Asthma is a respiratory condition that, unfortunately, is becoming more common the world over. Today there are over 100 million sufferers world wide, and this figure is on the rise to the tune of 50% every decade.
Asthma can be defined as a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, that is characterized by spasm of the bronchi (airway tubes)with inflammation and swelling of the mucous membranes leading to an over production of thick phlegm in the lung and airways.
This phlegm sets off a response within the body characterized by typical asthma symptoms such as chronic coughing (especially at night), wheezing, difficulty in breathing and the difficult expectoration of thick, sticky phlegm. If not treated immediately, breathing can be impeded to the point of respiratory failure.
There are certain factors that can predispose one to having asthma. A family history of asthma or some history of allergies, definitely increases your chances of having asthma.
If you were weaned and introduced to solid food at an early age (6 months or less)the chances of you having food allergies and possibly asthma as a consequence increases dramatically. This is due to an immature digestive system being asked to digest foods it is not capable of at that time.
This places a significant stress on the under developed immune system of the baby that can lead to allergies and asthma.
Another common food related factor are food additives such as food colorings and preservatives. These factors are especially problematic for an asthma sufferer as they are in virtually everything that we eat and drink. This places a cumulative daily stress on the already stressed immune system of the asthma sufferer.
Some other dietary factors worth considering are, excessive salt intake and its connection to asthma and asthma mortality rates and dairy products which are notorious for their ability to produce phlegm.
And then there are the obvious airborne environmental allergens that we are forced to contend with. Dust, dust mites, pollens, cockroach waste and pet hair as well as allergens like pesticides (to kill the cockroaches) cleaning chemicals, perfumes and fuels (gas, petrol) pollution (air, water). The list is endless.
And if that is not enough asthma can occur as a result of excessive exercise, cold temperature, sudden emotional upset and can also be a part of a viral infection, that can occur during the virus as well as post viral.
Treatment for asthma is based around a treatment program that attempts to lessen the symptoms medicinally, while simultaneously removing whatever allergy provoking substances are in the asthmatics environment.
Most people these days look to a combination of conventional medicine (puffers for example) and alternative/herbal medicine. The combination works especially well, with many traditional herbs such as Ephedra and Gingko Biloba having a long tradition of effectively treating asthma and respiratory disorders.
As far as removing asthma causing substances from the environment, this can be a difficult. The obvious methods revolve around adequate and appropriate cleaning. Appropriate cleaning would be cleaning that doesn't complicate things by introducing another toxic substance into the picture.
Some mould cleaners are known to irritate allergy and asthma sufferers, yet we need to remove the mould from the asthmatics environment.
Fortunately these days there are many products that have been created that take this into account. Always use hypo-allergenic cleaning products.
Dust must be removed. Regular vacuuming is a must. Preferably with a vacuum fitted with an air filter that will stop "micro dust" being put back into the air as you vacuum.
An air filtration system or at least a portable air filter would also help considerably.
Pets should never be allowed in the bedroom, and ideally not in the house, although many asthma sufferers are more likely to put up with their symptoms rather than cast out their pets.
Dietary measures that can help are as much as possible removing foods high in salt, preservatives, coloring, waxes and pesticides. Wherever possible, choose organically grown and processed foods.
If this is not practical, make a habit of gently washing your food before you eat it. A bit of a nuisance for sure, but it really doesn't take all that long and is easy enough to fit into your food preparation routine. And it can make a big difference to your over stressed immune system.
If you go to the bother of carrying out these changes you will be pleased to hear that you should experience a reduction in your asthma symptoms in as little as a month.
As far as what to eat or not eat when you have asthma, most research seems to be indicating that a "Vegan" diet (NO animal food products)is your best option as animal food products often have significant pesticide residues.
If this diet is too harsh and restrictive, and it will be for many, a general reduction of animal food products will help some. Your results will largely be determined by how bad your asthma is and how much of a vegan style diet you can live with. At the very least, you can reduce if not totally eliminate animal food products.
At this point in time there are more questions than answers when it comes to the causes of asthma. The biggest question is why are asthma rates doubling every 20 years?
It seems that as good as our current treatments for asthma are, we can increase their effectiveness dramatically if we practice some preventive care.
Perhaps we will never find a "cure" for asthma. As our world gets more and more complex in terms of the stress and strain we place on our bodies, the answer seems to move farther and farther away.
The most effective treatment for any disease is prevention. Knowing what we do about asthma and knowing the effect that environmental and emotional factors can have on our immune system, if we can begin to clean up our lives on all levels, this may be our best chance of finding the next best thing to a cure for asthma. Permanent prevention.
When following these treatments to control asthma, be sure to adhere strictly to the
guidelines prescribed by your doctor for each one.