Asthma Treatments

We all know that asthma is a chronic or long term disease of the respiratory airways in which there is difficulty in smooth inflow and outflow of air through the breathing tubes. During the asthma attack the breathing tubes tighten up due to constriction of the smooth muscle cells lining these tubes, thus narrowing the air passage. Secretion of mucus to this inflamed respiratory airway undermines the air flow even more. The severity of the asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness may vary with changes in house, school or work atmosphere by reducing or preventing the exposure to various factors which triggers the asthma attack or worsen it.  Proper diagnosis of asthma should be done before starting the treatment as there are many diseases like emphysema in which the symptoms closely resembles with that of asthma.

Since asthma is a long term disease it cannot be cured but only controlled with proper management and it may often require life long treatment. To carry on life long treatment one should consult the doctor regularly with out fail. The asthma treatment mainly aims at acting on the symptoms either by reducing or preventing it in such a way that it won’t affect your day to day activities. For a better asthma management one should keep certain goals in mind such as to:

  • Prevent asthma attack.
  • Prevent the need of emergency treatment.
  • Maintain normal lung function.
  • Minimize the medication.  
  • Carry on normal life activities without restriction.

To achieve this goal one should be aware of the asthma attack triggers and try to avoid them as much as possible. Changing the environmental condition helps alot in lessening the frequency of attack. Following are some of the changes which should be adopted:

  • Clean your house regularly.
  • Beddings should be washed every week if possible in hot water.
  • Contacts with pets having feather or fur should be avoided.
  • Instead of carpeting the floor apply ceramic tiles or hardwoods.
  • Clean the curtains frequently.
  • Use air conditioner.
  • Low humidity   of less than 50 percentages should be maintained within the house to reduce the dust mite and fungal growth.

Besides changing the environmental condition, the lung function should also be monitored. A Peak Flow Meter helps in monitoring the lung function. Peak flow meter is a device which indicates how well air moves out of the lungs during exhalation. The patient will be asked to blow into the device. Then a peak flow number will be shown which corresponds to your lung function at the time of test. Lung function usually decreases two or three days prior to asthma attack. If the peak flow number is found to be down by 20 percentages than the normal best effort it indicates an upcoming asthma attack.

The treatment of asthma falls into two major categories. They are Long Term Control and Quick Relief Medications.

Long term control involves the daily intake of medicines which helps in controlling the persistent asthma. Corticosteroid inhalation is the most effective medicine used in long term control. It helps in relieving the inflammation and swelling in the breathing tubes. But the corticosteroids also show side effects in some patients. It may increase the risk of osteoporosis or cataract. Corticosteroids when gets spread on mouth and throat while inhaling may lead to mouth infection known as Thrash. Trash can be prevented either by washing the mouth after inhalation or with the use of spacers or holding chambers. Most of the long term medicines are taken through mouth which helps in opening up the airways and thus preventing the inflammation. Example: long acting B2 aganist, leukotriene modifiers like.

Quick Relief Medicines on the other hand are taken at the time of asthma attack to relieve the symptoms by relaxing the smooth muscles. These medicines should be used as soon as the initial symptoms are noticed. A quick relief medicine does not help in reducing the inflammation thus should not be used to replace long term medicine. It should not be used more than two days a weak. Example: short acting B-2 agonist.

The medicines used for asthma treatment is mainly of two types. The first type is Anti inflammatory drugs or Corticosteroids which helps in reducing the inflammation in the breathing tubes. They are administered either through a metered dose inhaler or orally as tablets or in liquid form. Example: Cromolyn Sodium, Flunisolide, Beclomethasone, pedipred etc.  The second type is Bronchodilators which helps in increasing the diameter of air passages helping the smooth flow of air during respiration. They are of two types, short acting and long acting type. Example: Metaproterenol, terbutaline, salmeterol etc.

In infant or childhood asthma quick relieve medicines are more effective. But if the disease persists even after the age of 6, then long term control treatment is followed. The medicines are usually given for a trial period of one month to six weeks and continued depending on its effectiveness. In children the corticosteroids are given orally in liquid form. Nebulizers are used in children for the administration of larger continuous dose of medicine.

In case of exercise induced asthma, certain changes in the physical activity may reduce the onset of attack. Warm up exercises should be done slowly and when the chest tightness is felt, stop and stretch for few minutes. If chest tightness is felt during heavy exercise, slow down the activity. Giving a break in between the exercise like this helps preventing the asthma symptoms. While exercising in cold whether wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Short acting B-2 agonist taken just before the physical activity will be effective for 2-3 hours on the other hand long actingB-2 agonist has much longer effect for about 12 hours. Leukotriene modifiers are also effective in relieving asthma symptoms.

Similarly a pregnant woman who is asthmatic should control the disease to ensure proper oxygen supply to her baby.  Poorly controlled disease may lead to premature delivery of the baby with low birth weight. So it is better to prevent the disease than going for treatment after the attack.

Even though these treatments are very effective, most people try alternative treating therapies due to the dissatisfaction in steroid medication as it has many side effects.  The naturopathic asthma treatment was found to be completely effective with long lasting results and without any side effects. Following are the main aims of natural treatment:

  • Maintain proper functioning of the excretory organs by its stimulation.
    • The colon is cleaned of the morbid matters by giving an enema.
    • The congestion in the abdomen and respiratory system is relieved by applying mud pack on stomach and wet pack on stomach.
    • Steam bath and hot foot bath is done which helps in the stimulation of skin and also in relieving the lung congestion.
  • Maintain a good diet plan which helps the body in eliminating morbid matters.
    • The asthma patients should avoid acidic foods and consume alkaline foods like fruits, vegetables, honey etc.
    • They should eat slowly, chew thoroughly and of course should eat only lesser than their capacity.
    • Food with high carbohydrate and protein content like bananas, milk, rice etc. should be avoided since it increases phlegm formation.
    • Avoid cold foods like ice creams, cool drinks etc.
    • Around 20 glasses of fresh water should be drunk daily which helps in keeping the lungs open and also relieving the phlegm.
    • The severity of attack can be reduced by consuming turmeric mixed in milk every morning on empty stomach. Garlic, either as such or mixed with milk or ginger and tea is also effective.
    • Honey, is one of the most beneficial medicine for asthmatics. Honey helps in reducing the cough. It can be consumed directly or by mixing in water or in milk. Breathing over a jar containing honey helps in relieving the asthma attack.
    • Inhaling steam from water boiled with Tulsi leaf also gives a sudden relief.
  • Strengthen the respiratory and circulatory system through yogasanas.

Yoga helps in relaxing both mind and body. It helps in reducing stress, anxiety than drugs do and also proved to have long term effect in controlling respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. It helps in stabilizing the body’s immune system. Yoga philosophy says that a calm mind always helps in producing a relaxed body and regular breathing. Thus yoga definitely helps in controlling asthma attack. Following are some of the yogic practices effective for asthmatics:

  • Pranayama
  • Padmasana
  • Bhujangasana
  • Vajrasana
  • Ushtrasana
  • Kapalbhati
  • Anuloma viloma
  • Matsyasana
  • Gomukhasana
  • Padahasthasana
  • Ardha chakrasana
  • Paschimothanasana
  • Shavasana

In addition to these treatments one should try to lead the life as natural as possible by staying out in fresh natural air and sun daily and keeping themselves away from the asthma triggering factors. Such changes in lifestyle along with proper medication helps a lot in controlling the asthma to a greater extend.