Noting is more natural than breathing – unless you have asthma, in which case every breath can seem precious.
Doctors estimate that upto 30 per cent of the children and anywhere between 10 to 20 per cent of adults have asthma. Doctors still aren’t sure what causes asthma, although the symptoms – coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest – are all too familiar. Asthma causes tiny airways in the lungs to be swollen and inflamed. also causes the body to make more mucus, making breathing even harder.
One of the most frightening things about asthma is how suddenly it can appear. Exposure to pollen or other allergens, vigorous exercise, or even taking a breath of cold air can trigger an attack. So can a bout with the flu or even a common cold. Asthma attacks can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. In severe cases, people need to go to the hospital because they simply can’t breathe.
There are many things you can do at home to relieve your symptoms a bit.
Brew some parsley (prajmoda) tea. Parsley is a natural expectorant that can help clear mucus from the airways. When you are having an attack, sipping a cup of parsley tea will help you breathe more easily. To make the tea, steep a few sprigs of dried parsley in a cup of boiling water. As an additional benefit, steam from the tea will help loosen mucus and will provide quick relief.
Pour a cup of coffee . Doctors often urge people to drink less coffee. But if you have asthma, a cup of coffee may be just the thing. The caffeine in coffee is chemically related to a commonly used asthma drug. Having a cup or two of coffee when you feel an attack coming on will quickly cause airways to relax, making it easier to breathe.
Take some licorice (mulethi). In Asian countries, people traditionally have used the herb form of licorice to help treat asthma. Some experts believe licorice has a mild anesthetizing effect that can ease the coughs that often accompany asthma attacks. You can buy licorice supplements in tablet form at health food stores. Licorice candy isn’t the same, however, because it contains only trace amounts of the healthful elements. (If you have high blood pressure, don’t take licorice, because it may make your condition worse).
Clear the air. To keep your lungs in good working order, make sure everything you do is lung-friendly. For starters, don’t allow people to smoke in the house. It’s also helpful to cover your mattresses with dust covers to cut back on skin dander – tiny flakes of skin that can trigger allergies along with asthma attacks. Your doctor may also recommend that you buy a portable air filter that will help remove the irritating particles from the air before they get into your lungs.
Unfortunately, doctors have found that there are more than 2,000 substances that can trigger asthma attacks – and that’s only inside your house. Outside there may be thousands more. You need to do everything you can to keep the air you breathe clean. At the very last, it’s a good idea to keep your windows closed and to use central air conditioning during the warm months. This will help trap airborne particles before they reach your lungs.
Read labels carefully . Some people with asthma find that aspirin, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter pain medications can bring on severe attacks. In addition, food containing sulfites, such as preserved meats, may trigger asthma attacks in some people.
Take care of your tummy . Doctors have found that heartburn may play a role in causing asthma attacks. Heartburn occurs when irritating stomach acids back up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) and throat. The resulting irritation may trigger a breathing problem. To prevent heartburn, it’s best not to eat big meals late at night. Instead, eat smaller meals throughout the day, and eat a small dinner early in the evening. Some people also prop themselves up with pillows, which can help keep stomach acids where they belong.
Keep under wraps . Cold, dry air makes breathing difficult for everyone, especially people with asthma. In the winter, it is a good idea to wear a scarf around your nose and mouth when venturing outdoors. This will warm and humidify the incoming air, which will help keep your airways calm. In addition, you may want to use a humidifier indoors to moisten the air.
Pay attention to your hormonal cycles . Research suggests asthma might be influenced by the levels of various hormones in your body, particularly estrogen levels in women. May women with asthma tend to have attacks just before or during the menstrual periods. If you notice that your breathing problems correspond with your monthly cycle, call a doctor. He or she may recommend medications to help keep your hormone levels more stable throughout the month.
Learn to relax. Several studies suggest that stress may play a role in bringing on asthma attacks. Doctors often recommend that people with asthma do their best to relax more often. This can be ass impel as giving yourself time every day to do something you enjoy, or as intricate as taking up t’ai chi or meditation. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as it helps keep you calm and relaxed. Don’t think of rest and relaxation as luxuries. For people with asthma, regular rest is as important as taking proper medications.
Start an asthma file . One of the worst things about asthma is that it’s unpredictable. It can be hard to pinpoint what’s most likely to cause an attack, and what will calm it down. To figure out your asthma ‘triggers,’ start keeping an asthma file. Whenever you have an attack, write down what you were doing when it occurred. Was it hot or cold outside? Were you active or sitting still? Excited or depressed? What did you have to eat that day? The more information you can accumulate, the easier it will be to figure out what’s contributing to you problems – and what you need to do to stop them.