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Asthma

When an irritant or allergic substance like smoke, dry air, pollen, cold air, mould or dust mites meets a pair of sensitive lungs, it leads to an attack of asthma. Other reasons like hormonal fluctuations, stress and anger too can cause an asthma attack. Difficulty in breathing occurs because the bronchioles or air passages in the lungs go into spasms, which can cause coughing and tightness of chest. These spasms release chemicals like histamine that cause inflammation and production on mucus, eventually clogging the airways.

Doctors often prescribe a preventer inhaler. If so, you should continue to use it, as it may reduce the risk and frequency of having an asthma attack.

Home Remedies
Asthma is a disease which cannot be cured. However, the frequency of the attacks can be reduced by practising the following home remedies given below:

  • First and foremost, try to ease the breathing during an asthma attack. Panic can only make the situation worse, so stay calm.
  • Try to work out the visualisation trick. Close your eyes and inhale. See your lungs expand and fill with white light and feel your breathing become easier. Repeat this exercise twice or till the time your feel better. Then open your eyes.
  • During an emergency, drink a cup of strong coffee, cola or Red Bull – all of which are high in caffeine. Caffeine helps to open the airways as it is chemically related to theophylline, a medication for asthma.
  • Various health supplements too help to combat the constriction. Ginkgo is a herb widely used as a traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma. Try taking supplements that contain standardised extract of ginkgo flavones.
  • According to a research, magnesium relaxes the airways and reduces cardiovascular risk. The dose is 270 mg per day for women and 300 mg for men.
  • Omega – 3 fatty acids, usually found in fish such as tuna, salmon and trout work much like a class of asthma drugs called leukotriene inhibitors. These drugs stop the actions of body compounds that cause inflammation in the airways.
  • Take 1000mg of evening primrose oil thrice a day. It is rich in an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid., which is converted by the body into anti-inflammatory substance.
  • Bioflavonoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their bright colours. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties that may provide relief from frequent attacks of asthma. Quercentin is one of the best-known bioflavonoids and inhibits the release of histamine. Take 500mg of quercetin thrice a day, 20 minutes before meals.
  • Turmeric, a common Indian spice is yet another powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Mix 1 tea-spoon of turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk and drink it three times a day to prevent the severe consequences of asthma.
  • If you are suffering from the symptoms of asthma, maintain a note of everything you eat, at least for a month. Although rare, there are chances of food allergies connected to your asthma attacks. Check your record against the symptoms to see if anything you eat increases the frequency or severity of your attacks.
  • Not for nothing people say that prevention is better than cure. To reduce problems of asthma attacks, quit smoking if you do, and stay away from people who do, as passive smoking too aggravates the problem. Tobacco smoke irritates the airways.
  • Don’t roam around a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • In winters, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to help warm up chilly air before you inhale it.
  • Keep the window of the kitchen open when you are cooking especially food with onions and garlic. Highly scented foods or strongly perfumed sample strips too trigger asthma attacks. So, try to avoid them all.
  • Try eating smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid eating just before your go to bed. The upward migration of stomach acids can cause heartburn or acidity, eventually causing asthma attacks.
  • About 5% of people with asthma are allergic to anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers or pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin and it can lead to asthma attack. Instead, you can try taking aspirin-free pain reliever like paracetamol.
  • Simple deep breathing exercises too can help to reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
  • Lie on your back on the carpet and place a book on your stomach. Inhale gently and deeply. Don’t expand your chest. Instead, expand your stomach/ abdomen. Keep an eye on your book. It would rise if you are breathing the right way. Just when you think you have reached the full capacity, take in a little more air. See if you can raise the books a little higher. Exhale gradually and slowly counting till five. The more you exhale, the more you will relax. Repeat at least five times for best results.

When you experience an asthma attack for the first time, you should not delay seeing your doctor. The common symptoms of asthma are gasping for breath, development of a bluish cast on your face or lips, difficulty in breathing or becoming confused or exhausted. If you are already taking treatment, consult your doctor at regular intervals and take medications as prescribed.

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