What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disorder in which there is inflammation of the bronchial tubes with prominent eosinophil infiltration causing variable airflow obstruction. It affects the airway that carries air to and from our lungs. Swelling and inflammation makes the airway extremely sensitive to irritation and increases susceptibility to an allergic reaction. As inflammation causes the airway to become narrower, less air can pass through them both to and from lungs. The condition is clinically characterized by variable cough, chest tightness and wheeze.
Physiologically asthma is a complex cascade of conditions and interactions that lead to acute airflow obstruction, increased mucus production, bronchial hyper responsiveness, and airway inflammation. Each of these interactions and their manifestations can be slightly different depending on the individual and can even vary in severity in the same individual due to their internal physiological environment and external factors. It is these physiologic interactions that result in the wheezing and breathing difficulties that the individual experiences and we call asthma.
“The clinical characteristics of asthma are defined as the occurrence of symptoms and the presence of airway obstruction, inflammation, and hyper responsiveness”.
(Margaret A. Clark; Asthma: A clinician’s Guide 2010; 15-16)
Symptoms of Asthma
Difficult breathing (dyspnoea) which produces shortness of breath, with or without tightness in the chest (a feeling of pressure on the chest), is caused by the narrowing of the bronchi and bronchioles. In young children who are unable to express what they feel, parents may sometimes notice fast breathing and “retractions” (the chest being sucked in as the child inhales).
Whistling sounds, or wheezing, may occur because of the decreased size of the bronchi.
Coughing can be severe. In some asthmatic patients, it is the main and sometimes the only symptom. Typically, the coughing occurs mostly at night or early in the morning.
Finally, asthma is often accompanied by bronchial secretions (coughing up mucus and phlegm)
Asthmatic patient do not all experience symptoms in the same way or to the same degree. If asthma is well managed, symptoms can be minimized or eliminated. In severe asthma or when asthma is inadequately treated, symptoms can be continuous.
Symptoms of asthma can be summarized as:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Rapid pulse
- Shallow breathing
- Feeling of suffocation
- Cold extremities
- Short inspiration
- Prolonged expiration
What can precipitate an asthma attack?
Finding its causal agent is the single most important step you can take toward controlling your asthma. Unless and until you know exactly what brings on your wheezes, you will have trouble treating them and you will always be troubled with them. A multitude of substance or bodily conditions precipitate asthma attacks. The most important once are:
- Cold or upper respiratory infections, especially in children
- Allergens (dusts, pollens, molds, animal dander, and so on)
- Foods, especially food additives
- Vigorous exercise
- Hyperventilation (fast, shallow breathing often associated with emotional or stressful experience)
- Certain drugs or medication, especially aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Advil and Nuprin)
- Air pollutants, including tobacco smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, and the by-products of automotive of industrial combustion like carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and particular matter.
(M. Eric Gershwin, Ed L. Klingelhofer; Asthma: Stop Suffering, Start Living 2001; 66)
Diagnosis of Asthma
Along with medical history and physical examination, diagnosis mainly includes pulmonary function test, chest radiograph, full blood count, skin test, provocation or challenge test, IgE and IgE specific test.
Homeopathy Treatment for Asthma
Homeopathic treatment of asthma – Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which a patient is suffering.
The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat asthma symptoms but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility of the patient, in an effort to cure asthma. The aim is to cure the patient and not just palliate the symptoms of asthma. For this, patient’s current symptoms, past medical history and family history are taken into account. There are many homeopathic remedies which cover the symptoms of asthma and can be selected on the basis of cause, location, sensation, modalities and extension of the symptoms. For individualized remedy selection and treatment of asthma, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important remedies are given below for the treatment of asthma:
Homeopathic Remedies for asthma
Aconite, Kali Carb, Thuja, Natrum Sulph, Belladonna, Ipecac, Aspidosperma, Blatta O, Kali Bi, Kali Phos, Sulphur, Lycopodium, Lachesis, Arsenic Album, Bryonia, Antim Tart, Medorrhinum and many other medicines.
Aconite – excellent remedy during acute attacks of asthma, which will ease the breathing and cough. Symptoms of dysnoea are often accompanied by marked anxiety, fear and restlessness.
Arsenic alb – Asthma with great anxiety and restlessness, often worse around midnight and lying down, better by sitting up and warm drinks.
Antimonium tart - is a good asthma remedy for children and the elderly especially useful when the asthma has been caused by an infection. The cough will have coarse rattling in the chest on both inspiration and expiration. The patient will be worse lying down and at night generally. They may be irritable and want to be left alone.
Ipecac -Asthma patients who suffer from coughing spasms resulting in vomiting or retching. It’s also greatest for asthma that comes with mucus or phlegm within the breathing tubes.
Carbo veg - Severe acute attacks of wheezing with significant belching and flatus. Patient feels very weak and may collapse.
Kali carb – this remedy often indicated in asthma, especially when the attack comes at night, after midnight, from 2 to 4 am.
Belladonna – this remedy works when there are violent spasms of asthmatic breathing attended by constriction of chest. Redness of face during acute bout of cough.
Aspidosperma – an effective remedy in asthma with difficult respiration. It is often used as palliative.
Blatta orientalis -remedy for asthma with or without bronchitis. It is often used as palliative.
Lycopodium – asthma due to excitement by anger or emotion with fanlike motion of ala nasi.
Pulsatilla - Cough with green discharge. The patient must sit up during the asthma crisis and is better for fresh air. Even fanning may help them feel better.
Sulphur – this asthma remedy acts well when asthma is due to suppression of eruptions.
Natrum Sulph – attacks during wet weather or in rainy season. This asthma remedy acts well when the patient gets attacks every change of season.