Bronchial Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
This disease is widespread all over the world, hundreds of millions of people (5 - 10% of the world population) suffer from this disorder. Predisposition to asthma development of is higher at people who often suffered from colds, respiratory system inflammatory diseases, bronchitis, pneumonia.
- Asthma that occurs in case of increased sensitivity to infectious agents is called non-atopic.
- Atopic or allergic asthma develops on the background of increased sensitivity to allergens of different origin - plant pollen, chemicals in the air or entering body with drugs, dust, exhaust fumes. Atopic asthma is more common at people who suffer from eczema, conjunctivitis, neurodermatitis and other allergic reactions.
Causes and Risk FactorsAsthma usually manifests in early infancy, but with age it disappears or becomes milder with attacks appearing not more than once a week. Usually, cough attacks at asthma is combined with dyspnea, difficulties at exhalation. If asthma attacks are of allergic nature (atopic asthma), they are accompanied by symptoms that are characteristic for any allergy - urticaria fever, runny nose, swelling, watery eyes. For non-allergic asthma choking attacks are more common, they arise spontaneously, even without visible presence of allergens, bronchial tubes are sensitive to slightest irritation, such as temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure changes. Parasitogenic infection can also cause asthma - if pathogenic agents are present in the body for a long time, immune system is reduced, sensitivity to even slight irritation increases. In conjunction with chronic bronchitis and other respiratory tract diseases, this leads to asthma attacks in response to household chemicals, drugs (e. g., aspirin), pollen. Roundworm larvae, penetrating lungs, cause coughing, provoke asthma development. Parasitic invasion may be unnoticeable to humans, as roundworms after coughing are usually reflexively swallowed. Other parasites that cause asthma: strongyloide, hookworm, toxocara.
- Rales at breathing caused by air passing through highly constricted bronchial passages;
- Painful cough at night and in the morning, worsening with air temperature decrease;
- Shortness of breath, inability to exhale, possible panic attacks. Patients with asthma use shoulders and neck muscles to facilitate exhalation;
- Increased chest – there is air in lungs that is impossible to completely exhale;
- At severe disease stage breathing is so difficult, that even wheezing of exhaled air is not audible, because its amount is too small.
Asthma ComplicationsAcute asthma complications occur immediately after disease exacerbation and are poorly tolerated, patients are often hospitalized for inpatient treatment. These complications are mainly associated with respiratory system:
- lung reduction when bronchial tubes are fully blocked with mucus after asthma attack;
- secondary infectious or parasitic pneumonia (caused by hookworm, roundworm, caseworm, bacteria, viruses and mold fungi) - disease occurs at decreased by asthma immunity, its course is severe because of inflammation in airways;
- primary or secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (accompanied by pulmonary emphysema).
- pulmonary emphysema and oxygen deficiency as a consequence;
- blood pressure disorders, sometimes accompanied by fainting;
- cardiac arrhythmia, increased risk of heart attack, myocardial dystrophy;
- brain oxygen deficiency, respiratory encephalopathy;
- gastric and duodenal ulcer as a result of asthma medical treatment;
- renal insufficiency, hypercapnia, increased concentration of carbon dioxide in blood.
What Happens during Asthma Attack?Bronchial asthma attack is characterized by sharp narrowing of bronchial lumen and increased mucus secretion. This happens due to increased bronchial sensitivity and reactivity to external triggering factors - congenital or hereditary asthma main cause. At people predisposed to asthma attacks, bronchial receptors hypersensitivity to acetylcholine is observed, which triggers edema development and mucus hypersecretion in response to slightest irritation - dust particles, temperature changes, unusual flavors, household chemicals, medicines, pollen. During attack patient experiences difficulties with inhaling and exhaling because of mucus in bronchi - exhalation can take 10 times longer than inhalation, and characteristic wheezing in the chest clearly audible via stethoscope. At milder course asthma attack manifests itself with prolonged cough, dyspnea, but can transfer into asthma attack. Patient during asthma attack may experience panic, anxiety and fear of inability to breathe. Panic disorders during attack even more aggravate patient's condition. Therefore, it is important to keep calm and breathe evenly and deeply, increase fresh air flow into the room.
First Aid at Asthma AttackSince asthma symptoms increase gradually, starting with slight difficulties with breathing, ending with panting, which in severe cases can threaten patient's life, it is important to prevent attack development. For this it is important not only to timely provide first aid when attack has just begun, but also to know its precursors, from appearance of which to attack development it may take about an hour.
- Throat irritation and feeling watery mucus in throat, sneezing and runny nose, headache and cough are the main symptoms of approaching bronchial asthma attack of allergic nature.
- Insomnia and cough at night can also be dangerous signs, especially as bronchial reactivity is closely linked to circadian or daily rhythms, and reaches its peak at 4 pm, 8 am and at midnight.
- At exercise-induced asthma, the above symptoms are accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, nausea and sharp mood decrease.
Asthma at ChildrenIt is quite difficult to identify asthma at a child because its symptoms resemble colds that often appear at preschool children, if they go to kindergarten. During the first years of life a child can not even tell its parents if something is worrying it, so you must constantly monitor your child's condition. Listen to its breathing, pay attention to cough and unusual sounds - characteristic wheezing and rales during exhalation. Asthma symptoms at children occur gradually, not as noticeable as at adults. If asthma attack precursors at adults appear an hour before disease exacerbation, at children this period may take up to two days.
- Anxiety, irritability and psychic tension, sleep disorders and short dry cough attacks can occur 24 hours before asthma attack. At the end of attack, cough becomes productive, with sputum. The main attack, during which you can distinguish asthmatic cough from flu-type cough, is body temperature. In case of infectious diseases it is always increased, whereas asthma cough occurs at normal body temperature.
- It is also necessary to pay attention to other symptoms - pale skin, weakness and fatigue, sweating. With insufficient oxygen supply skin around nose and mouth becomes cyanotic hue, this condition requires immediate medical assistance.
- Observe child’s behavior: such symptoms as rapid breathing, dilated nostrils, hypochondriac muscles excessive contraction and attempts to take a steady posture leaning on palms or elbows indicate approaching attack.
Diet for AsthmaticsCompliance to special diet or specific dietary restrictions improve patient’s condition, preventing asthma attacks. First, control over food coming into the body helps patients to find allergy cause in case of atopic asthma - doctors even recommend keeping a diary where patients record everything they ate during the day. Secondly, fasting diet therapy can not only make asthma course milder, but also serve as prevention for other diseases - cholecystitis, pancreatitis, cardiac hypertension. According to Canadian Health&Care Mall research, fasting is recommended to asthmatics, which have this disease combined with obesity, chronic ischemic heart disease, neurodermatitis or eczema. So, first it is necessary to refuse from the following products:
- citrus fruits, grapes, apricots – they contain salicylates, which can provoke attack at patients with aspirin-induced asthma;
- strong tea and coffee - caffeine in these drinks stimulates nervous system, which can affect bronchial tubes reactivity, making them hypersensitive;
- spicy, smoked, fried foods;
- chocolate and peanuts, strawberries, bananas, fatty meat broth – they trigger histamine release, which reduces bronchial lumen and is involved in allergic reactions development;
- brightly dyed drinks and any foods with synthetic dyes - especially important for asthmatics with allergy to common food dye – tartrazine;
- acid berries, which can irritate mucous membrane - cranberry, red cowberry, blackberry;
- products based on trans fats - margarine, cakes, cookies and other sweets of mass production;
- greenhouse vegetables and fruits – they contain nitrates, which, because of early harvesting, do not have time to disintegrate and can act as allergens, causing gastric disorders, even at healthy people.
- vegetable soups and salads;
- whole grains, rich in zinc and vitamins of B group (lentils, brown rice, oats);
- products that restore normal intestine flora - cellulose-rich vegetables (carrot, cabbage, beet), bran, artichoke;
- vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: linseed, rapeseed and olive oil, they are used in salads and porridges;
- fresh vegetables and herbs - squash, broccoli, spinach, peas and beans, pumpkin, leafy greens;
- apples - both fresh and baked, contain much of pectin, which helps to cleanse the body.
Alternative Methods of Asthma TreatmentHalotherapy Halotherapy is a complex of non-drug body treatment methods by recreating salt caves microclimate. Hypoallergenic air with complete absence of bacteria and foreign substances, saturated with salt aerosols, helps to improve respiratory system, destroy pathogens, which are found in airways, saturate blood with oxygen. In 76% of cases halotherapy can reduce asthma symptoms, transfer it from acute to chronic up to full recovery. During first halotherapy session, there can appear dry cough attack, but after a few minutes it is stopped, and all the following sessions bring relief, feeling of easiness and surge of energy. Breathing becomes deeper, cells are saturated with salt ions, inhibiting harmful bacteria vital functions. It stimulates immune system and tissue regeneration, bronchial mucosa is restored and sputum is released, clearing airways. Halotherapy is also used to treat skin diseases - eczema, psoriasis, neurodermatitis, acne. Salt sprays antiseptic action cleans the body from parasites. Oxygen exchange, local metabolism and regeneration processes in tissues are increased. Speleotherapy Speleotherapy, as well as halotherapy, is based on therapeutic salt aerosols action, but range of its action is wider due to real climate conditions of salt caves recreation up to humidity level and air circulation type. In halochambers salts aerosols are composed of edible salt - sodium chloride, whereas in speleological chambers air is saturated with vapors of potassium, sodium and magnesium chloride salt; halite, sylvine and carnallite minerals are used. Halite blocks cover the floor, walls and ceiling of speleological chamber, which allows most accurately simulate climate condition of salt caves in potash mines. Speleotherapy sessions allow ceasing acute asthma attacks, cure chronic respiratory system infectious diseases, atopic asthma. Ten speleotherapy sessions are enough to get rid of sinusitis, pharyngitis and other ENT diseases. This helps to prevent asthma development, which can be provoked by rhinobronchial reflex - nose receptors irritation. Spa and Resort Treatment Spa asthma treatment is desirable to carry out in regions, which are different from patient’s residence climate - in more northern or southern parts of the country. Another temperature, humidity, air composition and lack of specific-allergen plants and dust pollution contribute to asthmatic’s condition improvement. However, be aware that when entering new climate conditions the body is going through an adjustment period (during one month) during which attacks can exacerbate. Spa treatment results last for the next year, also full recovery is possible. Breathing Exercises Mucus accumulation in bronchi is the main problem of asthmatics, because mucus causes difficulties with breathing, pathogens, that may trigger the following asthma attacks, develop in it. To remove mucus and bronchial tubes swelling is very difficult, and only regular breathing exercises are effective in this situation. The complex has a special set of exercises for asthmatics, aimed at cleansing bronchi from mucus, restoring their respiratory function, sanitizing pathogenic organisms and preventing inflammatory processes. After two weeks of daily exercises, bronchi are cleaned, their mucosa, injured during the last attack, is restored. Breathing exercises technique is based on passive inhalation principle - on inhaling patient makes several breathing moves by nose and then holds his breath and allows his diaphragm (largest respiratory muscle) to independently make exhalation movement, during which air comes out of bronchi without active respiratory movements by patient. Pressure created by diaphragm at tension contributes to separating mucus from bronchial walls and removing it from the body. During breathing exercises course it is important to keep shoulders fixed in one position, trying not to lift them - so air enters lower lungs parts, which contributes to body oxygen saturation. Canadian Health&Care Mall offers a basic set of exercises to prevent or cease asthma attacks:
- «Pump» - one of the most effective exercises for asthmatics, helping to cease acute asthma attack without medical assistance. Starting position: standing, arms stretched along the body, legs apart slightly narrower than at shoulder length. It is necessary to make a series of bows from the waist, hands reaching the floor, but not touching it. Along with the bow, noisy inhale through the nose is made, exhale is passive. Exercise rhythm is similar to movements rhythm at inflating tires with a pump, marching step rate. Make 12 sets of 8 short inhales.
- «Putting arms around shoulders» - hands bend in elbows and raised to shoulder level. Then in one motion throw them towards each other, as if trying to hug shoulders. Simultaneously with this movement make sharp inhale through the nose. Exhale is passive. After 4 - 8 inhales make a break for 3 - 5 seconds and perform this exercise again. In total - 12 sets, the number of inhales for one set and length of pauses depend on patient's condition.
- «Ears» - this exercise can be performed even in lying position during severe asthma attacks. Head is turned to the left, then to the right shoulder, as if trying to press ear to it. On each turn make short noisy inhale. After that, slightly shake your head, as if trying to shame someone.
Asthma Treatment and PreventionFor asthma prevention with hereditary predisposition to this disease patients should avoid allergens that enter the body with food or from the air - regularly do wet cleaning, clean the house from parasites, as much as possible limit use of household chemicals. Preventive measures for patients with allergic asthma:
- Room for sleeping and rooms, asthmatic lives in, must be furnished as simpler as possible. The more foreign objects in the room there are, the greater the risk of dust accumulation, forming dust mites habitat, is. Leaders on collected dust amount are thick carpets and soft toys, books and pillows filled with feather.
- It is recommended to decorate walls with washable wallpaper, to facilitate wet cleaning in the room and do not create conditions for mold habitat.
- Furniture should be simple, without splays, inclined surfaces and decorative items, book-shelves should be necessarily glazed; when cleaning you must not use household chemicals, air fresheners, polishes, scented soap or laundry detergent.
- Remove heavy curtains with drapery and folds in favor of cotton curtains - they collect less dust.
- During allergens-plant blossom period cover windows with gauze, and after each stay outdoors rinse your nose and mouth with water, protect your eyes with glasses and mouth and nose mucosa – with a protective.
- Carefully check medicines composition for presence of known allergens. Allergy can develop even to herbs and herbal preparations for asthma treatment, if their composition contains allergen. Elecampane, chamomile, calendula, white honey, dandelions, cereals seeds, orach pollen and dahlia seeds may be dangerous. To prevent cough attacks and dyspnea, try to eat only natural foods, without flavorings or dyes, rich in natural vitamins and antioxidants.