Asthma is a grave chronic medical condition of the lungs. Physiological it is an inflammatory disease manifested by a far-flung narrowing of the air passage and clinically by paroxysms of dyspnea, wheezing, and cough. It is an episodic disease with a symptom-free period integrated with an acute exacerbation. Some attacks are mild and short-lived lasting for a few minutes to hours. Sometimes the episodes are severe in intensity. The patient may experience severe episodes of status asthmaticus with serious obstruction dogging for days or weeks. A severe attack can make it hard to talk or affect normal activity.
Normally, the air you breath travels the air passage through the nose to the throat and reaches down the lungs. In asthma, the airways are inflamed and swollen. It is difficult for the air to move in and out of the lungs causing respiratory symptoms, airway hyperresponsiveness, airflow limitation.
Asthma is classified according to the severity of symptoms:
1.Mild intermittent asthma
2.Mild persistent asthma
3.Moderate persistent asthma
4.Severe persistent asthma
Types of Asthma
- Adult-onset asthma. Asthma that affects the age group of 40 or above is adult-onset asthma. Asthma can affect any time in life. Although it’s unclear what are causes a family history of asthma, allergies, or eczema, respiratory diseases, smoke and mold can be the triggering factors.
- Status asthmaticus. These are a medical emergency. The attacks are prolonged and don’t respond to treatment with bronchodilators. Theses episodes require immediate attention.
- Asthma in children. Even in the same child the symptoms of asthma sometimes vary from episode to episode. The symptoms may appear like frequent and sudden bouts of cough, shortness of breath, loss of breath, rapid breathing or shallow breathing, tiredness or less energy while playing, or pausing to catch breath during play, chest tightness or pain in chest, tightness in neck and chest muscles, wheezing and whistling during breathing, and chest retractions during breathing.
- Allergic asthma. Allergens, like dust, pollen and pet hair, can trigger asthmatic attacks.
- Nonallergic asthma. Asthma attacks during extreme weather conditions, during the heat of summer or the cold of winter. The attacks may flare up during stress events or a cold- flu attack.
- Exercise-induced asthma. The broncho-constriction happens during physical activity due to the air inhaled through the narrow airways is drier than the air in the body. Bronchoconstriction can also affect the people who don’t have asthma. The symptoms appear within a few minutes after the start of exercise and last for 10 to 15 minutes after cessation of the exercise.
- Occupational asthma. It affects the people who work around dust factories, chemical fumes, smoke or other irritating things in the air.
- Eosinophilic asthma. It is a severe type of asthma affecting adults between 35 and 50. It is a chronic form of asthma. There is a markedly high level of white blood cells called eosinophils.
- Nocturnal asthma. The attacks of asthma symptoms get worse at night or while you are sleeping.
- Aspirin-induced asthma. The asthma symptoms worsened after intake of aspirin, along with symptoms like watery discharge from the nose, sneezing, pressure in sinuses, and a cough.
- Cough-variant asthma. There is only one symptom present in this kind of asthma, a chronic cough.
Symptoms of Asthma:
The symptoms of asthma vary in every individual. The attacks are infrequent with symptoms only at certain times of the day — during quick walking, workout, ascending stairs — or all the time.
Following are the signs and symptoms of asthma:
- Pain and tightness in the chest
- Sleep troubles due to dyspnea, cough or wheezing
- A whistling or wheezing sound during breathing
- Attacks of cough or wheezing worsened by a simple cold or the flu
Causes of Asthma
- Genetic predisposition, some people are born with the inherited tendency to have asthma
- History of previous infections like eczema, hay fever
- Viral respiratory illness like simple flu or pneumonia
- Early exposure to an allergen, dust mites, pollen, animal dander Breathing polluted the air
- Irritants like strong odors, smoke, tobacco or wood smoke, dust, and chemical fumes
- Emotions like laughing, crying and shouting
- Extremes of weather
- The doctor will take a complete medical history and perform some tests to settle the diagnosis of asthma.
- Spirometry: A simple breathing test to check how much air you blow out and the rate at which the air is blown out
- Chest x-ray is performed to rule out the other causes for the symptoms.
- CT scan gives a cross-sectional view of the insides of the body to identify any structural pathology.
- Other tests might include the Allergy test, Sputum eosinophils, Peak flow, Methacholine challenge, Exhaled nitric oxide test.
Conventional and homeopathic treatment:
Bronchodilator inhaler offers good control over the acute severe attacks of asthma, bronchodilators such as Proventil, Ventolin (Salbutamol /albuterol), Bricanyl (Terbutaline)and Xopenex (levalbuterol) to relax the muscles of the airways and increase the airflow. There are also steroid inhalers used to decrease the inflammation of airways. Steroid inhalers such as Pulmicort (budesonide), Becotide (Beclomethasone) and Flovent (fluticasone). The airways are like the tunnels which narrow down due to inflammation. These drugs help to reduce inflammation and widen up the airways to maintain the airflow. However, long term use of these drugs and steroids might have side effects which can be mild to severe potential problems if large doses are used.
When to seek emergency help?
- Extreme breathlessness
- Tightness in your chest
- Blue or gray discoloration of fingernails and lips
- Exhaustion after minimal activity
- Inability to control the acute attack with inhalers.
Homeopathic treatment for asthma:
Asthma is a grave medical condition. An intense asthma attack can be a life-threatening emergency. Therefore, the use of homeopathic treatment can be considered alongside conventional medicines after a thorough review of presenting symptoms in the patient. In time, a reduction in inhaler use can be practiced with the control of the symptoms of the disease. In the homeopathic mode of treatment, the goal is to treat asthma with a minimal dose. This dose is chosen based on symptoms similarity of the drug to that of the patient having asthma. The medicine acts by triggering the body’s defenses to reduce the inflammatory processes and control the attacks.
Schwabe India’s Biocombination No.2 effectively reduces respiratory muscle spasms and breathlessness. It is indicated in symptoms like tightness in chest accompanied by pain and wheezing, difficulty in lying down. It is a useful and safe ancillary treatment for asthmatic patients using conventional treatment. It has no side effects. The dose can be set by the doctor according to the severity of asthma. Asthma is a serious condition for which professional help is recommended self-treatment with any homeopathic medicine should be avoided. Some of the homeopathic medicines for asthma include Aralia racemosa MT, Blatta orientalisMT, Swertia chirata MT, Justica Athatoda MT, etc. Other homeopathic remedies for asthma :
- Antimonium Tartaricum : It is best indicated in asthma with a rattling cough . The chest is full of loose mucous, with a little or no expectoration of mucous.
- Arsenic album: The indicative of use this remedy are dyspnoeic cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath, the symptoms gets worse around midnight.
- Blatta Oriantalis: The symptoms of asthma appear during exposure to damp environment.
- Dulcamara: The cough of dulcamara is loose, rattling and asthmatic which is aggravated in damp weather. It takes a loads of time to expel the mucus.
- Eucalyptus globulus: It is indicated for mucus congestion in chest with asthma.
- Grindelia: Children suffering from asthma with much wheezing and oppression. Must sit up, cannot breathe when lying.
- Kali carbonica: The symptoms of asthma appears during 3 to 5 am. Character of cough is dry hard with pain in the chest. The expectoration is minimal, tenacious and very offensive .
- Kali bichromium: Attacks of bronchial asthma occur in after 3 to 4 am in a winter night. The patient feels better from sitting up and bending forward. The expectoration is a stringy mucus making the patient to get up.
- Lobelia inflata: Asthma without expectoration and cough. Any slight exertion makes the symptoms worse.