Do you ever think about your breath? Breathing is something you do 12-18 times per minute every day of your life. Most of us take this practice, which is essential for life, for granted every day.
For the 25 million people that suffer from asthmatic breathing, or the inability to breathe during an asthma attack, problems with breathing can be scary and life-threatening.
Asthma is a lifelong lung disease that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. It causes the lungs to be overly sensitive and to develop inflammation.
During an asthma attack the airways that lead into the lungs become smaller and narrower, making it hard for air to pass into the lungs. The muscles in the airways constrict and make the airways even smaller.
Finally any particles in the air cause the mucous cells to secrete mucus, which also blocks the airways from allowing air into the lungs. The combination of all these actions creates tightness and constriction in the chest, difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Asthma attacks or episodes can be mild or severe, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms listed above and make sure you are carrying appropriate medications.
The causes of asthma are not well known. There has been research on one possible cause which involves interaction with viral infections or allergens in early infancy while the immune system is developing. Parents that have asthma tend to pass it on genetically to their children.
While we don’t know all the causes of asthma we certainly can identify several triggers including:
- Viral infections
- Cigarette smoke
- Allergic reactions to environmental allergens
- Pollutants and air particle
- Sudden temperature changes
- Strenuous exercise
When using conventional treatments there are two general types of medications: controller medications and quick relief medications.
Controller medications help to manage asthma to prevent sudden episodes. The controller medication group includes corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation and mucus production.
Corticosteriods have harmful health implications with long-term use so they must be taken cautiously and under the supervision of a physician.
Quick relief medications or rescue medications relax the muscles, allowing more air to flow through the lungs and improving breathing.
Even with successful treatment is it important to carry emergency medications for severe attacks for safely at all times.
Asthma can be managed well with naturopathic treatments which can be a great alternative to long-term corticosteroid use. Since we treat the underlying causes of illnesses we focus on decreasing inflammation in the lungs to reduce the severity of attacks.
We work with the immune system to decrease oversensitivity to triggers. We help to reduce mucus formation in the lungs. We help relieve muscle constriction in the lungs. The combination of these reduces symptoms and severity.
So even if you have asthma you can take a deep breath and know there are ways to manage your illness so it doesn’t control your life.