Asthma is a chronic disease that affects a person’s airways, which are the tubes (bronchial tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. When a person is affected by asthma, the inside walls of his or her airways become sore and swollen, making them very sensitive to pollen or pollutants. When the airways react to an allergen or pollutant, they get narrower, restricting the amount of air that can reach the lungs. Once the oxygen supply to the lungs is reduced, the patient begins to experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing.
During a severe asthma attack, a person’s airways can close so tightly that vital organs are deprived of a significant amount of oxygen. If the vital organs are deprived of oxygen for too long, a person can die as result of the asthma attack.
People who suffer recurrent asthma attacks also display:
- Daytime fatigue
- Reduced activity levels
- School and work absenteeism
Until the 1950’s, asthma sufferers consistently failed to receive the proper treatment for this disease, because mainstream medicine believed it to be a psychosomatic illness and recommended treatments were built around this false understanding of the condition.
PREVALENCE OF ASTHMA
According the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people currently suffer from asthma, and 205 thousand people worldwide died in 2005 from asthma. The disease straddles all income groups and all population groups around the world, but for those who live in major urban centers, the problem is much more widespread. Whereas about 5% of the world’s population suffers from asthma, in some world urban centers, as much as 40% of the children in those urban centers have been documented as asthma sufferers.
Here are some additional statistics about the prevalence of asthma around the world:
- Affects 30% of children in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
- Affects 20% of children in Peru, New Zealand and Australia.
- More than 6% of children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma.
- The WHO estimates there are between 15 and 20 million asthmatics in India.
- In the U.S., urban residents, Hispanics, and African Americans are affected more than the population as a whole.
- In the US, asthma prevalence is highest in Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Filipinos and Native Hawaiians, and lowest in Mexicans and Koreans.
- Globally, asthma is responsible for about 180,000 deaths annually.
Asthma is a disease that affects both children and adults, but it is much less prevalent in adult populations. Experts suggest that 54% of children will not carry the disease into adulthood. Of course, many experts suggest that the treatment itself is nothing more than maintenance of the condition and the cure comes in adulthood, when the person’s autoimmune system and lungs have fully matured.
Asthma has a relatively low fatality rate compared to other chronic diseases, but of the 255 thousand who died in 2005, 80% of those came from low to lower-middle income families.
CAUSES OF ASTHMA
The fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood by medical science. The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are believed to be a combination of: genetic predisposition with environmental exposure, inhaled substances, or particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways. Here are examples of some of the known triggers for asthma:
- Indoor allergens (house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander)
- Outdoor allergens (pollens and molds)
- Chemical irritants in the workplace
- Tobacco smoke
- Air pollution
- Cold air
- Extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear
- Physical exercise
Even certain medications have been known to trigger asthma attacks:
- Other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs
- Beta-blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and migraine)
COMMON MEDICAL APPROACHES TO TREATING ASTHMA
Specific types of treatments for asthma are broadly classified as relievers, prevention drugs, and emergency treatment.
- Long-acting bronchodilators (LABD) are recommended for short-term relief in all patients.
- For patients who experience at least two attacks per week, physicians frequently administer low-dose inhaled glucocorticoids or a combination of an oral leukotriene modifier, a mast-cell stabilizer, or theophylline.
- For patients who suffer daily attacks, a higher dose of glucocorticoid in conjunction with a long-acting inhaled β-2 agonist may be prescribed; or alternatively, a leukotriene modifier or theophylline may be substituted for the β-2 agonist.
- In severe asthmatics, oral glucocorticoids may be added to the above-described treatments during severe attacks.
Fast-acting bronchodilators are frequently distributed to patients through pocket-sized, metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) or nebulizers. Nebulizers work by vaporizing a dose of medication mixed with a saline solution, into a steady stream of foggy vapor that is inhaled continuously until the full dosage is administered.
There are four major types of asthma drugs: Bronchodilators, Anti-Inflammatory drugs, Leukotriene blockers and Anti-Ige medications. Once diagnosed with asthma, physicians may prescribe one or more asthma medications to relieve asthma symptoms and control asthma over the long-term. Here is a list of common pharmaceutical drugs that are prescribed to treat this condition:
- Accolate Oral
- Advair Diskus Inhaler
- Aerobid Inhl
- Alupent Inhl
- Asmanex Twisthaler Inhl
- Azmacort Inhl
- Beclomethasone Dipropionate Nasl
- Brethine Oral
- Fluticasone Drug Information
- Foradil Inhl
- Intal Inhl
- Maxair Inhl
- Medrol Oral
- Pediapred Oral
- Pred Forte Opht
- Proventil Oral
- Pulmicort Turbuhaler
- Qvar Inhl
- Serevent Inhl
- Singulair Drug Information Page
- Xolair SubQ
- Xopenex HFA Inhaler
- Zyflo Oral
NATURAL REMEDIES AND TREATMENTS FOR ASTHMA
It has been estimated that 50% of all asthma sufferers utilize alternative medical treatments and natural remedies to address this condition.
While not a comprehensive list, we are going to address some of the most common treatments for asthma here.
- Honey is one of the most common home remedies for asthma. Although honey is mixed with several consumable remedies, this top suggestion is not derived from the consumption of honey, but from breathing the air that passes over the honey.
- Figs have proven to be very helpful in the treatment of asthma. Figs are also recommended in the treatment of asthma, coughs, chills and even diabetes. Syrup made from methi seeds, figs and honey is very effective when it comes to cough and bronchial asthma.
- Lemon has also been found beneficial in the treatment of asthma. The juice of one lemon, diluted in a glass of water and taken with meals, will bring positive improvements to asthma sufferers.
- Five grams of Indian gooseberry mixed with one tablespoon of honey forms an effective medicinal tonic for the treatment of asthma, and should be consumed every morning.
- A teaspoon of “bitter gourd plant root” paste, mixed with an equal amount of honey or the juice of holy basil leaves, taken nightly for a month, has proven to be an excellent medicine to fight asthma.
- Adding a handful of drumstick leaves to 180ml of water and boiling it for five minutes will make a nice soup. After the soup has been cooked, salt, pepper and limejuice are used for seasoning. It is suggested that this soup should be consumed daily for the treatment of asthma.
- A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction (made by mixing one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in a cupful of water) and honey to taste, acts as an excellent expectorant in cases of asthma. Should be consumed in the morning and evening.
- Ten garlic cloves, boiled in 30 ml of milk, make an excellent medicine for the early stages of asthma. This mixture should he taken once daily. Hot ginger tea with two minced garlic cloves in it, can be taken as an alternative, and should be taken in the morning and evening.
- Half a teaspoon of the herb bishop’s weed should be mixed in a glass of buttermilk and taken twice daily. It is an effective remedy for relieving difficult expectoration caused by dried-up phlegm.
- Half a teaspoon of powder of the dry Safflower seeds, mixed with a tablespoon of honey, can be taken once or twice a day in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
BEYOND BASIC TREATMENTS IS ALWAYS A GOOD DIET
In any alternative health regime, exercise and diet are perhaps the most important and most overlooked parts of the treatment regimen. With asthma, there are foods to avoid and foods that should be worked into one’s diet.
An asthmatic should always avoid carbohydrates, fats and proteins in his or her diet, which are ‘acid-forming’ foods. The asthma patient should also avoid foods that tend to produce phlegm, such as rice, sugar, lentils, and yogurt. Fried and other difficult to-digest foods are also problem foods. Strong teas, coffee, alcoholic beverages, condiments, sauces, pickles, and all refined and processed foods, have also been shown to make asthma worse in patients.
Along side this list of foods to avoid, there are also foods that should be added to one’s diet. It is recommended that the asthmatic should try to insert a liberal quantity of alkali-forming foods, such as fresh fruits, green vegetables, sprouted seeds, and grains into his or her diet.
With nearly 50% of all asthmatics shopping natural remedies for the treatment of their asthmatic symptoms, it may be clear to many that current medical treatments simply do not deliver the kinds of solutions people are looking to find.
It is our hope that this article will give you some insight into alternative health remedies that you can use in the treatment of your asthma, or the asthma of a family.
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