WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs. In Asthma, the airways become swell and produce too much mucus. This makes breathing a little tough for an individual and triggers coughing, mostly when you inhale pollutants and dust.
To understand Asthma, it is important to understand a little about your breathing process.
When you breathe, your air goes through your nose or mouth, down into your throat, and into airways. From there, it reaches your lungs. Each lung has many tiny air passages in your lungs that transmit oxygen from the air into the bloodstream. You have Asthma when the lining of the airways becomes swell resulting in stiffening of the muscles. This results in the cells producing more mucus that fills the airways, thereby reducing the amount of air that can pass through.
These conditions can trigger asthma attacks. Coughing and tightening in your chest are usually related to asthma.
For many, asthma remains less severe form in their lifetime, while for others, it can be a major problem that disrupts the quality of life of an individual and may turn out to be a life-threatening asthma attack.
You may not prevent Asthma completely, but signs can be managed well with the help of Ayurveda. Because asthma worsens over time, make sure to consult your healthcare team from time to time and make changes in your treatment as needed.
The most common form of Asthma is bronchial Asthma, in which bronchi in the lungs are affected.
There is a classification of asthma on the basis of the onset of the signs- Childhood and Adult-onset Asthma. In adult-onset asthma, the signs are not apparent until the age of 20.
Other specific types of asthma include:
Allergic asthma (extrinsic asthma)
This form of Asthma is seasonally triggered by allergens from pet dander, pollen, dust, mold food, etc.
Nonallergic asthma (intrinsic asthma)
Nonallergic asthma is triggered by irritants in the air but not allergies. Some irritants causing asthma include- burning wood, cigarette smoke, cold air, perfumes, air pollution, viral illnesses, etc.
Occupational asthma occurs due to irritants in the workplace. These include dyes, gas, and fumes, industrial chemicals, rubber latex, animal proteins, dust, to name a few.
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB)
This form of asthma is induced by physical workouts. As you start your exercise regime, you end up being tired, coughing, and this continues for up to 15-20 minutes of physical workout.
If you have asthma already, likely, you are also going to experience exercise-induced asthma EIA or EIB, but not necessarily everyone with EIB has other types of asthma.
AIA or aspirin-induced asthma is a severe form of Asthma. Mostly the cause is too much reliance on aspirin or another NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as ibuprofen (Advil). The signs may become visible in a couple of minutes or hours. Responsible for around 9% of cases of Asthma, AIA occurs in adults between the ages of 20 and 50.
Nocturnal asthma means the symptoms usually begin at night. The most common triggers inducing nocturnal asthma include heartburn, dust, pet dander, etc. The body’s natural sleep pattern may also cause nocturnal asthma.
Cough-variant asthma (CVA)
Cough-variant asthma or CVA does not come with ostensible signs of wheezing and shortness of breath. CVA attacks are followed by breathlessness and wheezing sound. If it is not managed well, CVA can progress to severe asthma attacks that include the other common signs of asthma.
Asthma signs or symptoms may vary from person to person. You may experience asthma attacks at certain times only, such as when exercising or at night. Or you may witness all the signs at frequent intervals.
The usual signs of Asthma may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Wheezing when exhaling
- Trouble sleeping due to breathlessness, coughing or wheezing
- Coughing that gets worsened by a respiratory virus or infections, such as a cold or the flu
Signs of worsening Asthma include:
- Increasing difficulty in breathing
- Frequent need of a quick-relief inhaler
When to see a doctor
If you have frequent coughing or wheezing that persists for a long time, make an appointment with a doctor right away. Treating asthma may help wave off long-term damage to the lungs and slow down the progression of the disease.
If you have asthma already, work with your healthcare team to manage it well. Ayurvedic interventions may help you feel better and reduces the risk of a life-threatening asthma attack.
There is no one cause responsible for asthma attacks. Researchers believe that disturbance in breathing can be induced by a variety of factors, such as:
- Genetics: Genes have a significant role in the development of asthma. If you have a family history, you are likely to be affected.
- Viral infections: If you have a history of viral infections, such as those triggered by the respiratory syncytial virus, you are more likely to get infected.
- Hygiene hypothesis. In the early months or years of their development, if babies are not exposed to enough bacteria, their immune systems do not become healthy enough to boost immunity.
Other common causes include:
- Physical activity
- Air pollutants or allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, etc
- Overuse of certain medications
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Sulfites and preservatives in some foods and beverages
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the throat
Ayurvedic treatment for Asthma
Asthma is a condition of the airways resulting in chest tightening, wheezing when breathing, coughing, and shortness of breath. According to Ayurveda, excessive intake of Vata (cold) and Kapha aggravated foods result in the weakening of the cells and tissues, including those of the lungs. Also, consuming stale and cold foods that are hard to digest leads to mucus formation in the lungs, which causes blockage in respiration and breathing.
The treatment at AyuKarma is inclusive of herbal medications, therapies, and the Satvik diet to calm the doshas and eliminate Ama at the cellular level. Lifestyle measures, including Yoga, are very helpful in the management of Asthma.