The word "asthma" originates from the Greek word, ásthma that means, "panting.” Asthma is a medical condition in which the airways swells and produces extra mucus that can make breathing difficult. Because of the inflammation and the extra mucus, it can trigger shortness of breath and wheeze or coughing.
Documented as early as Ancient Egypt, Asthma can be either a minor nuisance or life-threatening. In asthma, the inside walls of the airways get inflamed so that lesser air can pass through them from and to the lungs making breathing a difficult exercise. This swelling can also make the airways really sensitive and increase a person’s susceptibility to allergic reactions.
Asthma has been on the rise significantly since the 1960s and now according to WHO estimate, around 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. In fact Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood illness.
Symptoms of Asthma-
The symptoms of asthma vary. But what most people with asthma have in common is the extreme airway sensitivity because of triggered airway inflammation. Some people have frequent asthma attacks, some people experience asthma only during certain times, some people have it all the time and some people only experience it infrequently.
Common asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Wheezing or coughing
- Shallow breathing
- Throat infection
- Faster heart rate
- Trouble in sleeping
- Difficulty in speaking
Types of Asthma-
Normally people suffering from an asthma attack tend to have a whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling. There are different types of asthma. Some of the most common types of asthma are:
1. Exercise-induced asthma
Also called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, this type of asthma is induced by strenuous exercises and can cause symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness or breath and other symptoms. These symptoms may worsen when the air is dry and cold and usually get triggered during or after an exercise.
2. Occupational asthma
As the name suggests, occupational asthma is triggered by breathing in certain chemical fumes, dust, gases, or other kinds of exposure to allergens at the workplace.
3. Allergy-induced asthma
Allergy-induced asthma is the most common type of asthma, which is triggered by common airborne allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust mites, or particles of skin.
What Are Causes of Asthma?
Although the causes are not particularly clear and anyone can get asthma at any age, it is more common childhood ailment. The studies are still underway to prove a clear asthma cause but according to the researches this disease is believed to be caused by a blend of genetic and environmental factors. Genomics, which is the study of how a person’s genes interrelate with environmental factors, may be the key to understanding why certain people are more prone to asthma than others.
Asthma triggers can differ from person to person and the key is to know what irritants trigger your asthma to ensure minimized exposure to it. Some generic asthma signs and symptoms can include:
- Cold air
- Exercise and other physical activities
- Common cold and other respiratory infections
- Airborne substances like pollen, mold spores, pet dander, cockroach waste, dust mites, etc.
- Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander
- Certain chemicals and air pollutants (smoke)
- Certain preservatives (added to food and beverages)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Certain medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing asthma including:
- Genetics. Having a family especially a blood relative suffering from asthma
- Having other allergic condition (hay fever)
- Exposure to secondary smoking
- Obesity (people who are overweight are at a greater risk of developing asthma)
- Exposure to increasing amount of smoke or other pollutants
- Occupational triggers
- Stress and anxiety
Diagnosis of Asthma-
Even though it is a common childhood disease, it doesn’t mean, as an adult one cannot develop it. If a person is feeling any of the symptoms whether a child or an adult, it is always a good idea to get checked to know for sure if you have asthma. Asthma symptoms can come and go since it is a ‘variable’ disease.
It is also important to not do self-diagnosis, as some symptoms, which may look like asthma triggers, may not be actually asthma-like persistent cough caused by other diseases like certain heart diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Effective diagnosis of Asthma depends upon its classification. There are four different classifications of Asthma:
Classification of Asthma
- Mild intermittent – It is a mild case of asthma if the symptoms last only for up to two days a week, symptoms flaring up mainly at night and asthma lasting not more than two nights in a month.
- Mild persistent – Mild persistent asthma is when the symptoms can occur twice in a week but not more than one episode per day.
- Moderate persistent – This happens when a person experiences symptoms once a day and in excess of one night a week.
- Severe persistent - Symptoms can last throughout the day and frequently at night on most days.
Diagnosis of Asthma
1. Physical test
The doctor would want to rule out other possible condition through a physical exam to get to know the signs and symptoms.
Some lung function tests can help in determining how the lung in functioning in a person.
One of the most common pulmonary function tests, spirometry measures lung function by checking the amount of air a person can inhale and exhale after deep breaths.
3. Peak flow
The peak expiratory flow is a pulmonary device that can measure the maximum speed one can breathe out. If the readings are low, it may be a sign that the person’s lungs are not working properly and could be a potential sign of asthma.
These tests can be done with a medicine called as bronchodilator (albuterol) to check if the lung functions better with the medication. If the test gets better after the use of bronchodilator, then it is highly likely for a person to suffer from asthma
Additional tests and Diagnosis For Asthma
Other tests that may be required to diagnose asthma include:
1. Methacholine challenge-
Methacholine is considered an asthma trigger and so when it is inhaled it can cause mild constriction of the airways. Most people who have asthma are likely to react to methacholine. Doctor could use this test to determine whether you have asthma.
2. Imaging tests-
Certain imaging tests like x-rays and CT scan can help in identifying certain abnormalities that might be causing breathing issues.
3. Allergy testing-
Most allergy tests can help in identifying allergy to triggers like pollen, dust, etc.
4. Sputum eosinophils-
This test can help in identifying the while blood cells in the mucus to see if asthma is present or not.
5. Nitric oxide test-
For people whose airways are inflamed, they may have higher nitric oxide level than normal which may be able to help in identifying whether the person is suffering from asthma or not.
7. Provocative testing for exercise and cold-induced asthma-
As the name suggests, in this a person is made to perform vigorous physical activities in a controlled environment to check for the triggers.
Treatment of Asthma-
Although there is no known cure available for asthma and it is generally a life-long condition, treatment can control asthma symptoms so a person can lead a normal life. Also when it comes to asthma, there is no one-size fit all treatment methodology. The idea is to understand the triggers that worsen your symptoms, taking steps to avoid them and taking the medication on time to keep asthma in check.
Inhalers are medical devices, which are used for supplying medication into the body through the lungs. There are three types of inhalers. These are:
- Reliever Inhalers: These inhalers are used for the purpose of relieving symptoms at the time of asthma attack. Normally reliever inhalers don’t have many side effects, in some people they may increase heart beat and induce shaking.
- Preventive Inhalers: True to their name, this types of inhalers are used to stop the symptoms from developing.
- Combination Inhalers: If either of these kinds of inhalers doesn’t work for a person, they would need an inhaler that would both relieve the attack and prevent it from happening again.
2. Tablets -
If inhalers don’t work to control the symptoms, one may also use tablets.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs)
LTRAs are the oral tablets prescribed for asthma and are also available in syrup and powder forms. It can be taken every day without many side effects. However, some people may experience some side effects including headaches and stomach pain.
If LTRAs tablets cannot be prescribed for some reasons or is not working, doctors may also prescribe Theophylline. It should be taken every day.
Steroid tablets are given to give relief from an asthma attack. Long-term usage of steroid tablets for is not recommended unless a person is suffering from severe asthma and if inhalers aren’t handy controlling the symptoms. Some possible side effects of using steroid tablets for long-term are mood swings, fragile bones, high blood pressure, etc.
Other treatments for Asthma
Other treatments like surgery or injections may be required in case other treatments don’t work for a person.
For certain people with severe asthma, some injections like omalizumab, mepolizumab, or reslizumab may be able control the symptoms. For some severe asthma patients, injections are prescribed every few weeks in order to control the symptoms. However, these injections should be taken only under the prescription from an asthma specialist, as these injections may are not advisable for every asthma patient.
For some people for whom treatments like inhalers, tablets, and injections don’t work or in certain cases cannot be administered, a surgical procedure called bronchial thermoplasty can be used. In this treatment, a flexible thin tube is passed down the throat into the lungs and heat is used to warm up muscles surrounding the air controlling nerves to stop causing asthma-like symptoms.
However, this process is fairly new and so much research has not been done on its long-term relief.
There are many complementary therapies that can help ease the symptoms, prevent asthma from happening, and help strengthen the lungs and the airway muscles. However, before incorporating any of these therapies in your lifestyle, it is always best to check with your asthma specialist first. These therapies include
Certain breathing exercises including yoga
- Alternative medicines like homeopathy, chiropractic, and Ayurveda
- Dietary supplements
- Certain traditional Chinese medicine
Common Myths About Asthma
Myth #1: Asthma is a psychological disease
One of the biggest beliefs that many people have is that asthma is psychological and thus they don’t believe in getting medical help. Since asthma affects the airways it is to be noted that is not psychological as it causes the immune system and the lungs to behave erratically when it comes to certain triggers.
Myth #2: Asthma medications lose their effectiveness over time
Asthma meds don’t lose their effectiveness over time and can be used for long-term if the right doses are taken as directed.
Myth #3: People with asthma should avoid physical activity
Although strenuous exercises can sometimes induce asthma, simple exercises can keep a person fit and healthy and help them lead a normal life.
Myth #4: You can outgrow asthma
Some asthma symptoms may improve over time. People also learn how to deal with asthma better as they age since they know what triggers it and what doesn’t. However, there is no outgrowing asthma because it is a lifelong condition.
Myth #5: Asthma Is Easy to Control
Asthma can be easy or difficult to control depends on the kind of asthma a person is suffering from and the triggers. Although even in mild form of asthma, the treatment is required to give the necessary relief to a person to reduce flares and maintain proper lung functions.
Asthma is a condition marked by the swelling and narrowing of the airways thus, producing excess mucus. This triggers coughing, breathing difficulties and wheezing. Asthma can be a minor inconvenience for some, while for others, it can often result in a deadly asthma attack.
It isn’t definite as to what causes asthma in some and not in others, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is a probable reason. Factors that trigger asthma is varied, and is subjective. Some common causes of asthma include:
Complications associated with asthma include:
Long-term control and prevention are the main goals of asthma treatment. Treatment generally applies learning about the things that trigger your asthma, taking necessary steps to dodge them and checking your breathing to ascertain that your regular medications are effectively controlling your asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, theophylline are some common long-term treatments to control asthma.
Medicines are prescribed based on your symptoms, age, triggers and what best keeps your asthma regulated. Also, you and your doctor need to work together to come up with a plan to counter your asthma. For example, if you think your symptoms are getting better, consult with your doctor to reduce your medication doses.
Asthma is a condition characterized by wheezing and difficulty in breathing. Asthma is a common disease that affects children, teenagers and adults alike. Depending on what triggers an asthmatic attack, asthma can be categorized as four types. These are:
A homeopath will not only determine the type of asthma, but will also delve into a detailed medical history of the patient before prescribing medication. Some forms of homeopathic medication that can be used to treat asthma are:
Asthma is a condition that severely affects the lungs. The airways become narrow and the lungs become inflamed. Its characteristic features include bronchospasm, reversible airflow obstruction and variable and recurring symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. This might be caused up to 2 to 3 times a day.
Asthma is usually triggered by:
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which tries to ‘cure’ this disease, instead of trying to provide symptomatic relief. While dealing with a case of asthma, a homeopath not only records the symptoms of the disease but also studies the medical history, family history, physical and psychological characteristics of a person. This helps to find the cause, the precipitating factors, and the hereditary tendency etc. Of special interest to a homeopath is the history of suppression of skin disease. Homeopaths believe that when there is a tendency or predisposition for a disease – it first manifests on the less vital organs, towards the periphery (like skin). If this manifestation is suppressed than the disease shifts inwards, towards the more vital organs (like lungs, heart, brain etc).
The fact that in children asthma is often preceded by eczema is observed by the allopaths also. This fact is written in all their textbooks of medicine. They say that children often ‘move-out’ of eczema and ‘move-into’ asthma. But they are unable to make a correlation. Homeopaths believe that the suppression of eczema with topical preparations, does not cure the disease/sensitivity of the person, it merely drives it inwards.
Now after ascertaining the symptoms and the cause, the homeopath tries to find a medicine which matches the symptoms as well as the general characteristics of the person. The medicine so selected is administered to the patient.
When a right medicine is given, the asthma disappears but the old eczema or skin rash reappears for some time, before finally disappearing itself. This reappearance of old symptoms is seen as a reversal of disease process and is considered a very good prognostic sign by homeopaths.
MEDICINES – There are lots of medicines in homeopathy for asthma symptoms and it is not possible to list them all here. Some of the common medicines are ars- alb, ipecac, lachesis, pulsatilla, spongia, sulphur, ignatia, antim-tart, hepar-sulph, nat-sulph, tuberculinum etc. The selection of medicine varies from patient to patient. Therefore, it is always recommended to consult a specialized homeopath for treating your individual case.
India's capital Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Though Kanpur, another Indian city, is the most polluted city in the world, Delhi is also among the top 10 polluted cities with a higher concentration of PM 2.5.
India is progressing in many fronts, but the country remains stagnant when it comes to air pollution control. As per the latest records, amongst the top 20 polluted cities on earth, 13 of them are in India. According to the World Health Organization’s Air quality guideline, the particulate matter (PM 2.5) should not be greater than 25 μg/m3 for 24 hour-mean and 10 μg/m3 for annual mean. However, surprisingly, Delhi had an average of 153 micrograms per cubic metre in its air.
Delhi's air is already causing harmful effects on the lungs and alveoli due to the increased number of pollutants in the air. It is causing severe lungs damage to children residing in Delhi. More than 4.4 million children in Delhi are now suffering from chronic lung conditions.
The reason attributed to this problem is the increased number of vehicles on the road, diesel generators, and coal factories surrounding the national capital. More than 20,000 vehicles are added every day in the country. Harmful gasses like Nitrous Oxide, Carbon Monoxide, and Carbon Dioxide has poisoned the air beyond revival.
It’s a false belief that we will be safer if we stay inside our homes rather than if we are outside harbours. The indoor air isn’t any different than outdoor air. This is because the level of PM 2.5 particles in the indoor and outdoor air is unchanged. The PM 2.5 particles, the major reason for diseases like Bronchitis, COPD and Asthma, are found as much in the indoor air as outside the doors. The diameter of these particles ranges from 0.5 nanometers to 2.5 nanometers, giving it the name PM 2.5, and in order to fight the indoor air pollution crisis, we have to find a way to break down these particles.
The only way to cut down this pollution is by bringing significant lifestyle changes in our daily living. We should concentrate more on using public transport instead of private vehicles. Cutting down the number of diesel and petrol vehicles can also prove helpful. People should shift to CNG and electric vehicles for daily commutation. These efforts, if practised on a regular basis, can bring a huge decrease in pollution.
Air purifiers can also be a healthy option for indoor purposes.
The pollutants in Delhi as well as India’s air are increasing and we aren’t safe even if we are behind the closed doors. The only way to battle this problem is getting an air purifier that will break down harmful particles in the air that are responsible for diseases.
Frequent Upper & Lower Respiratory infections occur and medicines like Antibiotics and Steroids are frequently advised to control infection and improve lung function.
Most of us have a preconceived notion that Steroids are "BAD MEDICINES" and should be avoided at all cost. But is it true?
NO, Steroids are useful medication in hands of expert Specialists, they help in crisis situations for Quick Response to reduce inflammation, reduce severity of symptoms and save lives.
Steroids are available in oral, Inhaled and Injection form. While Injections are usually for Emergency & Hospitalised patients, Oral form (Tablets/Syrups) & Inhaled (Rotacaps/Inhalers/Nebulising solutions) are used commonly.
So what are the side effects of steroid use?
Minor side effects (on short term use)
Serious Side Effects (due to Prolonged use) may raise risk of:
So what is the verdict ??
Steroids are Potent, Patient friendly, Safe medicines when prescribed by doctors for short periods of disease or emergency, any long term therapy should always be under Expert Doctor Supervision & due risk management.
All respiratory patients should undergo Vaccinations & Pulmonary Rehabilitation to help reduce "Flare ups".
Asthma is a respiratory disease that takes place with a variety of symptoms including breathlessness, wheezing and coughing. It usually occurs when the airways get obstructed which in turn leads to inflammation of the tubes. So how can you recognise the signs and symptoms of asthma?
Here is a list of ways!
- Risk Identification: It has been observed by doctors and medical science that there is no specific reason for the onset of this ailment. It can be caused due to genetic as well as environmental factors. So, in order to recognise the symptoms, you will first of all have to take stock of both these factors. Find out if you have any blood relatives who have suffered from this ailment and try to find out how is started, and at what age, so that you can watch out for the same warning signs. Also, if you are more prone than others when it comes to allergic conditions like rhinitis and atopic dermatitis, then you are at risk. Other risk factors also include living in a high pollution zone, as well as being overweight, smoking, working within close range of exhaust fumes and other chemicals, and other such factors.
- Symptom Identification: To be able to identify whether or not you are at risk, you must identify the potential symptoms including persistent shortness of breath, which may strike regularly. Also, another symptom is not being able to sleep comfortably due to excessive coughing and breath shortness as well as shallow breathing and wheezing. You may also experience some amount of chest tightening or constriction. These symptoms will usually get worse if you happen to be suffering from the flu or a cold.
- Respiratory Health: If you are suspecting the onset of this disease, it would be a good idea to watch your respiratory health by observing the rise and fall of your breath when you are doing energy consuming and strenuous activities like exercising or other such tasks. Sports induced asthma is an actual condition that can get worse when your lungs are faced with cold and dry air. Also, if you are facing exhaust fumes and chemicals as a part of your job, then you are at risk of occupational asthma, in which case you should watch your respiratory health very closely. These symptoms can also get worse when you are around animals and pets due to the allergens that may trigger wheezing and coughing. A lung function test can be conducted by the pulmonologist in case you are suffering from any of these symptoms and conditions on a persistence and prolonged basis.
Knowing and reporting your symptoms to the doctor is important for getting timely treatment.
Inhalers have been proved to be the safest and most effective way to treat and control asthma and COPD, as the inhaled medication reaches the lungs directly and do not need to go through your blood stream first.
Asthma happens to be derived from of the Greek word 'toiled breathing' or ‘gasping'. Asthma is a condition portrayed by a paroxysmal wheezing breath dyspnoea (trouble in breathing), for the most part expiratory.
Factors that may induce asthma
As indicated by the etiology, bronchial asthma is separated in the accompanying gatherings:
1. Unfavorably susceptible (outward / atopic) Asthma: This sort of asthma is more often than not begins in youth and is frequently gone before by dermatitis. Be that as it may, a large portion of the youthful grown-ups (35 yrs) creating asthma likewise fall in this class. Hereditary elements likewise assume a huge part is this. In this sort of asthma the allergen prompts to generation of over the top (IgE) immunoglobulins.
2. Infective or Intrinsic Asthma: This is not innate or unfavorably susceptible, but rather might be brought on by, or if nothing else connected with upper respiratory tract or bronchial contamination which is generally popular.
Signs and symptoms of Asthma
Repetitive scene of paroxysmal dyspnoea (trouble in breathing). The breathing is worked, with a wheezing sound, for the most part on close. Asthma assaults regularly happen in the early hours of morning (when there is no prompt accelerating cause). Amid the assault patients frequently wants to sit then rests.
Medications: There are loads of meds in homeopathy for asthma side effects, but the choice of prescription fluctuates from patient to tolerant.
Ipecac (As per Medical Suggestion): This remedy is a nearby homeopathic metaphor to asthma, particularly to the convulsive assortment where the manifestations are incredible weight and uneasiness around the midsection.
Arsenicum (As per Medical Suggestion): As expressed above, this remedy has some similitude to other remedies, yet the season of assaults is soon after 12 pm. The patient has a lot of anguish and anxiety; he can't rests because of a paranoid fear of suffocation.
Nux vomica (As per Medical Suggestion): This remedy is a valuable remedy when the asthmatic assaults are brought on by gastric unsettling influences; basic fitful asthmas; there is some help by burping, the patient must extricate the apparel.
Kali bichromicum (As per Medical Suggestion): The potashes deliver asthmatic condition and under this remedy we discover the assaults going ahead around three or four o'clock in the morning, convincing the patient to sit up to breath.
Thyme is one of the most famous herbs from the mint family. It is a common herb present in every spice set for garnishing and flavouring of the dish. In fact, apart from its modern-day use, it had been used by Egyptians in the process of mummification as well as by the Greeks as a form of incense. However, apart from its culinary uses, it is gaining a reputation as one of the most useful ingredients with several medicinal properties. Some of these medicinal properties are highlighted below.
Thus, these are some of the most important uses of thyme apart from adding flavouring to some of your favourite dishes.