic and environmental factors may interact to cause asthma, most often early in life, including:
Researchers continue to explore what causes asthma.
Who Is at Risk?
Asthma affects people of all ages, but most often starts during childhood.
Young children who frequently wheeze when they have respiratory infections and who have other risk factors—parents with asthma, eczema (an allergic skin condition), allergies—are at highest risk of asthma continuing beyond six years of age.
More boys have asthma than girls. In adults, more women than men have asthma. The role of gender and sex hormones is unclear. Most people who have asthma have allergies. Some people develop “occupational asthma” from contact with chemicals or dusts in the workplace.
Many things can set off or worsen symptoms. Triggers may include:
Asthma can be harder to manage due to rhinitis, sinus infections, reflux disease, psychological stress, and sleep apnea. These need to be included as part of an overall asthma care plan.
Asthma is different for each person. Some triggers listed above may not affect you. Others that do may not be on the list. Talk with your doctor about what seems to make your asthma worse, and how you can reduce your exposure to them.
Asthma is diagnosed based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. You may need to see an homeopathic specialist if you:
Medical and Family Histories
Your Homeopathic doctor may ask about your family history of asthma and allergies, and whether, how often, and when you have asthma symptoms. Be sure to say whether your symptoms happen only during certain times and in certain places, or if they get worse at night.
Your doctor also may ask what triggers or worsens your symptoms, and about related health conditions that can interfere with asthma management, such as a rhinitis, sinus infections, reflux disease, psychological stress, and sleep apnoea. And mental status and the thought process which aggravates the asthmatic conditions
Your doctor will listen to your breathing and examine your chest, nose, and skin for signs of asthma or allergies, including wheezing, rhinitis, or swollen nasal passages, and allergic skin conditions (such as eczema). You can still have asthma even if you don’t exhibit these signs when you are examined.
Lung Function Test
Your doctor will check your lungs, including how fast you can blow air out. You may be given medicine, then tested again to see whether the results have improved. If the initial results are below normal and improve with the medicine, and if your medical history shows a pattern of asthma symptoms, you are likely to be diagnosed with asthma.
Other tests to diagnose asthma include:
Most children develop asthma before they are five, but it can be hard to diagnose. Sometimes, asthma symptoms occur with other conditions. Also, many young children who wheeze when they get colds or respiratory infections don’t develop asthma.
A child may wheeze because he or she has small airways that become even narrower during colds or respiratory infections. The airways grow as the child grows older, so wheezing stops. A young child who has frequent wheezing with colds or respiratory infections is more likely to develop asthma if:
The most certain way to diagnose asthma is with a lung function test, medical history, and physical exam. However, it’s hard to do lung function tests in children younger than five. Doctors must rely on medical histories, signs and symptoms, and physical exams. A four to six-week trial of asthma medicines to see how well a child responds also may be used.
De-stress your life. Strong emotions can trigger asthma. Reduce your stress and anxiety by improving your relationships, making sure you take time to relax, and writing down your worries.
Exercise has mixed benefits for asthma. Exercise is important but while studies show it improves your ability to breathe in, they also show that it doesn’t reduce the number of wheezing episodes or improve your ability to exhale the air.
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system which in turn reduces the frequency of asthma. Each time the sun shines on your skin, vitamin D is produced. Make sure you spend time outdoors each day with, where possible, at least your arms and legs exposed to the sun. Take care that you don’t burn.
The hygiene hypothesis. Children’s immune systems develop by fighting off viruses and bacteria. Keeping their environment super-clean interferes with this development, making them at greater risk of developing asthma. In other words, a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone.
The vaccine conundrum. Research 1 234 shows that vaccines are strongly linked to asthma so it would be wise to carefully consider the true risks of epidemic and infectious diseases according to the country in which you live. Be aware that healthy development of the immune system depends on the body being exposed to childhood diseases. Homoeopathic immunisation can also be a safe option should you wish to avoid the risks associated with vaccines.
Fresh fruit and vegetables improve asthma. Study after study shows that diets low in fruit and vegetables increase the risk and severity of asthma so remember; always eat at least seven serves of fresh fruit and vegetable a day.
Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces asthma symptoms when eaten regularly. Lycopene is concentrated in sauces and cooked tomatoes with raw tomato providing smaller amounts.
Raw honey contains bee pollen and propolis, both of which have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties – plus it improves immune system recovery. An open jar of raw honey placed under the nose of someone suffering an asthma attack can help them breathe more easily. As a preventative measure a teaspoon of raw honey can be either eaten or mixed in a glass of warm water and taken three times a day.
Garlic is a well known natural antibiotic. It contains a mixture of compounds that have antibacterial and antifungal effects. It also reduces lung inflammation that accompanies asthma. It was once thought that garlic had to be eaten raw to obtain these benefits, but it is now known that cooked garlic works just as well.
Ginger can break up the mucus that builds in the lungs and contributes to asthma – but it must be fresh. Make a ginger tea by combining two cups of boiling water with two tablespoons of shredded ginger Drink a cup of the tea once every two hours when asthma is a problem.
Turmeric, among other things, is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps asthma and eczema. For best results drink one teaspoon of turmeric mixed into juice three times a day on an empty stomach.
Peppermint can soothe the airways and break up mucous. Add a few drops into a bowl of steaming water and inhale. being careful not to burn yourself. Note: peppermint is a well known antidote of many homoeopathic remedies: avoid this tip if you are already using homoeopathy.
Caraway or fennel seeds can also break up mucous. Add caraway seeds to a bowl of hot water and use as a steam inhalation. Fennel seeds can be chewed or eaten raw.
Fish and fish oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and improve allergies such as asthma, especially if the ratio to omega 6 fatty acids has been unbalanced by a diet heavy with foods such red meat, pork, dairy products and polyunsaturated oils.
Homeopathy should be the treatment of choice for asthma and other allergies. It is safe and effective for babies through to the elderly. It is important to note that asthma is a chronic complaint best treated by a qualified homeopath. While some remedies discussed in this article will be found in many home-use kits because they can also treat a range of acute problems, the successful treatment of asthma frequently needs potencies and changes of remedies beyond the scope of a home kit and prescriber. For the best results please use the services of a fully qualified homeopath. The homeopathic remedies needed for asthma also vary according to the symptoms of the sufferer but some of the main ones are listed below.
Many of the following remedies are found in home-use kits.
Key Symptoms: Rattling breathing and wet sounding cough with mucus that is hard to cough up. Want to be fanned. Breathlessness worse for heat.
Supporting Symptoms: Especially useful for young children or elderly patients. Irritable and want to be left alone. Do not want to be examined or touched. Weakness.Occasional expectoration of small amounts of yellow, sticky mucus.
Comments: This is a remedy for many complaints that are accompanied by difficult breathing. While it can be indicated at any age it is frequently needed at the extremes of life – i.e., infancy or old age. The person may be drowsy or lethargic its. The respiration will often be rattling but there will be difficulty in coughing up the mucus that is obviously present. Breathing may become so difficult that the person can be bluish and sound as though they are about to suffocate. In severe cases heart failure may be present. Ant-t is also a remedy that can be used during cholera and chickenpox when indicated by the symptoms.
Arsenicum Album (Ars.)
Key Symptoms: Wheezing may be present but the cough will be dry. Asthma from cold air. Asthma worse for lying; must sit upright or bent forward to breathe.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma triggered by dampness, cold food or drinks, or watery fruit.Wheezing from allergies to cats, smoke, or dust.Thirsty for sips of warm drinks.
Comments: One of the most common remedies for acute asthma. The person will be restless and anxious, and symptoms are usually worse between midnight and 3 am. At times, the restlessness will lead to exhaustion. They will feel chilly and better for warmth, and feel better for sipping warm drinks. Those who need Ars.constitutionally are likely to be nervous, anxious, critical, and afraid of being alone. They are often perfectionists, have to keep things meticulously tidy, and can be hard to please. Burning sensations that feel better for warmth and often accompanied they are problems. Headaches however will be relieved by cold applications.
Key Symptoms: Dry asthma. Wheezing may be present but the cough will be dry.
Supporting Symptoms: Chronic bronchitis.Rattling respiration. Expectoration of profuse sticky mucus improves asthma. Suffocating sensation on falling asleep. Sleep apnoea. Breathing improved by sitting or standing.
Kali Bichromicum (Kali-bi.)
Key Symptoms: Asthma with sticky or stringy mucus. Breathing better if coughing up mucous. Cough worsened by eating.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma often dissociated with bronchitis, sinusitis, or postnasal dripping.Wheezing during sleep.
Comments: These patients feel cold, and get sick after being chilled. Despite this, they feel worse in summer. They get mucous membrane infections, mostly in the respiratory tract. The mucous will be gluey, thick, stringy and sticky. It may start out clear and then turn white or green, and can cause ulceration. Pains can appear in many parts of the body, can migrate quickly, and can be precisely located (the patient can put a finger on the spot where the pain is). They may suffer from ulcers, including stomach ulcers.
Nux Vomica (Nux-v.)
Key Symptoms: Allergic asthma. Symptoms worse at 4am or on waking in the morning.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma may be a associated with digestive complaints. Asthma triggered by cold air. Asthma worsened by eating. Asthma improved by warm drinks. Asthma from overindulgence with alcohol, food, or recreational drugs.
Comments: The first remedy to look at for hangovers, nausea and vomiting. Patients tend to overdo both work and play. They can work long hours and then have trouble sleeping at night due to business anxieties or nervous exhaustion. They will overindulge in food, alcohol, and stimulants (especially coffee), and may regret it later – as with a hangover. They can be irritable, short tempered, nervy and do not suffer fools gladly. They are at their worst in the morning or in cold weather. They tend to be neat and tidy, and expect the same from others. Pains may be cramping and spasmodic. Their stomach may feel heavy and sensetive to pressure. They are also very sensitive to smells and light.
Key Symptoms: Asthma from upper respiratory tract infections (head colds) that go down to the chest. Asthma with coughing and wheezing.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma worse from lying on the left side – may improves on lying on the right side. Hoarseness with asthma. Tickling and irritating cough. Asthma from odours (even flowers) and fumes.
Key Symptoms: Asthma from allergies. Asthma worse for warm, stuffy rooms and better in the open air.Asthma with thirstlessness.
Supporting Symptoms: ‘Juicy’ or green mucus with asthma. Asthma better the cold air or air conditioning. Breathing better for sitting propped up. Asthma with conjunctivitis and itchy eyes.Asthma from cats.Asthma worse at night.
Comments: Patients will be clingy, needy, sensitive, emotional and shy. Often they will have blue eyes and blond hair, and are likable. They can whine and be irritable, and are most often women or children. They are also very sensitive and can be hurt by even slight criticism. They may be chilly or warm-blooded, but in either case can’t stand stuffy rooms and feel better for fresh air. Discharges are bland, thick and yellow or green. Their emotions can change quickly and unexpected, as in from tears to laughter in a matter of minutes. They bend easily, and crave sympathy and attention from others, and make friends easily.