February 7, 2017

Asthma is the common chronic respiratory disease in childhood. Approximately 6.5million, or 9 percent of children under the age of 18, have asthma; that makes it the most common chronic condition in childhood. In fact, asthma is one of the leading reasons kids are hospitalized.

Unlike a cold or other respiratory illness, asthma isn’t contagious; hence a child will not catch it from his or her friends. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, known as bronchial tubes, in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The bronchial tubes are lined on the inside with mucous membranes and encased by smooth, sensitive muscles on the outside. The chronic inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread, but variable, airflow obstruction within the lung that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment.

The inner lining of the bronchial tubes contains special cells, called inflammatory cells, which release chemicals after exposure to irritants. These chemicals cause the bronchial muscle constriction, mucous secretion, swelling of the bronchial tube inner lining, and coughing. Some of these chemicals also tell the body to send more inflammatory cells into the area. The lining of the bronchial tubes of asthmatics contain more of these special cells. In addition, in asthmatics, the inflammatory cells release their chemicals after exposure to things the person is allergic to — for example, after exposure to dogs, or cats, or ragweed.

The result is a wheezing sound that may be more noticeable when a child exhales. Frequent coughing is a common companion of asthma as well as a tight feeling in the chest.


Asthma results from an interaction between different environmental and genetic factors.

Environmental Factors The environmental influences begin during pregnancy: allergic sensitisation has been described before birth, and several studies have demonstrated reduced lung function in newborn infants of smoking mothers compared to those of nonsmoking mothers. Smoking increases the risk of both asthma and poorer lung function throughout childhood. All children should have the right to an environment free from tobacco smoke products both before and after birth.

Allergens – Allergen exposure may cause acute asthma exacerbations, and even in the absence of an exacerbation, may increase airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Allergens may be encountered both outdoors and indoors, and house dust mites and animal dander are particularly important perennial indoor allergens. Occupational agents play a minor role during childhood, but several types of allergy may influence the choice of education in relationship to later working life. Kindergartens and schools are the working environment of children, and the need for a healthy indoor environment in such institutions should be emphasised. Special consideration should be given to the increased risk of respiratory infections, especially in kindergartens. In schools, precautions may be taken to reduce allergen exposure for allergic asthmatic children.

Medicine – It is widely accepted that antibiotics play a role in asthma attacks and may contribute to its original cause. Many children are so well protected from germs, bacteria and childhood illnesses that their immune systems don’t develop properly. Instead of acquiring the immune cells specific to certain bacteria and viruses, they retain highly reactive immune cells.

Ampicillin, amoxycilllin cephalosporins, erythromycin, spiramycin and tetracycline, both in prescription form and the antibiotic-treated animal products we ingest, worsen asthma attacks. Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can trigger or worsen asthma attacks. Other drugs such as betablockers, estrogen, NSAIDs and sulfites can trigger or worsen asthma attacks.

Genetic – Asthma, and one of its major causes, allergy, have strong hereditary traits. During recent years, much effort has been put into genetic family studies in order to identify genetic markers. A large number of markers with possible relationships to asthma and airway inflammation have already been identified, but these vary between populations. There has also been increased focus upon epigenetics: the finding that environmental influences may cause DNA methylation and histone formation, and thus change and inactivate the influence of specific genes, has given insight into how the environment may interact with genes, and has shown that this interaction may even be transferred from mother to child.

Infections – Respiratory virus infections are the major cause of acute bronchiolitis in infancy and of acute asthma attacks among older asthmatic children. From 2 years of age, rhinovirus infections are the most frequent precipitators of acute asthma.

Exercise – Throughout childhood, but increasingly during school age, exercise is an important cause of asthma exacerbations (exercise-induced asthma). It has been reported that 30% of all asthmatic children suffer from restriction of physical activity and it is very important to teach asthmatic children to master exercise, by education, advice related to ‘warming up’ and medical treatment.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the child’s likelihood of developing asthma include –

  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Previous allergic reactions, including skin reactions, food allergies or hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • A family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis, hives or eczema
  • Living in an urban area with increased exposure to air pollution
  • Low birth weight
  • Obesity
  • A chronic runny or stuffy nose (rhinitis)
  • Severe lower respiratory tract infection, such as pneumonia
  • Inflamed sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD)
  • Being male
  • Pet dander


Breathing problems are common. They can include –

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Gasping for air
  • Trouble breathing out (exhaling)
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • When the child is has a hard time breathing, the skin of the chest and neck may suck inward.

Other symptoms of asthma in children include –

  • Coughing that sometimes wakes the child up at night (it may be the only symptom)
  • Dark bags under the eyes
  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability
  • Tightness in the chest
  • A whistling sound made when breathing (wheezing).


Asthma may cause a number of complications, including –

  • Severe asthma attacks that require emergency treatment or hospital care
  • Permanent narrowing of the airways (bronchial tubes)
  • Missed school days or getting behind in school
  • Poor sleep and fatigue
  • Symptoms that interfere with play, sports or other activities


Inhalers – There are different types of inhaler devices, which deliver asthma medication to the airways either in dry powdered form, or as an aerosol form with a propellant.

  • Preventers are used to reduce the inflamed areas of the lungs and to prevent the symptoms of asthma occurring. They contain steroid medication to be inhaled usually once or twice a day, and work as a long term treatment to control asthma.
  • Relievers (bronchodilators) are used to provide immediate relief from the symptoms of asthma when they develop. These inhalers work by opening up the airways to allow more air into the lungs and make breathing easier. They do not help reduce inflammation or prevent symptoms from occurring in the future. Some medicines work as both a preventer and a reliever.

Nebulisers – Nebulisers are sometimes used to treat emergency situations where asthma has become out of control. They used to be used in children experiencing a particularly severe attack of asthma, but research has shown that inhalers used with a spacer are as effective as nebulisers in delivering medicine. Nebulisers continue to be used by ambulance crews, some GPs and in A&E departments, as they allow oxygen to be given at the same time. However, a hospital may use an inhaler with spacer instead as doing so may allow the child to be discharged from hospital sooner.

Steroids – Steroids work by reducing inflammation. In the case of asthma, when a patient uses an inhaler, steroids are taken directly to the lungs, thereby directly treating the area that is affected by the allergy. The steroids then reduce the swelling of the airways which is the underlying problem in asthma. Also, some allergic responses involve a second (late phase) reaction after the initial allergic reaction. Steroids, unlike anti-histamines, can reduce the symptoms of these late phase reactions, by limiting the activity of the cells responsible for releasing further chemicals in the body. In this way steroids not only reduce inflammation, but they can also stop an ongoing allergic reaction.

Anti-leukotrienes – Leukotrienes are chemicals released by the immune system that cause swelling and secretion, and can cause allergy symptoms to persist. Anti-leukotrienes work by reducing inflammation and mucus production, and work in a similar way to steroids, but with fewer side effects.

Lifestyle Changes for Parents –

  • Try to avoid triggers which could makes the child’s asthma symptoms worse (e.g. animal hair) and note down any new ones to discuss with your doctor.
  • Do not smoke around the child or allow the child to stay in smoky surroundings.
  • Exercise can play an important part for the child. Swimming and sport should be encouraged as long as the child’s asthma is under control.
  • Think about any triggers in holiday areas, such as house dust mite or pets. Request a pet-free place to stay if possible, and make sure to give details to any holiday club staff about your child’s condition.

Alternative Treatment

Beta-carotene, the compound that gives fruit and vegetables their orange or red color, reduced asthma attacks in 53% of people in one study. Carotenoids are the basis of vitamin A which is involved in the mucous membranes. Severity of asthma correlates with low vitamin A.

Vitamin B3 and vitamin B12 are commonly low in asthmatics. These nutrients lower antihistamine levels and reduce wheezing.

Folate, or vitamin B9, reduced allergic reactions and inflammation. It lowers wheezing by 40%.

Fish oil – The evidence for using omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) to treat asthma is mixed. At least a few studies have found that fish oil supplements may reduce inflammation and symptoms in children.

Quercetin, a kind of antioxidant called a flavonoid, helps to reduce the release of histamine and other allergic or inflammatory chemicals in the body. Histamine contributes to allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, watery eyes, and hives.

Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) to act as antioxidants.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps to detoxify the body. Vitamin C reduces wheezing and inflammation.

Magnesium – The idea of using magnesium to treat asthma comes from the fact that people who have asthma often have low levels of magnesium.

Potassium – For healthy immune system.

Coleus forskohlii – Coleus forskohlii, or forskolin, is another herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat asthma.

Pycnogenol – French maritime pine bark, called pycnogenol, suggests that it may reduce symptoms and improve lung function in children with asthma

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) – Boswellia (also known as Salai guggal) is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian system of health care.

Saiboku-to – In three preliminary studies, a traditional Japanese herbal mixture called Saiboku-to has helped reduce symptoms and allowed study participants to reduce doses of corticosteroids.


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February 7, 2017

Bronchitis is an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) inflammation of the airways of the lungs. It is caused by infection, cigarette smoking, and inhalation of environmental pollutants. The most characteristic symptoms are coughing and wheezing. Treatment of bronchitis primarily involves the relief of symptoms and, in cases of chronic bronchitis, minimizing damage to the airways.

Bronchitis occurs when the bronchioles (air tubes in the lungs) – which carry air to and from your lungs, are inflamed and make too much mucus. More specifically, bronchitis describes a condition where the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed or infected. People with bronchitis have a reduced ability to breathe in air and oxygen into their lungs; they also have heavy mucus or phlegm forming in their airways.

Bronchitis, which can affect anyone, is one of the most common conditions for which people seek medical advice. It occurs mostly in winter, especially during outbreaks of influenza. People with bronchitis are more susceptible to developing pneumonia, which is a serious bacterial or viral infection of the lungs.  Inflammation of the airways causes them to narrow and secrete thick mucus, or phlegm, which clogs the small airways, causing the characteristic cough of bronchitis, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The cough may produce sputum, which is phlegm coughed up from the lungs. This is known as a productive cough – an attempt by the body to clear mucus that is clogging the airways.

Types of Bronchitis

  • Chronic bronchitis is a cough that persists for two to three months each year for at least two years. The cough and inflammation may be caused by infection, illness, or exposure to tobacco smoke or other irritating substances in the air.
  • Acute or short-term bronchitis is more common and usually is caused by a viral infection. Episodes of acute bronchitis can be related to and worsened by smoking.


Although acute and chronic bronchitis are both inflammations of the air passages, their causes and treatments are different.

Acute Bronchitis – Acute bronchitis is most prevalent in winter. It usually follows a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, and can be accompanied by a secondary bacterial infection. Acute bronchitis resolves within two weeks, although the cough may persist longer. Acute bronchitis, like any upper airway inflammatory process, can increase a person’s likelihood of developing pneumonia.

Anyone can get acute bronchitis, but infants, young children, and the elderly are more likely to get the disease because people in these age groups generally have weaker immune systems. Smokers and people with heart or other lung diseases are also at higher risk of developing acute bronchitis. Individuals exposed to chemical fumes or high levels of air pollution also have a greater chance of developing acute bronchitis.

Chronic Bronchitis – Chronic bronchitis is a major cause of disability and death in the United States. The American Lung Association estimates that about 14 million Americans suffer from the disease. Like acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of airways accompanied by coughing and spitting up of phlegm. In chronic bronchitis, these symptoms are present for at least three months in each of two consecutive years.

Chronic bronchitis is caused by inhaling bronchial irritants, especially cigarette smoke. Until recently, more men than women developed chronic bronchitis, but as the number of women who smoke has increased, so has their rate of chronic bronchitis. Because this disease progresses slowly, middle-aged and older people are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis.

Who is at Risk?

  • The elderly
  • People breathing in irritating chemicals
  • Smokers
  • Those with a lung condition, such as asthma
  • People with poor immunity


Symptoms for both acute and chronic bronchitis include –

  • Persistent cough, which may produce mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Low fever and chills
  • Chest tightening
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Breathlessness
  • Headaches
  • Blocked nose and sinuses.

One of the main symptoms of acute bronchitis is a cough that lasts for several weeks. It can sometimes last for several months if the bronchial tubes take a long time to fully heal.

It is common for the symptoms of chronic bronchitis to get worse two or more times every year, and they are often worse during the winter months. However, a cough that refuses to go away could also be a sign of another illness such as asthma or pneumonia.



  • Bronchodilators – increase airflow by opening airways and help make it easier to breathe
  • Corticosteroids – reduce inflammation. They are either inhaled using an inhaler or taken by mouth. These drugs are usually used to treat moderate to severe COPD
  • Cough medicines – Two types of cough medicines, cough suppressants (for a dry cough) or expectorants (for a wet, productive cough that brings up mucus), are available over-the-counter and by prescription.
  • Antibiotics – Studies show that antibiotics are not an effective treatment for acute bronchitis, and they may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Removing the source of irritation to the lungs – for example, by stopping smoking
  • Using a humidifier – this can loosen mucus and relieve limited airflow and wheezing
  • Exercise – this will strengthen the muscles involved in breathing
  • Breathing exercises – for example, pursed-lip breathing that helps to slow breathing down.

Alternative Treatment

N-acetylecysteine (NAC) – NAC is a modified form of a dietary amino acid that works as an antioxidant in the body. Several studies indicate that it may help relieve symptoms of COPD by acting as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress on the lungs (damage caused by free radicals, particles that harm cells and DNA).

Probiotics – Probiotics help prevent infections in the intestines, and there is preliminary evidence that they might help prevent respiratory infections.

Colloidal Silver – All natural colloidal silver, pure sterilized water, or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and sterilized water and pure silver particles, has been known to strengthen the immune system. Particularly effective for acute and chronic bronchitis sufferers, is using a nebulae, or electric inhalation machine to calm bronchitis symptoms, and promote rapid recovery from acute bronchitis.

Vitamin Supplements – Vitamin C provides antihistaminic relief due to its ability to detoxify and metabolize histamines in the system. The antioxidant vitamin E is helpful to treat the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Vitamin E levels are typically lower in smokers than nonsmokers. Since bronchitis is linked to smoking, vitamin E supplementation is important for bronchitis treatment. Vitamin A treatment is helpful for treating bronchitis, notes the Alternative-Health-Group.

Semen sinapis alba has been shown to ease difficult breathing and coughing due to colds, bronchitis, and phlegm retention. With its pungent taste and warm nature, this herb removes obstructions from respiratory channels, and aids in recovery from acute bronchitis.

Echinacea – Echinacea may help prevent colds, which can lead to bronchitis.

Andrographis –  Andrographis may also help lessen cold symptoms and possibly reduce your risk of getting bronchitis.

Ginseng – Studies suggest that taking American ginseng may help prevent colds, as well as reduce the number of colds experienced and the severity of symptoms.

Lobelia – Also called Indian tobacco, lobelia has a long history of use as an herbal remedy for respiratory problems including bronchitis.

Ivy herbal extract – Studies show that ivy herbal extract, in the form of syrup or cough drops, resolved cough-related symptoms among both children and adults.

Zinc – This helps to speed up tissue repair.

Aromatherapy – Running a humidifier with an essential oil such as cedarwood, bergamot, eucalyptus, myrrh, sweet fennel, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, or marjoram at night may help thin mucus and ease cough


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February 7, 2017

Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the air passages resulting in the temporary narrowing of the airways that transport air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Asthma symptoms can be caused by allergens or irritants that are inhaled into the lungs, resulting in inflamed, clogged and constricted airways. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing tightness in the chest. In severe cases, asthma can be deadly.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role, in particular, mast cells, eosinophils, T lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and epithelial cells. In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment. The inflammation also causes an associated increase in the existing bronchial hyper-responsiveness to a variety of stimuli.

The inside walls of an asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction.

As inflammation causes the airways to become narrower, less air can pass through them, both to and from the lungs. Symptoms of the narrowing include wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing), chest tightness, breathing problems, and coughing. Asthmatics usually experience these symptoms most frequently during the night and the early morning. Asthma is an incurable illness. However, with good treatment and management there is no reason why a person with asthma cannot live a normal and active life.

Asthma is among the most common chronic childhood illnesses, accounting for 10.5 million missed school days a year. It also accounts for 14.2 million lost workdays for adults. Every year, about 14 million Americans see a doctor for asthma. About 1.4 million patients visit a hospital outpatient department for asthma; almost 1.75 million go to a hospital emergency room. The number of people in the U.S. diagnosed with asthma is increasing.

How is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma episode, or an asthma attack, is when symptoms are worse than usual. They can come on suddenly and can be mild, moderate or severe.

  • The muscles around the airways tighten up, narrowing the airway.
  • Less air is able to flow through the airway.
  • Inflammation of the airways increases, further narrowing the airway.
  • More mucus is produced in the airways, undermining the flow of air even more.

Types of Athma

  • Child-Onset Asthma – Asthma that begins during childhood is called child-onset asthma. This type of asthma happens because a child becomes sensitized to common allergens in the environment – most likely due to genetic reasons. The child is atopic – a genetically determined state of hypersensitivity to environmental allergens.
  • Adult-Onset Asthma – This term is used when a person develops asthma after reaching 20 years of age. Adult-onset asthma affects women more than men, and it is also much less common than child-onset asthma. It can also be triggered by some allergic material or an allergy. It is estimated that up to perhaps 50% of adult-onset asthmas are linked to allergies. However, a substantial proportion of adult-onset asthma does not seem to be triggered by exposure to allergen(s); this is called non-allergic adult-onset asthma.
  • Exercise-Induced Asthma – If a person coughs, wheezes or feels out of breath during or after exercise, he or she could be suffering from exercise-induced asthma. Obviously, the level of fitness is also a factor – a person who is unfit and runs fast for ten minutes is going to be out of breath. However, if the coughing, wheezing or panting does not make sense, this could be an indication of exercise-induced asthma.
  • Cough-Induced Asthma – Cough-induced asthma is one of the most difficult asthmas to diagnose. The doctor has to eliminate other possibilities, such as chronic bronchitis, post nasal drip due to hay fever, or sinus disease.
  • Occupational Asthma – This type of asthma is triggered by something in the patient’s place of work. Factors such as chemicals, vapors, gases, smoke, dust, fumes, or other particles can trigger asthma. It can also be caused by a virus (flu), molds, animal products, pollen, humidity and temperature.
  • Nocturnal Asthma – Nocturnal asthma occurs between midnight and 8 AM. It is triggered by allergens in the home such as dust and pet dander or is caused by sinus conditions. Nocturnal or nighttime asthma may occur without any daytime symptoms recognized by the patient.
  • Steroid-Resistant Asthma (Severe Asthma) – While the majority of patients respond to regular inhaled glucocorticoid (steroid) therapy, some are steroid resistant. Airway inflammation and immune activation play an important role in chronic asthma. Current guidelines of asthma therapy have therefore focused on the use of anti-inflammatory therapy, particularly inhaled glucocorticoids (GCs).


Allergies – Almost all asthma sufferers have allergies. In fact, over 25% of people who have hay fever (allergic rhinitis) also develop asthma. Allergic reactions triggered by antibodies in the blood often lead to the airway inflammation that is associated with asthma. Common sources of indoor allergens include animal proteins (mostly cat and dog allergens), dust mites, cockroaches, and fungi. It is possible that the push towards energy-efficient homes has increased exposure to these causes of asthma.

Environmental Factors – Pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity have all been shown to trigger asthma in some individuals. During periods of heavy air pollution, there tend to be increases in asthma symptoms and hospital admissions. Smoggy conditions release the destructive ingredient known as ozone, causing coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain. These same conditions emit sulfur dioxide, which also results in asthma attacks by constricting airways.

Pregnancy – Babies born by Caesarean sections have a 20% increase in asthma prevalence compared to babies born by vaginal birth. It is possible that immune system-modifying infections from bacterial exposure during Cesarean sections are responsible for this difference.

Obesity – Overweight adults – those with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 – are 38% more likely to have asthma compared to adults who are not overweight. Obese adults – those with a BMI of 30 or greater – have twice the risk of asthma. According to some researchers, the risk may be greater for nonallergic asthma than allergic asthma.

Tobacco smoke has been linked to a higher risk of asthma as well as a higher risk of death due to asthma, wheezing, and respiratory infections. In addition, children of mothers who smoke – and other people exposed to second-hand smoke – have a higher risk of asthma prevalence. Adolescent smoking has also been associated with increases in asthma risk.

Stress – People who undergo stress have higher asthma rates. Part of this may be explained by increases in asthma-related behaviors such as smoking that are encouraged by stress. However, recent research has suggested that the immune system is modified by stress as well.

Genetic Factors – Genes linked to asthma also play roles in managing the immune system and inflammation. There have not, however, been consistent results from genetic studies across populations – so further investigations are required to figure out the complex interactions that cause asthma.

Inflammatory Triggers – Inflammatory (allergic) triggers can cause inflammation of the lungs’ airways or tightening of the airways’ muscles. Inflammatory triggers include –

  • Dust mites
  • Animals
  • Cockroaches
  • Moulds
  • Pollens
  • Viral infections
  • Certain air pollutants

Symptom Triggers – Symptom (non-allergic) triggers generally do not cause inflammation, but they can provoke “twitchy” airways, especially if they’re already inflamed. Symptom triggers include-

  • Smoke
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Chemical fumes and other strong-smelling substances like perfumes
  • Certain food additives like sulfites
  • Certain air pollutants
  • Intense emotions


Asthma symptoms can differ for each person, but here are some of the most common:

  • Wheezing – People may notice a whistling sound when you breathe. Sometimes this happens only when you exercise or have a cold.
  • Frequent cough – This may be more common at night. People may or may not cough up mucus.
  • Shortness of breath – This is the feeling that you can’t get enough air into the lungs. It may occur only once in a while, or often.
  • Chest tightness – The chest may feel tight, especially during cold weather or exercise. This can also be the first sign of a flare-up.


Conventional Treatment

MedicineLong-term asthma control medications, generally taken daily, are the cornerstone of asthma treatment. These medications keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and make it less likely you’ll have an asthma attack. Types of long-term control medications include –

  • Inhaled corticosteroids – These anti-inflammatory drugs include fluticasone (Flonase, Flovent HFA), budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler, Rhinocort), flunisolide (Aerospan HFA), ciclesonide (Alvesco, Omnaris, Zetonna), beclomethasone (Qnasl, Qvar), mometasone (Asmanex) and fluticasone furoate (Arnuity Ellipta).
  • Leukotriene modifiers. These oral medications — including montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo) — help relieve asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours.
  • Long-acting beta agonists – These inhaled medications, which include salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil, Perforomist), open the airways.
  • Combination inhalers – These medications — such as fluticasone-salmeterol (Advair Diskus), budesonide-formoterol (Symbicort) and formoterol-mometasone (Dulera) — contain a long-acting beta agonist along with a corticosteroid.
  • Theophylline – Theophylline (Theo-24, Elixophyllin, others) is a daily pill that helps keep the airways open (bronchodilator) by relaxing the muscles around the airways.
  • Short-acting beta agonists – These inhaled, quick-relief bronchodilators act within minutes to rapidly ease symptoms during an asthma attack. They include albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, others) and levalbuterol (Xopenex).
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent) – Like other bronchodilators, ipratropium acts quickly to immediately relax your airways, making it easier to breathe.
  • Oral and intravenous corticosteroids – These medications — which include prednisone and methylprednisolone — relieve airway inflammation caused by severe asthma.

Alternative Treatment

Vitamins – Antioxidant vitamins are commonly suggested complementary therapies for asthma. Adults whose diets are naturally high in antioxidants such as vitamin C– and vitamin E–rich foods have the fewest pulmonary problems.

Magnesium – Dietary magnesium intake is strongly correlated with asthma symptoms; the more magnesium, the fewer the symptoms. Intravenous magnesium has proven helpful in treating pediatric status asthmatics.

Selenium – Plasma and erythrocyte levels of selenium and the activity of the selenium-dependent enzyme glutathione reductase are lower in asthmatic adults than in non-asthmatics.

Salt restriction – While bronchial sensitivity to methacholine is increased by high salt intakes, a pediatric case control study found no association between levels of salt intake and asthma or exerciseinduced bronchospasm.

Fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils, canola oil, and flax seed oil) have been touted as important anti-inflammatory food supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids limit leukotriene synthesis by blocking arachidonic acid metabolism.

Zinc – There is little evidence of zinc deficiency causing asthma symptoms, but asthma patients have been shown to have lower plasma zinc than healthy controls.

Ginkgo extract has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Lobelia (Indian tobacco) was used by Native Americans to treat respiratory disorders, including asthma.

Other natural herbs that have been used to treat asthma include mullein, boswellia (Indian frankincense), dried ivy, and butterbur.

Coffee and tea can both be useful in treating asthma symptoms. Caffeine is a natural (mild) bronchodilator. Tea contains minute amounts of theophylline, one of the major prescription drugs for asthma.

Complementary Treatment

Acupuncture – A technique that involves inserting needles into key points of the body. Evidence suggests that acupuncture may signal the brain to release endorphins. These are hormones made by the body.

Biofeedback – A technique that helps people control involuntary physical responses. Results are mixed, with children and teenagers showing the greatest benefit.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation – A technique that emphasizes manipulation of the spine in order to help the body heal itself. There is no evidence that this treatment impairs the underlying disease or pulmonary function.

Hypnosis – An artificially induced dream state that leaves the person open to suggestion, hypnosis is a legitimate technique to help people manage various conditions. Hypnosis might give people with asthma or allergies more self-discipline to follow good health practices.

Laser treatment – A technique that uses high intensity light to shrink swollen tissue or unblock sinuses.

Massage, relaxation techniques, art/music therapy, yoga – Stress and anxiety may cause your airways to constrict more if you have asthma or allergies. Various techniques can help you relax, reduce anxiety or control your breathing.


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