Causes, prevention and treatment of ASTHMA

MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK - PART IX

Indias contribution to asthma patients and death, what is asthma and why is caused

Asthma, something that all of us might have heard of. Then is it really "more common than you think"? One thing we might not heard of is the treatment for asthma. Also, while we may have heard of it, here are somethings that we might not be aware of. India contributes to over 40% deaths (about 2 lac deaths every year) caused by asthma in the world while the contribution to the number of patients is a shade less than 15%; 34 mn out of the total world patient count of 262 mn. That is what makes it eligible to be a part of our series called "More common than you think".

What is Asthma?

We have often seen people, who suffer from asthma, gasping for breath or use inhalers. In asthma, the airways gets swollen (are inflamed) thereby narrowing the air path making it difficult to breath. In some cases, during an attack, there might be formation of mucus narrowing the pathway further making it further difficult to breath. Lastly, the muscles around the airways can contract or tighten having the same result.

What causes asthma? Who is most likely to get affected?

Even with so much advancement in medical research, the exact causes of asthma are unknown. There are some factors that asthma can be attributed to:

  1. Allergies - certain allergies can lead to the inflammation of the airways thereby causing asthma
  2. Genetics - Asthma can be passed on from the parents to their children. So if there is a history of asthma in the family or atopic conditions, the changes of having asthma are higher
  3. Smoking - tobacco is known to increase the risk of asthma. So smoking, or inhaling the smoke can lead to asthma. The chances are higher in children. Women smoking during pregnancy leaves their unborn child at the risk of asthma. 

Asthma can affect people of all age groups. Sometimes, children can "grow out" of asthma or asthma can resurface at a later point in time. Even adults can "contract" asthma with no history of asthma during their childhood.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Unfortunately the symptoms of asthma are not unique and are common with a lot of other ailments. Hence, it is best to get medical help to understand the true cause of the symptoms. Some of the symptoms include:

  1. Shortness of breath

  2. Chest tightness or pain

  3. Wheezing sound while breathing

  4. Coughing, especially at night

What are the triggers for an asthma attack?

An asthma attack is when the symptoms like breathlessness worsen to an extent that a person finds it difficult even to breathe. The cause of a sudden attack is known as the trigger for the attack. Every person may have a different trigger. Some of the common triggers include:

  1. Smoke and fumes - air pollution is one the leading causes of asthma and a trigger for it

  2. Dust mites - these are small insects that are not even visible but can trigger an attack

  3. Tobacco smoke - whether direct or when you are around someone who is smoking can trigger an attack

  4. Pests - presence of cockroaches, mice and other pests might also lead to an attack

  5. Pets - trigger, in some cases, can be hair or dried skin flakes (dander) of the pets in the house

  6. Strong smells - the smell of paint / turpentine and other chemicals can also trigger an asthma attack

How can one prevent of Asthma? What are the steps to be taken during an attack?

Since the main causes of asthma are unknown, the prevention becomes equally difficult. However certain practices can reduce the risk of asthma attacks. These include:

  1. identify your trigger and avoid it
  2. Avoid smoking and being around people when they smoke
  3. Regularly get your condition checked for any deterioration

Even after practicing all precautions, an attack might be a reality. In case of an attack:

  1. Be on the look out for symptoms like bluish nails or lips, chest pain, difficulty in talking, pale and sweaty face, very quick or rapid breathing
  2. Make sure to have your inhaler handy at all times
  3. Call for medical help immediately
  4. Sit straight and use your inhaler with short puffs for 8-10 times. Repeat again after a break in case the condition doesn't improve.

What is the treatment for asthma? Can asthma be cured?

Modern medicine does not have a cure for asthma. All organisations including the WHO maintain that asthma symptoms can be managed for the patient to lead a fulfilling life but asthma cannot be cured. 

But, there are ayurvedic cures for asthma. The ancient text of herbs, Charak Samhita, has mentioned ingredients that might are potent enough to cure asthma. Also, certain therapies and Panchkarma procedures may aid in leading to the ayurvedic cure for asthma. 

At Chyavan Rishi Ayur Siddha, we have looked at this fatal ailment and offer an FSSAI certified ayurvedic treatment for asthma, Chyavan Shwas. Depending on the severity of the ailment, an apt dosage can be determined to lead an asthma free life. So are you ready to breathe free?

If you would like to read up on the other blogs in this series called 'More common than you think', here are quick links for Urinary Tract Infection, Mental wellness, Tuberculosis, Constipation, Arthritis, Erectile dysfunction, Periodontitis / Pyorrhea, Anaemia, Kidney stones, GERD / Acidity, Bloating