Keep asthma at bay

Keep asthma at bay

WINTER WOES

Keep asthma at bay

TAKE IT EASY Inhalers only provide temporary relief and don’t stop the recurrence of attacks of dyspnea.

Cities such as Bangalore and New Delhi are currently experiencing winter and it is that time of the year when asthmatic patients scurry around for protection. Wheezing and allergies due to the frequently changing weather are a common phenomenon. One may not think of winter as a season for allergic asthma, but it depends on what one’s allergy and asthma triggers are. There are definitely certain allergens, as well as irritants, that are more likely to present problems during the winter months, when colder weather forces, we tend to stay cooped-up indoors for more hours each day. And before you know it, you’re sneezing, wheezing and coughing once again.

Common winter allergy and asthma symptoms can include:

- Sneezing
- Nasal stuffiness
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery, burning eyes
- Itchy mouth or throat
- Wheezing
- Coughing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tight feeling in the chest

Kids with allergic asthma may also have what is known as the allergic salute, where they rub their noses upward because of itching and have allergic shiners, which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion. These are some typical symptoms of a winter allergy.

Causes

Asthma is caused by environmental and genetic factors, which can influence how severe asthma is and how well it responds to medication. The upper airway recognises these perceived dangers and protects the more vulnerable lungs by shutting down the airway.  Some environmental and genetic factors have been confirmed through research.

Asthma can affect people of all ages and both sexes but it is more common in children in their early teens. This is because of high susceptibility and lowered resistance levels in children. It can be triggered by various substances in the inhaled air or ingested food or even some kind of medications.  Allergens such as dust, moulds, animal hair, pollen grains are the commonly found allergens.

Exposure to tobacco or wood smoke, breathing polluted air, inhaling other respiratory irritants such as perfumes or cleaning products, exposure to airway irritants at the workplace, breathing in allergy-causing substances such as moulds, dust, or animal dander may precipitate an attack of asthma.

Sometimes asthma may be triggered by an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, flu, sinusitis, or bronchitis, exposure to cold, dry weather, emotional excitement or stress, physical exertion or exercise. Asthma can also be related with a stomach upset — reflux of stomach acid known as gastroesophageal reflux disease. In some women, asthma symptoms are closely tied to the menstrual cycle. In many cases, a genetic predisposition can be observed, where either a parent, or sibling suffers from asthma.

Although asthma is a chronic obstructive condition, it is not considered a part of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as this term refers specifically to combinations of bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Unlike these diseases, the airway obstruction in asthma is usually reversible. However, if left untreated, it can result in chronic inflammation of the lungs and irreversible obstruction. In contrast to emphysema, asthma affects the bronchi, not the alveoli of the lung.

Symptoms

Some people with asthma rarely experience symptoms, usually in response to triggers, where as other severe cases may have marked airflow obstruction at all times. Asthma exists in two states:

- Steady-state of chronic asthma
- Acute state of an acute asthma exacerbation.

The symptoms are different depending on what state the patient is in.
Common symptoms of asthma in a steady-state include night time coughing, shortness of breath with exertion but no dyspnea at rest, a chronic urge for ‘throat-clearing’ cough, and complains of a tightness in the chest. Severity often correlates to an increase in symptoms.

Symptoms can worsen gradually and rather insidiously, up to the point of an acute exacerbation of asthma. It is a common misconception that people with asthma wheeze. The truth is that not all patients experience wheezing and their condition may be confused with another chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  — emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

Medicines such as inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonists may be used to treat acute attacks. Attacks can also be prevented by avoiding triggering factors such as allergens or rapid temperature changes and through drug treatment. But inhalers only provide temporary relief and don’t stop the recurrence of attacks of dyspnea. Homoeopathy offers a permanent cure to chronic conditions like asthma. The remedy is selected on the basis of the symptoms of the patient, the causes behind it, family history and personal history along with the specific reaction pattern of the individual to the suffering and his behaviour. A well-selected homoeopathic remedy in appropriate dosage when used for a stipulated time under the supervision of a physician can provide a permanent relief from asthma.

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