Fight Off Asthma Attacks Naturally
"While there is no cure for asthma, proper health maintenance can help prevent an attack."
Today Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, holistic nutrition, explains the different signs and symptoms associated with asthma, with a focus on adult onset asthma. Dr. Nancy covers the top ways to help prevent an asthma attack, and some natural treatment options as well.
Asthma is one of the most common diseases in America. Learn more about it today — don’t miss this very important post.
- 02:00: Asthma rates in the U.S.
- 03:33: Symptoms of Asthma
- 05:37: Different Types of Asthma
- 05:43: Allergic asthma
- 06:22: Nonallergic asthma
- 07:22: Exercise-induced asthma
- 08:15: Cough-variant asthma
- 09:56: Nocturnal asthma
- 10:57: Occupational asthma
- 11:47: Asthma-COPD overlap
- 13:54: Childhood asthma
- 14:36: Adult-onset asthma
- 15:33: Avoiding and Preventing Asthma Attacks
- 18:07: Home remedies to help manage asthma and alleviate symptoms of an attack
- 27:30: Wrap-Up
An asthma attack can be a very scary thing for everyone involved. Your airways constrict and you can’t get air in through your mouth or your nose… it’s enough to send anyone into a panic! The good news is, there are things you can do each day to help prevent an asthma attack from happening.
Asthma Rates in the U.S.
Asthma is one of the most common diseases in America. 25 million people living in the United States currently have asthma — that’s one out of every 13 people!
Of that 25 million people, more than 6 million are children. In fact, asthma is more common in children than it is in adults. And while asthma is more common in adult women than in adult men, asthma cases in children are more common in boys than in girls. That’s pretty interesting, don’t you think?
Sadly, there is no cure for asthma, and every day 10 people on average in the United States actually die as a result of asthma. Therefore, taking good care of yourself and doing as much as possible to prevent an asthma attack is vital.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition that involves a constriction of the airways when they become inflamed. There are many different types of asthma, which we will discuss, but the symptoms for most of them overlap. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- A tight feeling in your chest
- Coughing, especially during exercise, at night, or when you’re laughing
Depending on the type of asthma you may be suffering from, other symptoms may include fatigue and excess mucus. When these symptoms persist or worsen, they can result in an asthma attack, which could cause very rapid breathing, or can even cause people to stop breathing altogether. Coughing uncontrollably is another symptom, as is panic, and trouble talking. The muscles of the neck and chest can become severely tight, compounding symptoms. An asthma attack can range from mild to severe, to even life-threatening. And while there is no cure for asthma, proper health maintenance can help prevent an attack.
Different Types of Asthma
Allergic asthma is triggered by some sort of allergen, whether it be pet dander, mold, pollen, dust, or food-related. Since pollen, mold, and dust are major triggers associated with this type of asthma, it tends to coincide with and is related to seasonal allergies.
Unlike allergic asthma, nonallergic asthma is triggered by irritants in the air that aren’t necessarily linked to allergies. Irritants associated with this type of asthma include:
- Heavy fragrances like perfume
- Cigarette smoke
- Air fresheners
- Wood smoke
- Air pollution, like smog or car exhaust
This type of asthma is more currently known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB, and 90% of people who already have another type of asthma suffer from EIB, as well. However, those without any other type of asthma can be afflicted with this type of asthma, which is usually triggered within 15 minutes of beginning exercise. If you notice you begin coughing or find it hard to breathe during exercise, you might have EIB.
Cough-variant asthma (CVA), is an odd type of asthma. It presents itself as an annoying dry cough and that’s it. No shortness of breath or wheezing, just a cough that won’t go away. And it won’t go away until you are diagnosed with and treated for CVA. As with every other form of asthma, CVA is brought on by some sort of environmental trigger, which causes the airways to become inflamed. The cough persists because it’s trying to get rid of whatever is causing the inflammation. However, you’re not going to expel anything because as I already mentioned the cough that comes with CVA is a dry one. Seeking treatment is important, you guys, because CVA can turn into full-blown asthma, so, if you’ve had a cough for weeks on end that either isn’t turning into something or won’t go away, seek medical treatment, which will likely include the use of an inhaler to reduce the swelling in those airways.
This is another interesting one, as it is a form of asthma that worsens at night. It can be triggered by pet dander and dust mites in your pillow or mattress. It can also be brought on by chronic sinus issues and excess mucus, as well as lower levels of the hormone epinephrine in the body, which works to widen your airways and help you relax. Stress, sleep apnea, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, as well as a delayed response to an allergen you were exposed to earlier in the day can all trigger nocturnal asthma.
As the name implies, this type of asthma is work-related asthma, triggered by pollutants and irritants present in the workplace. This type of asthma is often experienced in a variety of work environments like baking, farming, manufacturing, and woodworking. Irritants associated with this type of asthma include:
- Animal proteins
- Rubber latex
- Baking flour
COPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and breathing problems are one of the major symptoms associated with the disease. Those with asthma don’t necessarily develop COPD and vice versa, but when someone does develop both, it is known as Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome, or ACOS. Of all the annual asthma-related deaths, almost half of those are people 65 years old and older. Many of them also have COPD and don’t even know it, making ACOS a very serious and potentially lethal disease. Like the other forms of asthma, symptoms of ACOS are triggered by dander, dust, and pollen and many of the symptoms are the same. One difference, though, is the presence of excessive mucus and extreme lethargy, especially during strenuous activities or exercise.
According to the American Lung Association, up to 1 million children suffering from asthma do so as a result of second-hand smoke. Kids with childhood asthma often experience severe asthma attacks intermittently due to some sort of allergen, like second-hand smoke.
It’s possible to develop asthma as an adult. Adult-onset asthma can be triggered by an upper respiratory infection, or maybe you’ve managed to avoid your asthma trigger all through childhood. Then, suddenly, you’re exposed to a certain fume or pet dander and adult-onset asthma rears its head. An allergy test is the quickest way to discover if you have an allergy and what allergen is the culprit, so you know what to avoid and how to better manage symptoms, which could include shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing when you laugh or during exercise, and trouble breathing.
Avoiding and Preventing Asthma Attacks
Obesity can be a MAJOR factor in adult-onset asthma. The food you eat is vitally important to reduce the risk of obesity and potentially developing adult-onset asthma, as a result. Since asthma, by definition, is inflammation of the airways, eating lots and lots of anti-inflammatory foods is key to preventing an attack. That includes eating high-fiber fruits and berries, lots of veggies in the form of leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins like cold water fish, chicken, and beans. Plus, taking a powerful natural inflammation-fighter like Smarter Curcumin each day.
Since an asthma attack is most often brought on by some sort of trigger, knowing what those triggers are and avoiding them as much as possible is the best way to avoid an asthma attack.
Dust mites, for instance, can be avoided by washing your sheets and blankets regularly and by avoiding the use of down comforters and pillows. These are perfect breeding grounds for dust mites.
Stay on top of the weather forecast, they tend to also give you a report on the daily air quality, as well as the level of pollen in the air. If you know air pollutants and pollen are your triggers, stay indoors on days when these levels are high.
Home remedies to help manage asthma and alleviate symptoms of an attack
Ginger is an inflammation fighter, and offers other benefits for inflammation sufferers. Ginger helps keep the airways open by working with an enzyme in the body that reduces the airways’ ability to contract while at the same time inhibiting an enzyme that causes the airways to relax. It also contains something called oleoresins, which work to clear out mucus and phlegm in the lungs and throat. When ginger juice is combined with equal parts of honey and pomegranate juice, you reduce your chances of an asthma attack by taking 1 tablespoon of the concoction up to 3 times every day.
While we are not the biggest advocates of drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages caffeine can help open up the air passages alleviate asthma symptoms for up to four hours and can be used when needed.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Integrate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. You can get omega-3s from foods like chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, cod liver oil, and fish like mackerel, sardines, herring, and salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties so it’s no surprise they help alleviate symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions and diseases. You can also increase your Omega-3 intake by taking a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Smarter Omega 3.
If you know natural fragrances aren’t an asthma trigger for you, essential oils may help bring some relief too. When inhaled, eucalyptus, basil, and lavender may make it easier to breathe.
Not to be confused with mustard essential oil — mustard oil can open air passages when massaged into the chest and neck. This is especially effective when mixed with camphor.
These can be very effective both in strengthening the lungs so you prevent an attack, and can also be effective in getting air back into the body during an attack.
- One technique you could try is a simple diaphragmatic breathing exercise. Your diaphragm is the area located beneath your lungs. By breathing into your diaphragm, you’re strengthening it and decreasing the amount of oxygen your body needs by slowing down your breathing. To do this, you’ll want to lie on your back with your knees bent or with a pillow underneath your knees and your legs extended. If that’s uncomfortable, feel free to do this sitting upright in a chair. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Now, the goal here is to belly breathe. First, close your eyes and breathe naturally, noticing if your chest moves or if your belly moves. Now, try to just breathe into your belly. You should feel the hand on your stomach move, but not the one on your chest.
- The pursed lip breathing technique is one that can actually help you in the event of an asthma attack. This technique helps to relieve any shortness of breath and it does so by forcing you to force more out of the lungs. You see, when you’re having an asthma attack, air gets trapped in the lungs so this helps to alleviate that. What you want to do is close your mouth and take a breath in through the nose. As you exhale, part the lips only slightly and breathe out slowly. You might hear a soft whooshing or whistling sound.
- The easiest breathing exercise you could try would be to simply breathe through your nose. People who breathe through their mouths have reported more severe asthma symptoms and breathing through the nose creates more humidity in the air going into your lungs, which can diminish asthma symptoms.
- Finally, yoga breathing, or three-part breath has also been linked to reduction in asthma symptoms. To do this, begin by placing a hand on either side of the stomach. Close your eyes. Breathe into the belly so you feel your hands expand. Do this for a breath or two. Now, move your hands to either side of your rib cage. Again, try to bring the breath into this area only, feeling the rib cage and the hands expand. Last, move your hands to your chest. Take a few breaths, breathing only into your chest. Release your hands, and, next time as you inhale, breathe first into the belly, then the diaphragm, and then the chest, feeling your collarbones expand. As you exhale, reverse that order – releasing the breath first in the chest, diaphragm, and then feel the navel draw toward the spine as you release the breath in the belly. Not only is this type of breathing great for alleviating asthma but it’s a great way to relax and de-stress.
Today we gave you an overview of what asthma is, the symptoms associated with it, and different types of asthma out there — focusing on adult asthma, and what you can do to prevent an asthma attack.
- Currently, 25 million people suffer from some type of asthma every day
- Some of the symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and wheezing or coughing.
- Asthma is generally brought on by some kind of trigger, whether that be a seasonal trigger like pollen, or a workplace trigger like chemical fumes. Pet dander, cigarette smoke, and dust are also big-time asthma triggers, and knowing what your triggers are is the first line of defense in preventing an attack.
- Some of the different types of asthma are adult-onset asthma, exercise-inhibited asthma, or exercise inhibited bronchoconstriction, asthma-COPD overlap, and cough-variant asthma.
- Breathing exercises, caffeine, eating anti-inflammatory foods and omega-3 fatty acids are all things you can do to help reduce asthma symptoms naturally.
- Ginger is also a great asthma reliever, as are eucalyptus, basil, and lavender essential oils, provided your trigger isn’t heavy fragrances.
Try some of these tips to keep asthma under control and prevent future attacks. And share it with your friends and family who may suffer from asthma!