Despite many advances, asthma is still something that is poorly understood
Often thought to be a childhood problem, the truth is that it can be triggered at any age. Statistically, the majority of people who suffer from asthma are adults.
Some people imagine that it’s nothing worse than a bad cold or the flu. For those who have experienced asthma, though, it can be a frightening and very uncomfortable occurrence.
Simply put, asthma is a condition that affects the airways and breathing of the person who has it. It is triggered when the airway comes into contact with something that irritates the lining, causing it to become inflamed and begin to swell. The airways narrow even more due to the eventual build up of mucus.
Such narrowing has a tightening and constrictive affect on the airways, which causes difficulty in breathing — what we know as asthma. The wheezing, shortness of breath and feelings of tightness in the chest so common in asthma can easily fill the person with a sense of real fear, making them feel as if they are being asphyxiated.
Triggers for asthma differ from individual to individual, depending on the person’s particular sensitivities. What might prove irritating for one asthmatic person can be quite inoffensive and harmless for another. An important element in asthma control is learning about your individual triggers and then avoiding them as much as possible.
Sometimes the asthma trigger may be obvious – pet dander, cat or dog hair, for example – After exposure to such things, the asthma symptoms will soon follow. But often the trigger may not be at all obvious, only producing symptoms much later, in what is know as a delayed reaction.
The very first thing to do when experiencing any kind of difficulty with breathing is to consult a medical doctor. Today, with effective treatment, the asthmatic person can expect a normal, active and full life. Following a diagnosis of asthma, an inhaler or nebulizer is often prescribed which can be used in order to calm inflammation and lessen the severity of the reaction to the trigger. Sometimes preventer medication and or steroids are advised in order to deal with acute symptoms.
Studies have shown that physical activity plays and important part in asthma prevention, but it is believed that fully 80% of asthma sufferers do not get sufficient exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight, combined with physical exercise helps to improve lung function, easing breathing.
The symptoms of asthma can be greatly controlled by eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, which includes a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Additionally, certain foods have been shown to protect agains asthma and help with the functioning of the lungs.
Research has shown that eating foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, kiwis and citrus fruit may have a significant, protective effect on asthma’s respiratory symptoms.
In one Italian study that followed more than 18,000 children researches found that those eating the most vitamin C-containing fruit had 44% fewer incidents of wheezing and respiratory symptoms than children consuming less such fruit. Further, breath shortness was lessened by 32%, and chronic cough by 25%.
The study concluded that those who benefitted the most were the children who had already been diagnosed with asthma when the study began. Even amongst those children who ate fruit only once or twice a week fruit’s protective effects were evident.
Dutch research has confirmed these findings, demonstrating that people who ate the most fruit and vegetables had the healthiest lung function.
Foods that contain vitamin E and C are believed to help reduce the inflammatory response in the lungs of people who experience asthma.
Managing stress levels can also be critical in preventing asthma attacks. Here, learning relaxation techniques and de-stressing your life can greatly help. A really effective way of letting go of stress is by listening to therapeutic self-hypnosis recordings specifically designed for the purpose.
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, then be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, become aware of your triggers, and combine this with regular exercise, healthy eating and stress management, and you will lead an active, healthy and normal life.
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided for general information purposes only and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.