With the breathing difficulties arising due to environmental pollution, we need to think twice before saying that breathing is a natural process. The Smog in NCR has been tough this year once again. It has forced us to use so much assistance for breathing, and even after all the help from air purifiers, filter masks, indoor plants, activated charcoal and what not, we are still struggling with the morning headaches and sore throats. That is what the average person is feeling, and it is so much worse for the asthmatic patients.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung condition, that can start as early as childhood, can stay for an entire lifetime and can affect anyone at any age. Asthma pertains to narrowing of the airways, by mucus or inflammation, which results in lesser air being passed to and from the lungs.
What causes Asthma
There has been extensive research, but the exact causes of Asthma are still not known. The researchers believe that a combination of both genetic and environmental factors is responsible for a person in developing Asthma, and since genetics plays a very important role, the delicate systems of children get affected with Asthma pretty early in life. However, there are some other reasons too that are responsible for the onset of Asthma.
- Allergic tendencies: Inhaling some specific substances causes the respiratory tract to counter them by swelling and producing mucus following an asthmatic attack. These substances can sometimes be identified by some rigorous blood tests for patterns. Some common irritants are Dust, Smoke, Pollens, and Fungi.
- Respiratory tract infections: Sometimes an infection of the respiratory tract is not cured completely and the inflammation or mucus remains to cause Asthma.
- Prolonged Smoking: Smoking has a lot of adverse effects on the lungs, and asthma is just one of them.
- Hereditary: Sometimes a child is born with Asthma, just because one or both the parents had Asthma
Symptoms of Asthma
The symptoms of Asthma are very clear and precise, however, they may vary in the intensity with which they occur. You should get yourself checked for Asthma if:
- Difficulty in Breathing: If you feel difficulty in inhaling, or a shortness of breath while even doing the slightest of physical activity, there are chances that you could have Asthma, however sometimes just a stuffy nose or sinus can also make you feel the same, so don’t get worried just yet.
- Coughing: If there is a lot of coughing in the mornings, subsides during the noon and then coughing starts again by the evening, there are chances that you might have Asthma, thought it might just be an allergy as there are more allergens present in the morning and evenings that causes the respiratory tract to react.
- Tightness in Chest: If you experience tightening in the chest, and a shortness of breath or coughing along with it, you should get yourself checked for Asthma.
- Recurrent wheezing: A decisive factor to identify whether you have Asthma, checked by doctors with the help of a stethoscope, and along with the presence of other symptoms can help your doctor to identify if you have Asthma.
Asthma is one of those few medical conditions, which are generally suppressed by medication and not cured. A person always has the condition in him, and can experience an episode or flare up anytime in life due to any allergy or pollutants in the air. The common course of treatment of Asthma includes some bronchodilators, antiallergics and some immunosuppressants. These medications are advised in a small dosage for a long run, and in greater doses in case of an asthmatic attack.
In Case of an Asthmatic Attack
If you are diagnosed with asthma, and you have an inhaler pump prescribed, it is extremely important to have it with you at all times, and you should not hesitate to use it whenever you feel difficulty in breathing or tightness in chest. In those special conditions when you do not have your pump with you, these steps will help you control the situation:
- As much as you feel like, do not lie down as lying down will only constrict the air passage further.
- Sit upright and try to breathe slow and deep, as much as possible. Trying to breathe in a haste will only make you lose your energy, and you would want to save it till you get help.
- Try to move away from the place where you felt the attack, as that might help you get away with the trigger which could be anything from dust to cigarette smoke.
- Have a hot drink like a tea or coffee, which helps to open up the airways temporarily, allowing you some time to seek medical help.
How to Prevent Asthma?
As they say, prevention is always better than cure, there are a few simple things that you can follow in your routine to keep your lungs and airways strong and stay away from asthma.
- Healthy Diet: Keep your weight in check, as increased body weight leads to increased load on every organ. Eat food rich in iron, as it is iron, that helps the blood carry oxygen to all the body part and helps them keep strong and well nourished.
- Healing Herbs and Spices: Take advantage of living in the land of Ayurveda, and include herbs like Tulsi, Ashvagandha, Mulethi and anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and cinnamon in your daily diet to prevent your airways from inflammation.
- Yoga and Pranayama: Yoga and Pranayama can not only prevent diseases, they have the power to heal the body and free it from the disease. The breathing exercises mentioned in pranayamas like Kapal-bhaati, Bhastrika and Anulom Vilom are highly effective to open your lungs and make them strong.
- Avoid Smoking: If there is only one thing that you would pick from the list, pick this. By smoking you are deliberately sending smoke to your lungs, depriving them of fresh oxygen. If you wish to prevent yourself from Asthma, quit smoking if you haven’t already. There is no better way of saying that what is written on the pack itself “Smoking is injurious to health”
Even if you have started experiencing these symptoms, it is never too late to start the healing process, especially with a chronic problem like asthma. So get yourself checked and include some breathing exercises to your mornings, stay strong and breathe well.