Asthma

image_asthmaAsthma is a chronic condition in your lungs that has two main components. When you have asthma, two things happen inside your lungs --- constriction, the tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways, and inflammation, the swelling and irritation of the airways. Constriction and inflammation cause narrowing of the airways, which may result in symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that, if left untreated, asthma can cause long-term loss of lung function.

 

When you have asthma and are exposed to a trigger, the airways leading to the lungs become more inflamed or swollen than usual, making it harder for you to breathe. The airways also get smaller due to a tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways, and they get "stuffed up" due to a build-up of mucus.

Several triggers can cause your asthma symptoms to flare up, and may include allergies, infections, and strong odors or fumes that you may come in contact with at your home or office. Once you are exposed to a trigger and have a reaction, your airways also become more sensitive to other triggers. So, it's important to manage your asthma every day. Airway inflammation may always be there ---even when you are not having a lot of symptoms.

Prevalence of asthma
Seventeen million Americans, five million of them children have asthma. The incidence has increased over 50% in the last fifteen years. There are over five hundred thousands hospitalizations each year, making asthma on of the top five most expensive diseases our healthcare system must cover.

Despite the prevalence, however, asthma can be controlled. Our goal, almost universally met, is that every patient enjoys a completely full life without any limitations. With understanding of the disease process and of the various medications available, patients should be able to meet this goal. Education and record keeping are key to achieving this goal.

Categorizing Asthma
Asthma is often put into categories or groups based on the "triggers" that cause the asthma symptoms or attacks. These categories or types of asthma are:

Allergic asthma
Allergic asthma is triggered by an allergic reaction to allergens such as pollens or pet dander. People with this type of asthma typically have a personal and/or family history of allergies (such as hay fever) and/or eczema (skin problem resulting in itching, a red rash, and sometimes small blisters).

Seasonal asthma
Tree pollen, grass pollen, molds spores or flowers releasing pollen can all be triggers of seasonal asthma. For example, some people find that their asthma is worse in the spring when there is an increase in flowering plants. Others find their asthma is worse in the late summer or early fall when ragweed and leaves from trees are more likely to cause problems. With careful attention and a calendar, it is simple to identify a root cause of one's asthma without the need for painful skin testing.

Non-allergic asthma
For some people with asthma, asthma attacks have nothing to do with allergies. Although these people get the same symptoms and have the same changes in their airways as patients with allergic asthma, their asthma is not triggered by allergies. Like any patient with asthma, however, asthma attacks may be triggered or made worse by one or more non-allergic asthma triggers including materials (irritants) in the air you breathe, such as tobacco smoke, wood smoke, room deodorizers, pine odors, fresh paint, household cleaning products, cooking odors, workplace chemicals, perfumes, and outdoor air pollution. Respiratory infections, such as the common cold, Influenza, or a sinus infection may also give you symptoms. Finally, exercise, cold air, sudden changes in air temperature, and even gastro esophageal reflux (heartburn) may be triggers for people with non-allergic asthma.

Exercise-induced asthma
Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) simply refers to asthma symptoms that are triggered by exercise or physical activity. These symptoms are usually noticed during or shortly after exercise. Exercising in the winter seems to be particularly bad for patients with this type of asthma as cold air and sudden changes in the temperature of the air one breathes are normally found at this time of year. Vitamin C taken before exercise has been proven in our clinic and in the research to prevent exercise induced asthma. We find a ph neutral Vitamin C to work better and the best form is ascorbyl palmitate which is fat soluble in addition to the water soluble forms of vitamin C.

Nocturnal asthma
Can occur in a patient with any type of asthma. It refers to asthma symptoms that seem worse in the middle of the night, typically between 2 and 4 AM.

Things that can cause asthma symptoms to get worse at night may include sinus infections or postnasal drip caused by allergens like dust mites or pet dander. Your body clock may also play some role: levels of substances your body makes like adrenaline and steroids, both of which protect against asthma, are lowest between 4 and 8 AM, making it easier for people with asthma to get symptoms during these times of the night.

Natural Treatment for Asthma...Latest Resarch Findings

This type of asthma responds quite weil to Acupuncture. The most effective application of Acupuncture with Seasonal Allergies is to treat the Master Points of the Lung, Large Intestine, Triple Heater, Stomach and Kidney meridians. It is most effective to treat preventatively at the change of each season. So around March 21st, June 21st, September 21st and December 21st to do a Seasonal Acupuncture treatment is very effective.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation of the mid back vertebra and at the base of the neck are also especially helpful in relieving and preventing asthma attacks. The theory of why the spinal manipulation works is that these vertebra in the neck and upper back are the circuit breakers for the nerves/electrical supply to the bronchial tubes and lungs. Adjusting these vertebra are like resetting your circuit breakers at home to your air conditioning when it is malfunctioning.

Researchers have discovered that African American children with asthma in metropolitan Washington, DC, are significantly more likely to have low levels of vitamin D than healthy children. Add this fact to the findings in an article published in the March 23, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver report that nearly 75 percent of all Americans have low vitamin D levels. Is it any wonder that asthma is becoming more and more common in our children and even adults?

This study supports recent research that suggests vitamin D plays a greater role in the body than just keeping bones healthy. Vitamin D deficiency has been recently linked to a variety of non-bone related diseases including depression, autoimmune disorders, and now asthma.

The research team found that 86 percent of the children in the study with asthma had insufficient levels of vitamin D, while only 19 percent of non-asthmatics had these low levels.

Only 5 to 37 percent of American infants meet the standard for vitamin D set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although breast milk is the perfect food in every other way, it's often low in vitamin D. Since humans originated in equatorial areas with year-round sunshine, babies in the distant past wouldn't have needed to get vitamin D from breast milk. Many mothers also are vitamin D-deficient. Based on these facts, researchers now recommend that most babies should take a daily vitamin D supplement, reports USA Today.

In addition, Mothering Magazine offers several tips on how natural medicine can strengthen immune function to prevent asthma attacks.

Massaging specific points on your child's body during asthmatic episodes helps to relieve cough, induce relaxation, and decrease wheezing. The techniques fall into two categories: pressing on acupuncture points and massage of acupuncture channels. Both are simple, straightforward, and require no training.

For more details, please see the full article in Mothering Magazine.

For your child with asthma the recommended dose of vitamin D is for 1 year and under 1000 I.U. per day and over 1 year of age it is 1000 I.U. per 25 pounds of weight and this should be factored with amount of sunlight child gets, the season of the year we are in and where you live...the further northern latitudes like here in Libertyville, IL get less sun and require more vitamin D supplementation. We have found here at HealthQuest that a liquid form of vitamin D works best for children and adults and we call it Liquid Sunshine.

 

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