Asthma is a respiratory disorder in which the air passages narrow down, leading to the production of mucus and swelling of the tubes resulting in breathing difficulty. This condition is characterized by difficulty in breathing, cough and wheezing. This condition can interfere with your physical activities and hinder your work efficiency, depending upon the severity of the disease.
Usually, the air we breathe goes down into the lungs through a network of muscular tubes that help in the exchange of gases at their end. During this exchange of gases, oxygen is taken inside our body and carbon dioxide is thrown out. However, during the asthmatic attack, these muscular tubes get constricted which narrows downs the air passage. Further, it produces mucus which makes the gas exchange surface lesser. This leads to a condition of tightness in the chest and a gasp for air which results in shortness of breath.
TYPES OF ASTHMA
Based on its causation or triggering factors, it can be divided into two types:
Extrinsic asthma (Allergic asthma):
In this type, asthma is triggered after exposure to some allergen for which the person is susceptible. For example- pollen, dust, some particular food, pet dander, etc. This type can show seasonal variation in its onset.
Intrinsic asthma (Non-allergic asthma):
In this type, the attack is not triggered because of some irritants present in the air. This results from some exaggerated response to a stimulus, which is normal for other people. For example, after viral disease, from exposure to cold air, cigarette smoke, air pollution, cleaning products etc.
According to age of onset, it can be of two types: Childhood asthma and Adult-onset asthma (onset after the age of 20 years)
Other common types of asthma are described below:
In this type, the trigger factors are derived from the products of the workplace. For example- dyes, gases and some, chemicals used, rubber, plastic, etc.
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB):
In this type, the attack arises within a few minutes after starting an exercise
And remains till 10-15 after exercise. About 90 percent of people who have asthma, also deal with EIB, but not every person who experience EIB develop other types of asthma.
Cough-variant asthma (CVA):
This type of asthma does not present itself with the typical symptoms of asthma which includes wheezing and difficulty breathing. Instead, it is characterized by a persistent dry cough. However, this can lead to fully developed asthmatic attacks which give the typical presentation of asthma including shortness of breath and wheezing sounds from the chest.
Symptoms of asthma vary from one person to another. While some may have the symptoms throughout the year, others may get an attack only at a certain period, for example, during exercise, from exposure to cold, after exposure to some allergen, etc. Signs and symptoms of asthma are listed below:
Shortness of breath
- Constricted feeling and pain in the chest
- Difficulty in sleeping due to breathing difficulty
- Wheezing or whistling sound during breathing
- These attacks might be accompanied by cough and coryza which make the situation worse for the patient.
There is no particular cause and reason for asthma. It is assumed that this is a result of the combination of genetic factors with environmental factors. Some trigger factors which can set in an attack identified and some of those common triggers (which vary from person to person) are listed below:
- Exposure to cold air
- Airborne allergens, for example, pollen grains, mold spores, mites, dust, pet dander, etc.
- Physical exertion such as exercise
- Smoke and chemical irritants from factories
- Upper respiratory tract infection, e.g., coryza
- Certain foods and beverages for which a person is allergic. For example, shrimp, almonds, wine, etc.
There are some risk factors, which, if present, make you more prone to develop asthma. These are listed below:
- Genetic: Person having a family history of asthma, especially in siblings and parents.
- Smokers: Both active and passive smokers.
- People suffering from other allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis.
- Living in a highly polluted area.
- Occupational exposure to allergens such as working in coal mines, farmers, etc.
Treatment for asthma includes identifying and avoiding the responsible allergen to prevent its acute flare-up. Mild and moderate cases can be managed with medications but during severe attacks, immediate hospitalizations required. Bronchodilators and other steroids are given in the allopathic system of medicine for acute attacks as well as for long term use. But the action of these medicines is not curative and leaves side-effects especially after their long-term use. Homeopathy claims to cure it permanently. There are many homeopathic medicines for asthma. Selection of medicines depends upon the similarity of the symptoms given by the patient with the medicine to be prescribed and this selection is based upon the fundamental laws of Homeopathy. Common homeopathic medicines with their indications are given below. These should be taken after consultation with a registered homeopathic practitioner:
ARSENICUM ALBUM: For asthmatic attacks which gets worse after midnight. Person is unable to lie down due to fear of suffocation. Indicated for people who have fear of death accompanied with other common asthma symptoms.
ASPIDOSPERMA QUEBRACHO: Especially indicated for asthmatic attacks which gets worse during exertion. This drug stimulates the respiratory centers which leads to increase in oxidation of blood and excreted out carbonic acid.
BLATTA ORIENTALIS: Indicated especially when asthma is associated with bronchitis. When there is expectoration of pus-like mucus.
BROMIUM: For painful and challenging breathing with violent and cramping pain in chest. Cold sensation in chest on inspiration of air. Cough is provoked on inspiration of air.
KALIUM CARBONICUM: Indicated for cutting pain like sensation in chest which gets worse from lying on right side. Wheezing sounds and dry, hard cough especially at 3 a.m. Sensation of goodness in chest.
MEPHITIS: When breathing is difficult and it seems as if inhaling Sulphur, this medicine is indicated. Deep and hollow cough from talking which accompanies rawness, hoarseness and pain through the chest.
NATRIUM SULPHURICUM: Especially for asthma during rainy and damp weather. Has to hold chest while coughing. Rattling in chest between 4 and 5 a.m. Person feels a constant desire to take deep and long breath which he is unable to. One of the best medicines for childhood asthma.
STANNUM METALLICUM: For short and oppressive breathing when stitching pains in chest are there, especially on left side when breathing and lying on left side. This can be accompanied with violent and dry cough in evening. Cough is provoked from laughing, singing and talking, which gets worse from lying on right side.