When people talk about asthma, they are really talking about bronchial asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that causes periodic “attacks” of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Although seen in all ages it is most likely to occur in children ages 4-6 years.
[pullquote]Bronchial Asthma is the result of the inflammatory condition in the bronchi. Inflammation is accompanied by swelling of the mucous membrane in the bronchi, production of viscous secretions and smooth muscle spasm narrowing the airways, which leads to a shortness of breath.[/pullquote] Asthma is associated with mast cells, eosinophils, and T lymphocytes. Mast cells are the allergy-causing cells that release chemicals like histamine. Histamine is the substance that causes nasal stuffiness and dripping in a cold or hay fever, constriction of airways in asthma, and itchy areas in a skin allergy. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell associated with allergic disease. T lymphocytes are also white blood cells associated with allergy and inflammation.
These cells, along with other inflammatory cells, are involved in the development of airway inflammation in asthma that contributes to the airway hyper responsiveness, airflow limitation, respiratory symptoms, and chronic disease. In certain individuals, the inflammation results in the feelings of chest tightness and breathlessness that’s felt often at night (nocturnal asthma) or in the early morning hours. Others only feel symptoms when they exercise (called exercise-induced asthma). Because of the inflammation, the airway hyper responsiveness occurs as a result of specific triggers.
Bronchial Asthma Triggers
Bronchial asthma triggers may include:
1. Smoking and second hand smoke
2. Infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia
3. Allergens such as food, pollen, mould, dust mites, and pet dander
5. Air pollution and toxins
6. Weather, especially extreme changes in temperature
7. Drugs (such as aspirin, NSAID, and beta-blockers)
8. Food additives (such as MSG)
9. Emotional stress and anxiety
10. Singing, laughing, or crying
11. Perfumes and fragrances
12. Acid reflux
Signs and Symptoms of Bronchial Asthma
With bronchial asthma, you may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
1. Shortness of breath
2. Tightness of chest
4. Excessive coughing or a cough that keeps you awake at night
Diagnosing Bronchial Asthma
Because asthma symptoms don’t always happen during your doctor’s appointment, it’s important for you to describe your or your child’s, asthma signs and symptoms to your doctor. You might also notice the symptoms during exercise, with a cold, or after smelling a smoke or fragrance.
Test for Asthma
1. Spirometry: A lung function test to measure the breathing capacity of the lungs. It is done by a instrument called spirometer.
2. Peak Expiratory flow (PEF): With the use of a device called peak flow meter, you will be asked to exhale or breath out forcefully into a tube to measure the force of air with which you can exhale the inspired air. It gives an indication about the capacity of lungs. Being handy and cheap it can be used by the patient itself to monitor how well her or his asthma is doing at home.
3. Chest X- ray: A chest X-ray is also done to rule out any other diseases that may be causing similar symptoms.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
1. Relievers (Bronchodilators) doing immediate reversal of airways obstruction, largely by relaxing airway smooth muscles.
2. Controllers (Preventers) suppress the underlying disease process and provide long term control of the symptoms.
Bronchial Asthma Tips
1. Chemical food colors and preservatives can trigger an asthmatic attack
2. Avoid Dust in room
3. Use vacuum cleaning and wear a dust filter mask whenever exposed to dust
4. Mild exercise is good
5. During an asthma attack, sit up straight or bend forward. Do not lie down
6. Natural urges like urination, defecation should not be forcefully blocked. This will aggravate Vata and worsen the condition
7. Exposure to cold wind should be avoided
8. Supper should be taken before sunset
9. Boiled water with dry ginger, tulsi, mulethi should be taken whenever thirsty