Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It is usually connected to allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.
TYPES OF ASTHMA :
Bronchial Asthma is classified into :
I. Atopic or Extrinsic Asthma (Early onset Asthma)
* Usually begins in childhood
* It generally occurs in atopic (hereditary predisposition toward developing certain hypersensitivity reactions) individuals i.e.individuals who are prone to allergy like cold, sneezing, skin rashes.
* External factors (like smoke, dust, pollen) are responsible for causing the asthmatic attacks. Hence also called as extrinsic asthma.
III. Occupational asthma
Certain occupations can be harmful for people with an allergic background for e.g. bakers, farmers, and poultry-men are exposed to large amounts of fungus. Farmers and gardeners are exposed to pollens, mattress renovators to house dust, beauticians and barbers to dyes and animal dander (skin scales or fur of animals).
Main Symptoms Of Asthma :
The most common symptoms of both extrinsic and intrinsic asthmas are the following:
* Shortness of breath
* Rapid breathing
* Chest tightness
Causes or Triggers Asthma :
People with asthma have inflamed airways which are sensitive to things which may not bother other people. These things are “triggers.”
Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Some people react to only a few while others react to many.
If you have asthma, it is important to keep track of the causes or triggers that you know provoke your asthma. Because the symptoms do not always occur right after exposure, this may take a bit of detective work. Delayed asthma episodes may occur depending on the type of trigger and how sensitive a person is to it.
The most common asthma triggers include :
Allergies (Allergic Asthma)-
Substances that cause allergies (allergens) can trigger asthma. If you inhale something you are allergic to, you may experience asthma symptoms. It is best to avoid or limit contact with known allergens to decrease or prevent asthma episodes. Common allergens that cause allergic asthma include:
* Dust mites
* Pet dander
Irritants in the Air-
Irritants in the environment can also bring on an asthma episode. Although people are not allergic to these items, they can bother inflamed, sensitive airways:
* Smoke from cigarettes
* Air pollution such as smog, ozone and others
* Wood fires
* Charcoal grills
* Strong fumes, vapors or odors (such as paint, gasoline, perfumes and scented soaps)
* Dust and particles in the air
* Flu (influenza)
* Sore throats
* Sinus infections
* Respiratory infections are the most common asthma trigger in children.
Exercise and other activities that make you breathe harder can affect your asthma. Exercise – especially in cold air – is a frequent asthma trigger. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is a form of asthma that is triggered by physical activity. It is also known as exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Symptoms may not appear until after several minutes of sustained exercise. (If symptoms appear sooner than this, it usually means you need to adjust your treatment.) With proper treatment, you do not need to limit your physical activity.
Dry wind, cold air or sudden changes in weather can sometimes bring on an asthma episode.
Feeling and Expressing Strong Emotions-
When you feel strong emotions, your breathing changes – even if you don’t have asthma. It may cause wheezing or other asthma symptoms in someone with asthma.
Some medicines can also trigger asthma:
* If you are sensitive to aspirin and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
* If you take medicines known as beta blockers – they can also make asthma harder to control
Other Asthma Triggers-
Other triggers to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider are:
* Sulfites in food
* Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle
* Other medical problems like reflux (GERD)
Talk to your health care provider about your asthma and your triggers. Be sure to discuss any changes in your asthma management.
Ayurvedic view :
A detailed description and differential diagnosis of a group of disorders involving respiratory distress (dyspnea) is given in all three of the major Ayurvedic compendiums. These diseases are collectively known as Svasa Roga, of which five varieties are described. These include: maha svasa, urdhva svasa, chinna svasa, ksudra svasa, and tamaka svasa. The last variety, tamaka svasa, corresponds to chronic persistent bronchial asthma of allopathic medicine. In Ayurveda, it is considered the only type of respiratory distress which can be controlled, and then only with diligence on the part of the patient and physician. In striking similarity to the modern allopathic description, tamaka svasa is defined in Ayurveda as a chronic and recurring condition characterized by dyspnea, cough, airflow obstruction, and wheezing. Although the concept of atopy and hyperreactivity were unknown, Ayurveda was clear on its understanding of this condition as multifactorial, including environmental and emotional factors.
Pathogenesis according to Ayurveda :
Ayurvedic texts, asthma is known as tamaka svasa, one of the kaphaja diseases in the category of svasa or dyspnoea (shortness of breath).
Initially in the samprapti (pathogenesis) of asthma, vata is provoked with urdva gati (upward vector). Entering prana vaha srota, the respiratory tree, it aggravates kapha in the bronchial mucus membranes.
The purva rupa or premonitory signs outlined in the texts include headache, cough, chest pain, mood swings, running nose and thirst."Vata, getting aggravated, begin to move in the respiratory channels, aggravating kapha and producing breathlessness with catching pain in the head, neck, chest and flanks, cough accompanied with cracking sound, delusion, loss of appetite, running in the nose and thirst."
The disease process, moving through astayi rasa dhatu, can swiftly proceed to rupa, cardinal signs and symptoms of a full blown asthma attack: cough, wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, rapid breathing and orthopnoea (difficulty breathing when lying down).
Treatment accordind to Ayurveda :
While an individual's constitutional type must always be kept in mind when developing a treatment plan for any disease, asthma is nevertheless generally treated by pacifying Vata and Kapha doshas. The treatment will always include two main strategies:
a) purification therapies (panchakarma) to eliminate the vitiated doshas.
b) herbal therapies to help re-establish normal physiological function in the affected tissues and organs.
However asthma is highly variable in its course and clinicians need to tailor their treatment plans to the needs of each individual patient. The general Ayurvedic principle is to initially gain control of the disease as quickly possible with strong Vata and Kapha purification measures which are then followed with appropriate herbal therapies.
Ayurvedic Herbs and Herbal formulations used are :
Diet and other Regimen :* Foods which are easy to digest should be preferred. Maximum amount of green leafy vegetables should be included in the diet.