What is Asthma?

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Back-to-Directory A health article about Asthma from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes (airways) that causes swelling and narrowing (constriction) of the airways. The result is difficulty breathing. The bronchial narrowing is usually either totally or at least partially reversible with treatments.

Asthma At A Glance

• Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes (airways) that causes swelling and narrowing (constriction) of the airways. The bronchial narrowing is usually either totally or at least partially reversible with treatments.
• Asthma is now the most common chronic illness in children, affecting one in every 15.
• Asthma involves only the bronchial tubes and usually does not affect the air sacs or the lung tissue. The narrowing that occurs in asthma is caused by three major factors; inflammation, bronchospasm, and hyperreactivity.
• Allergy can play a role in some, but not all, asthma patients.
• Many factors can precipitate asthma attacks and are they are classified as either allergens or irritants.
• Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and chest tightness.
• Asthma is usually diagnosed based on the presence of wheezing and confirmed with breathing tests.
• Chest x-rays are usually normal in asthma patients.
• Avoiding precipitating factors is important in the management of asthma.
• Medications can be used to reverse or prevent bronchospasm in patients with asthma.

REFERENCES: Murray, J., Nadel, J. (2000). Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. Third edition. Philadelphia: W.B Saunders Company.

Signs & Symptoms

The most common symptoms are difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.

asthma & allergies

Even if you have only one of these signs -- like chronic coughing -- it may be due to asthma. Other symptoms, like sweating or rapid heart rate, may be present.

During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways becomes inflamed, the airways constrict tighter and tighter, and excess mucus builds up inside the airway passages. It becomes very hard for air to pass through the airways.

Asthma can be triggered by most of the same things that trigger allergies (dust mites, mold, animal dander, cockroaches, etc). A key step in controlling asthma is to identify which of these triggers make your asthma worse, and then work to eliminate or avoid them. It also can be triggered by cold air, exercise, respiratory viruses, and other factors.

People with asthma have very sensitive airways that are constantly on the verge of over-reacting to asthma triggers. Asthma is "reversible" -- in other words, it can be treated with medication to keep the symptoms under control.

Signs and symptoms for asthma may include:

• Shortness of breath
• Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath
• Excessive coughing
• Wheezing
• Chest tightness
• Chest pain
• Need to use bronchodilators to open up airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles

Types of Asthma

There are four levels of asthma severity. Asthma is classified based on how often symptoms occur during the day, how often symptoms occur at night, and spirometry results. The severity of your asthma impacts the treatment strategy.

What Triggers Asthma?

Asthma symptoms may be activated or aggravated by many agents. Not all asthmatics react to the same triggers. Additionally, the effect that each trigger has on the lungs varies from one individual to another. In general, the severity of your asthma depends on how many agents activate your symptoms and how sensitive your lungs are to them. Most of these triggers can also worsen nasal or eye symptoms.

Triggers fall into two categories:

• Allergens ("specific")
• Nonallergens - mostly irritants (nonspecific)

Once your bronchial tubes (nose and eyes) become inflamed from an allergic exposure, a re-exposure to the offending allergens will often activate symptoms. These "reactive" bronchial tubes might also respond to other triggers, such as exercise, infections, and other irritants. The following is a simple checklist.

Common Asthma Triggers:

Allergens

• "Seasonal" pollens
• Year-round dust mites, molds, pets, and insect parts
• Foods, such as fish, egg, peanuts, nuts, cow's milk, and soy
• Additives, such as sulfites
• Work-related agents, such as latex
Allergy Fact

About 80% of children and 50% of adults with asthma also have allergies.

Irritants

• Respiratory infections, such as those caused by viral "colds," bronchitis, and sinusitis
• Drugs, such as aspirin, other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs), and beta blockers (used to treat blood pressure and other heart conditions)
• Tobacco smoke
• Outdoor factors, such as smog, weather changes, and diesel fumes
• Indoor factors, such as paint, detergents, deodorants, chemicals, and perfumes
• Nighttime
• GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder)
• Exercise, especially under cold dry conditions
• Work-related factors, such as chemicals, dusts, gases, and metals
• Emotional factors, such as laughing, crying, yelling, and distress
• Hormonal factors, such as in premenstrual syndrome

Risk Factors:

Who is at risk? (delete page prompts)

Prevention:

If you are dust-sensitive, especially if you have allergies and/or asthma, you can reduce some of your misery by creating a "dust-free" bedroom. Dust may contain molds, fibers, and dander from dogs, cats, and other animals, as well as tiny dust mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets, thrive in the summer and die in the winter. They will, however, continue to thrive in the winter if the house is warm and humid. The particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead mites and their waste products, The waste products actually provoke the allergic reaction. (Source: excerpt, Read full article How to Create a Dust-Free Bedroom, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Treatment/Therapy:

Asthma is curable largely. Medications exist that may be used in combination to cure. There are four recognized types of treatments, such as:

Long-term-control medications - used on a regular basis to control chronic symptoms and prevent attacks. Inhaled steroids, which prevent inflammation, are generally a doctor's first choice for daily control. For moderate-to-severe asthma, steroids are even more effective when combined with long-acting beta agonists.

Quick-relief medications - these can be used as needed for rapid, short-term relief of symptoms in case of a sudden attack. These medicines are used DURING an asthma attack to bring fast relief. Short acting beta-agonists are the most effective and most widely used drugs for treating asthma attacks. They also can be used just before exercising to help prevent exercise-induced symptoms. They work by relaxing the muscles that tighten around the bronchial tubes during an attack. Albuterol is the most commonly used short-acting beta-agonist

Immunotherapy - mmunotherapy decreases sensitivity of the body to a particular allergen.

Anti-IgE monoclonal antibodies - these drug products are designed to prevent the immune system from reacting to allergens.

In addition to these medication there are a number of methods of building the immune system and your bodies overall wellness so that the trigger factors that initiate an asthma attack are not sufficient to actually trigger it.

That means the symptoms of asthma can show significant improvement.

This method of improving overall health and wellness is discussed below.

Self Care strategies for Living with Asthma

Advice from medial sources seem to agree in their belief that Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with proper asthma management. The first step in asthma management is environmental control. Asthmatics cannot escape the environment, but through some changes, they can control its impact on their health. Listed below are some ways to change the environment in order to lessen the chance of an asthma attack:

• Clean the house at least once a week and wear a mask while doing it
• Avoid pets with fur or feathers
• Wash the bedding (sheets, pillow cases, mattress pads) weekly in hot water
• Encase the mattress, pillows and box springs in dust-proof covers
• Replace bedding made of down, kapok or foam rubber with synthetic materials
• Consider replacing upholstered furniture with leather or vinyl
• Consider replacing carpeting with hardwood floors or tile
• Use the air conditioner
• Keep the humidity in the house low

Diet change strategies:

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

After going to such lengths to gather together the best information for you on asthma and living with it I am now going to offer you an alternative viewpoint that flies in the face of all the science.

For this reason I will tell you of my own experience with working with nutrition products for over a decade. This means I am giving you anecdotal information and making no medical claims.

If you decided to make changes in the way you deal with your asthma you should always consult your medical practitioner first. It is wise, if using herbal and vitamin based nutrition product to continue with your medication and then when you see a significant improvement you may reduce your medication under the care and with the advice of yor medical practitioner.

I have found that most people have asthma attacks when something triggers it.

This is not an important observation in itself as all the medial science indicates this to be true.

I have also noticed that when people get onto a nutritional program that builds their general wellness, builds the strength of their immune system and leaves them overall more healthy then in very many cases the allergens that trigger an asthma attack can be present and yet the attack is not triggered.

From viewing over 50 cases where asthma suffers have used a herbal nutrition programs in every case the individuals saw some improvement in their situations.

In most cases within 60 days, and in many cases sooner, the need for medication to treat asthma attacks is significantly reduced.

One chap told me of his asthma problems and how he was a long term sufferer. He told me that he was using 3 different puffers every day and had been for a lot longer than they were recommended to be used for.

He began on a herbal based nutrition program for weight loss and within a week he found his energy increased and he was losing weight and inches.

What surprised him was that he was going for longer periods between asthma attacks.

The improvement continued steadily and 6 weeks after starting the program he realized that he had been 5 days without use of the short term puffer he used when an attack was coming on.

He told me that the feeling was like the sun coming out on a cloudy day, his spirit lifted and he felt free for the first time in a very long time. It was like the black cloud of a nightmare that was always close, somewhere just behind him, had suddenly disappeared.

After watching a grown man tell a tale like this with tears in his eyes I have to recommend to you that you look closer into the value of herbal nutrition supplement as a possible support to your overall wellness situation.

To understand how this is possible I strongly recommend you read this nutrition article.

More Resources available about Dealing with Asthma:



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