by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~

Asthma is divided into two categories. Intrinsic asthma is when there seems to be no identifiable cause and often starts later in life. This tends to be chronic and long lasting. Extrinsic asthma, which has a cause due to something that is usually inhaled, often triggering an episodic attack. Exercise induced asthma falls under this category and is usually brought on by strong exertion.

Asthma is a disorder, which affects the lungs. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. Asthma can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding the triggers that can cause an attack. You must also remove the triggers in your environment that can make your asthma worse.

Asthma attacks occur when, the muscle around the bronchi go into spasm. The bronchi narrow and breathing becomes difficult. Inflammation can also swell the lining of the air tubes. Mucous may increase blockage to the air tubes as well. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest and coughing.

Western medicine looks at several factors when diagnosing asthma, which include:
1. Mast cells, which are the allergy-causing cells that release chemicals
2. Eosinophils, which are a type of white blood cell associated with allergic disease
3. T lymphocytes, which are also white blood cells associated with allergy and inflammation.

The reason that bronchospasms can be triggered by allergies is that histamine, the chemical most responsible for allergy symptoms, seems to play a role in asthma attacks as well. But many other things besides histamine can trigger an attack: strenuous exercise, cigarette smoke, respiratory infections, industrial chemicals, aspirin, pet dander, indoor pollution and the sulfites added to many foods.

Bronchial asthma, is really another name for asthma. This inflammatory disease of the airways mirrors the signs and symptoms of asthma. With bronchial asthma, the differential symptom is usually excessive coughing or a cough that keeps you awake at night, along with shortness of breath, chest tightness and wheezing.

Bronchial asthma triggers can be caused by: smoke or smoking, infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia, allergens such as food, pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander, strenuous exercise, air pollution and toxins, weather, especially extreme changes in temperature, drugs (such as aspirin, NSAID, and beta-blockers), food additives (such as MSG), emotional stress and anxiety, singing, laughing, or crying, perfumes, or sprays and/or acid reflux.

In certain cases, the inflammation results in the feelings of chest tightness and breathlessness often felt at night (nocturnal asthma) or in the early morning. Other cases only feel symptoms when they exercise (exercise-induced asthma). Because of the inflammation, the airway hyper-responsiveness occurs as a result of certain triggers.

There is a strong linked between allergies and bronchial asthma. Those with other respiratory disorders such as chronic sinusitis, middle ear infections, and nasal polyps were much more likely to have nighttime awakening due to asthma.

The Asthma Check List

1. First and foremost, remember: there is always something you can do about your health! Learn to incorporate lifestyle change and implement changes that work for you! You can control your asthma by knowing the warning signs of an attack and avoid triggers that cause an attack.

2. Chronic stress has been linked to a worsening of asthma and allergies. Severe anxiety can trigger attacks, and stress generally aggravates asthma symptoms. Get chronic stress under control.

3. If you have asthma you should avoid cigarette smoke, if you smoke, quit.

4. You should do mild exercise…swimming, light aerobics or weight training. Avoid strenuous physical exercise.

5. Eat a healthy diet. Try to determine which foods in your diet trigger attacks and avoid them.

6. Those who are sensitive to mold and outdoor air pollution should consider limiting outdoor activities when levels are high. In hot, humid climates, this may require the use of air conditioning and/or dehumidifiers. In large cities where air pollution problems are prevalent, the number of emergency room visits for asthma attacks increase when the air quality is very poor.

7. Those who are sensitive to pet allergens should not keep pets indoors, ever.

8. Carpets keep allergens embedded within it. Remove carpets especially from the bedroom. Frequent vacuuming will reduce the presence of allergens. If the room has a hard surface floor, it should be damp mopped weekly.

9. Keep household humidity levels at less than 50 percent. This controls dust mites and fungus growth. Mattress covers and pillow case covers provide a barrier between house dust mites and the person with asthma. Down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters should not be used and stuffed animals and clutter should be removed from bedrooms.

10. Doing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation benefit lung function by affecting emotional processes, muscles, and breathing.


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