How to Treat Asthma

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What Is?
What is Asthma
How to Treat Asthma
Natural Treatments for Asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic or recurrent inflammatory disease of the airways (bronchi) that carry air to and from the lungs. Asthmatics find it hard to breathe during an attack because mucosal and bronchial wall inflammation induces bronchial constriction (bronchospasm) due to mucosal oedema, mucus plugging, and smooth muscle spasm. In turn, the swelling or inflammation makes the airways more sensitive to irritations and allergic reaction.

During an asthma attack, the lung airways become narrower and less air can get into the lungs causing symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and a cough. Symptoms are usually worse and more frequent during the night, in the early morning, or during exercise.

Asthma can be triggered by a bronchial hyper-sensitivity reaction to environmental and dietary allergens, air pollutants, exercise, and infection. Asthma appears to be genetically determined with a high incidence of bronchial hyperactivity and other allergic disorders detectable in close blood relatives of asthmatic patients.

Asthma can affect people of all ages, but it usually becomes apparent during childhood and has a substantial impact on the community. Australia has the highest rates of clinically diagnosed asthma worldwide.

Asthma symptoms may be mild and resolve spontaneously or after minimal treatment with asthma medication. However, symptoms may continue to get worsen, which may require hospitalisation.

Asthma is a chronic or recurrent inflammatory disorder of the bronchial airways that usually begins in childhood, occurring most frequently in ‘atopic’ individuals, who readily produce IgE antibodies to common environmental antigens and allergens. Other allergic disorders such as allergic rhinitis, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome are often present in these patients and a family history of these disorders and of ‘early onset’ asthma is common.

Commonly, asthma patients show an elevated total serum IgE level and allergy tests (skin tests and RAST) may reveal specific IgE antibodies to a variety of environmental allergens derived from organic materials, such as pollens, dustmite, cockroach, feathers, animal dander, and fungal spores. Less frequently, allergy testing shows positive reactions to ingested allergens derived from certain foods such as wheat, corn, milk, eggs, yeast, and fish, which presumably reach the bronchi via the bloodstream.

However, many patients with overt asthma do not demonstrate an allergic diathesis and many patients with frank allergic disease do not develop asthma, indicating that other non-allergic mechanisms are also involved in the development of asthma.

Asthma during pregnancy potentially can affect the foetus. Effective treatment and good control will reduce the affects. Ineffective treatment and poor control could lead to oxygen deprivation for the foetus (hypoxia), preeclampsia, growth retardation, premature birth or low birth weight.

The biological factors responsible for asthma

The biological factors responsible for asthma

Current evidence suggests that a variety of inter-related biological factors may be involved, which means that asthma is multifactorial disease. These factors:

Genetic predisposition
Many studies have reported an increased incidence of asthma in children of parents with atopic disease, with greatest risk occurring in families where both parents are affected and several gene polymorphisms have been implicated in the development of asthma. Choi et al (2000) reported “over the past five years, several studies have reported the existence of potential candidate asthma susceptibility loci on human chromosomes. Most studies have focused on identifying candidate loci on chromosome 5q31-33 and 11q13 either by linkage analysis or by association studies”.

Immunological imbalance
Contemporary research suggests that a reduced balance between Th1 CD4 T-cells and Th2 CD4 T-cells is a major contributory factor to asthma development, resulting in apparently excessive production of cytokines (IL-4, IL-5. IL-9 and IL-13) that promote IgE production, mast-cell differentiation and eosinophil growth, migration and activation, all mechanisms apparently involved in the initiation of mucosal inflammation and bronchospasm.

Researchers hypothesise that reduced IL-12 production during antigen presentation to CD4 T-cells alters T-cell activation, resulting in greater activation of the CD4 Th2 subclass and increased production of allergy-enhancing cytokines. Recent studies report that GUT-mucosal tissue macrophage antigen presentation and CD4 T-cell cytokine production are both down-regulated by increasing intake of vitamin E, omege-3-fatty acids and probiotic supplements.

Essential fatty acid imbalance
The inflammatory asthmatic response occurs in two stages. An early stage response that appears to be directly triggered by inhalation of an allergen or an atmospheric irritant and is mediated by release of vasoactive amines and cytokines, then a late phase response that appears to occur independently of direct allergen or irritant contact and is mediated by release of proinflammatory eicosanoids, prostaglandin E2 and particularly the leukotrienes B4 and C4, which combine as Slow-Release Factor and strongly promotes continued inflammation and smooth muscle spasm.

An individual’s propensity to produce unduly high levels of these chemical mediators is to a great extent governed by the dietary fatty acid balance, with high saturated fat and omega-6-fatty acid intake exacerbating mediator release in response to allergen or irritant exposure.

Recent studies confirm that dietary and nutrition manipulation of essential fatty acid balance, reducing saturated and omega-6-fatty acid intake and augmenting omega-3-fatty acid intake, substantially reduces bronchial hyper-reactivity and asthma severity and occurrence.

Early childhood infection
The contributory role of early childhood infection is unclear at present, with several studies documenting an increased prevalence of asthma following respiratory infection during infancy, particularly with Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection, while other studies indicate a protective effect from early infection. It may well be that gene-controlled immune maturity and IL-12 cytokine production determines CD4 Th sub-type activity in response to early infection.

Undue hygiene
Recent epidemiological evidence indicates that early exposure to viral infections and environmental gram-negative endotoxin promotes activation of the Th1 CD4 T-cell sub-type, enhancing production of Interferon-gamma (INF-γ) and inhibiting allergen sensitisation.

High early allergen exposure
Even though dustmite allergy is extremely common in asthma patients, particularly children, and several studies report increased asthma prevalence with early dustmite exposure, other studies report little or no causal relationship between household dustmite concentrations and asthma prevalence or severity. Similarly ambiguous causal relationships have also been reported between asthma and cockroach allergen and animal danders.

The majority of asthma patients do demonstrate sensitivity to common foods, particularly gluten, grains and dairy foods, although specific allergy tests (skin testing and RAST) frequently show no reaction. Several clinical intervention studies utilising food avoidance or oligoantigenic diets report substantial improvement in asthma incidence and severity in approximately 70-80% of asthmatic patients. It is likely that this beneficial therapeutic effect occurs secondary to GALT-mediated cytokine production and may be augmented by concomitant supplementation with vitamin E, omega-3-fatty acids and probiotics.

Atmospheric pollutants
Air pollution is a major contributory factor to the development of asthma in all age groups from infants to the elderly. The majority of studies have focused on the causal role of domestic cigarette smoke exposure and have established a significant causal role in asthma development. However, other studies have also demonstrated that atmospheric contamination with petrochemical and industrial pollutants, commonly found in urban environments, substantially contribute to asthma prevalence and severity.

Identified atmospheric pollutants include volatile organic compounds, sulphur oxides, ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and industry-derived particulate matter. The progressive development and use of a huge variety of chemicals has resulted in a substantial rise in occupational asthma and exacts a high cost from the individual and the community.

Cigarette smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers. Second-hand cigarette smoke is unhealthy for everyone, but in particular people with asthma. Whether you’re inhaling the chemicals directly from a cigarette or inhaling second-hand smoke from a burning cigarette or smoke exhaled by the smoker, the mixture of gases and fine particles is the same. Second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including 70 carcinogenic chemicals, which are chemicals known to cause cancer.

Among children, more boys have asthma than girls. But among adults, the disease affects men and women equally.

Adult-onset asthma

  • People who are at higher risk for adult-onset asthma are:
  • Women who are having hormonal changes, such as those who are pregnant or who are experiencing menopause
  • Women who take estrogen (HRT) following menopause for 10 years or longer
  • People who have just had certain viruses or illnesses, such as a cold or flu
  • People with allergies, especially to cats
  • People who are exposed to environmental irritants, such as tobacco smoke, mould, dust, feather beds, or perfume.

In summary, a number of factors are thought to increase a person’s risk for developing asthma. These factors include:

  • Having a parent or sibling (sister or brother) with asthma
  • Having another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Being overweight
  • Being a smoker
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Having a mother who smoked while pregnant
  • Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
  • Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
  • Low weight at birth
Australian facts and statistics for asthma

Australian facts and statistics for asthma

Asthma presents a significant health problem in Australia, where prevalence rates are much higher than other developed nations – reportedly the highest incidence in the world. Since 2001, the incidence of asthma declined in children and young adults but stayed the same in people 35 years of age or more.

In Australia, one in 10 people suffer from asthma, which amounts to 2 million people. During 2008-2009, 1% of all direct health expenditure was spent on asthma and 0.4% of hospitalisations were for asthma treatment. During 2010, 416 people died as a result of an asthma attack.

Aboriginal Australians show a higher incidence of asthma, particularly in adults. Asthma rates are higher in low-income groups and the socially disadvantaged.

Asthma is a major cause of disability, health expenditure and resource utilization, and poor quality of life worldwide. Australia reported the highest rate of doctor diagnosed, clinical/treated asthma, and wheezing associated with asthma. A 2012 global health study found that almost 24% of people found with clinical are smokers, half reported continued wheezing, and 20% had never been treated for asthma.

Common triggers of asthma
The many different triggers for asthma are different for different people. The most common ones are:

  • House allergens – dust mites, pollens, pets and moulds
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Viral infections, such as colds and flu
  • Weather – cold air, change in temperature, thunderstorms
  • Work allergens – wood dust, chemicals, metal salts
  • Some medications

Poor asthma control is characterised by frequent symptoms and asthma attacks (exacerbations).

What causes asthma?

What causes asthma?

Because asthma involves a complex set of biological responses that vary from patient to patient, the exact cause of asthma can’t be defined by any one trigger in isolation. Researchers have found that genetic and environmental factors interact to trigger asthma, most often early in life.

These genetic and environmental factors include:

  • An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy
  • Parents who have asthma
  • Certain respiratory infections during infancy when the immune system is immature
  • Contact with an airborne allergens during infancy
  • Exposure to a viral infection during infancy

One theory that researchers believe may contribute to an alarming increase in asthma cases is called the hygiene hypothesis. They believe that our clean lifestyle—with its emphasis on hygiene and sanitation—has resulted in a sterile play and living environment and an overall decline in childhood infections, which in the past developed a healthy immune system.

Young children in developed nations no longer have the same types of environmental exposures and infections as children did in the past, which may increase a child’s risk for atopy and asthma.

Although there’s no cure for asthma, effective asthma treatments enable most people to control their symptoms so that their asthma doesn’t interfere with daily life.

What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack occurs when symptoms, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, are worse than usual. Symptoms can come on suddenly and be mild, moderate, or severe and may require hospitalisation.

During asthma attacks, the muscles around a person’s airways contract, which narrows the airway and restricts the volume of airflow through the airway. As inflammation of the airways increases and more mucus is produced, further restriction results.

During severe attacks when not enough oxygen gets through to the lungs, vital organs are deprived of essential oxygenated blood and the patient requires urgent hospitalisation, in order to prevent hypoxia and death.

Types of asthma

Types of asthma

While asthma can be classified into different types, there is often crossover between the different types.

Allergic or extrinsic asthma is triggered by allergens, such as dust, food preservatives, mould, pet dander or pollen. Allergic asthma is more likely to be seasonal and often goes hand-in-hand with seasonal allergies, such as hay fever.

Non-allergic or extrinsic asthma is a type of asthma triggered by air-borne chemical irritants other than allergens, such as wood or cigarette smoke, air pollution, air fresheners, household cleaning products, and perfumes.

Occupational asthma is triggered by irritants and allergens in the workplace, such as animal proteins, dust, dyes, gases, fumes, and rubber latex. People working in the building, manufacturing, and textiles industries may develop occupational asthma, which is also prevalent in farming, and woodworking.

Chemicals called isocyanates are the most common cause of occupational asthma. These are found in spray painting, foam moulding using adhesives, and making foundry cores and surface coatings.

Dust from flour and other grains may affect people who work in bakeries, industrial baking, farm work, and grain transport. Wood dust may affect people working in carpentry, joinery, and sawmilling.

Dust from latex rubber may affect people manufacture or use latex gloves, such as health professionals, manicurists, dentists or laboratory technicians. Dust from insects and animals may affect veterinarians, farm workers, animal researcher and zookeepers.

Cough-variant asthma is characterised by a persistent dry cough rather than the usual symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath. Cough-variant asthma could develop into full-blown asthma at any time.

Exercise-induced asthma affects people during or after physical exercise, in the absence of the usual asthma triggers such as dust, food preservatives, mould, pet dander or pollen.

Nocturnal Asthma gets worse at night, but a person with nocturnal asthma can also experience symptoms at other times. Certain triggers, such as heartburn, pet dander, and dust mites, cause symptoms to worsen at night while sleeping.

Childhood asthma simply means asthma that starts during childhood, when asthma usually starts. During an asthma attack young children may behave differently and breathing difficulties may not be so obvious compared with older children and adults. A young child may cry more than usual, complain of a tummy ache and vomiting, become tired quickly, and become breathless more easily when running and playing, and not want food or drink.

Adult-onset asthma simply means that symptoms only become apparent during adult years, after 20 years of age. Adult-onset asthma is often occupational asthma and the symptoms can come on very suddenly.

How is asthma diagnosed?

How is asthma diagnosed?

When asthma is suspected, a health practitioner will use a stethoscope to listen to the air moving in and out of the lungs through the airways. When the airways are narrowed, as is the case with asthma, wheezing or other asthma-related sounds will be heard.

Abnormal breath sounds can indicate problems within the lungs such as obstructions, inflammation, or infection, fluid in the lungs, or asthma.

Abnormal breath sounds are described as:

  • Rhonchi – snoring sounds
  • Rales – clicking, rattling, bubbling
  • Wheezing – a high-pitched whistling sound caused by obstruction of the bronchial tubes
  • Stridor – a harsh, vibratory sound caused by obstruction of the trachea

Diagnostic tests available to confirm asthma include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Allergy testing through skin prick testing or blood tests
  • Lung function testing for peak flow measurements
  • Arterial blood gas and oxygen saturation levels in severe cases

Lung function testing measures the volume of air entering and exiting the lungs and the results are compared with a normal range for age. After baseline testing, an asthma drug is given and measurements are repeated to assess whether the volume of air improves with medication. Lung function testing is not possible in children under five years of age.

Testing may also be performed before and after a challenge test, which involves a person inhaling a suspected allergen to trigger symptoms. Testing may also be performed before and after exercise to determine whether exercise is a trigger.

Asthma is classified according to the frequency and severity of symptoms as mild, moderate, acute severe, or severe (life threatening). Heart beat rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, peak flow, breathlessness, wheezing, arterial blood gas, and oxygen saturation levels are used to determine the severity of an acute exacerbation.

How can asthma be prevented?

How can asthma be prevented?

Whether in the workplace or at home, the best form of prevention is to follow the advice given by a health practitioner, take prescribed medication as directed by a doctor, and avoid exposure to known asthma triggers.

Exposure to airborne allergens is associated with childhood asthma. Reducing a child’s exposure to dust, household dust mites, pet dander, chemicals, and moulds can reduce exposure, but whether this delays onset is unsure. Avoiding exposure will reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Based on current evidence, a clean, healthy environment free of dust, mould, pet dander, and chemicals is important. However, often well-intentioned attempts to thoroughly clean can lead to over exposure to cleaning chemicals, such as ammonia.

Learning to differentiate between cold symptoms and asthma is important in children, as colds can produce a similar chest wheeze.

Other prevention measures that have been suggested for children are contact with farm animals early in life to stimulate normal immune system development and function, and the use of probiotics to ensure adequate healthy gut flora.

Asthma that is triggered by exercise may be helped by medication or warm up exercises.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) advises:

  • Breastfeed for the first 6 months of development where possible
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy, as smoking is harmful to both mother and child.
  • Do not exposure children to cigarette smoke
  • Do not exclude foods which are potential allergy triggers from your diet while pregnant
  • Introduce solid foods from around 4–6 months of age, while still breastfeeding
  • Give one new food at a time; if a food is tolerated, continue to give this as a part of a varied diet. If there is any reaction to any food, you should avoid that food until a medical practitioner with allergy expertise should assess the child for food allergies

Conventional medical treatments doctors use to treat asthma

While asthma is an incurable condition, a person who manages treatment well can live a normal and active life.

A person with asthma needs to see a doctor to find out what triggers symptoms and how to avoid asthma triggers. A doctor will prescribe medications to help manage asthma symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Over time, a person with asthma will learn to avoid triggers, and when to take medication. Effective control will enable participation in normal everyday activities.

Asthma is part of the spectrum of disorders that includes severe reactions to food allergies and both are allergic disorders. One study of food allergy fatalities found that the vast majority of patients who died from anaphylactic shock caused by food also had asthma. The bottom line is that if a person has food allergies and asthma symptoms, an awareness of how his or her asthma might affect allergies, and vice versa, is essential.

Medications prescribed to treat asthma

Medications prescribed to treat asthma

A person diagnosed with asthma whose doctor has prescribed regular preventive and reliever therapy, in the form of inhaler medication sometimes called a puffer, needs to use the preventive treatment every day even if he or she feels well. Asthma medications don’t cure the problem and triggers can’t always be avoided, so using safe, regular medications is the best way of enjoying a healthy life with less symptoms and attacks.

Three general types of asthma medications are used in combination to treat asthma – relievers, preventers, and symptom controllers. Combination medications contain both a preventerand symptom controller.

Relievers include short-acting beta2 agonists, theophylline, and anticholinergic bronchodilators.

Relievers are fast-acting bronchodilators that relieve the symptoms of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath by relaxing the muscle around the bronchi (airways). A person with asthma needs to carry a reliever medication with them at all times.

Short-acting beta-agonists contain salbutamol and relieve symptoms within minutes and the benefits can last for up to four hours. Examples of short-acting beta-agonists are Ventolin, Asmol, Airomir, and Bricanyl.

Anticholinergic medication takes longer to act (30-60 minutes) and is more commonly used for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Atrovent is one anticholinergic bronchodilator that contains ipratropium bromide as the active ingredient.

Bronchodilators improve breathing for approximately four hours for the short-acting bronchodilators and 12 hours for the long-acting types.

Anti-inflammatory drugs control asthma and prevent asthma attacks. Inhaled corticosteroids are the most popular and effective as they reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways, making the airways less likely to react to triggers.

Preventer medications include inhaled and oral corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and anti-immunoglobulin therapy. Preventer medication is taken every day to reduce sensitivity, redness, mucus, and swelling of the airways and may take a few weeks to reach full effect. Dosage is kept to the lowest amount needed to keep asthmatic symptoms well controlled.

Inhaled corticosteroids reduce inflammation and assist with cell repair. A doctor will usually prescribe preventer medication if symptoms occur more than two to three times each and every week. Examples include Flixotide, Pulmicort, Qvar, Alvesco, Pulmicort and Cromones for exercise- and allergen-induced asthma, of a mild and infrequent nature.

Combination medications combine a preventer (corticosteroid) with a symptom controller (a long-acting beta2 agonist) to treat people who take regular inhaled corticosteroid preventer medication, but still get symptoms. Examples include Seretide and Symbicort.

Most asthma medications are safe to take during pregnancy. However, glucocorticoids could lead to neonatal adrenal insufficiency and a doctor will need to monitor this risk. Taking asthma medication during pregnancy is safer than risking an asthma attack, which could lead to foetal hypoxia.

Self-help measures for a person with asthma

Self-help measures for a person with asthma

Adhering to some simple lifestyle and self-help measures as well as taking your regular asthma medication will reduce a person’s symptoms and risk of having an asthma attack.

  • Avoid triggers
  • Stop smoking
  • Take regular exercise
  • Take control
  • Take care in cold weather
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Get flu vaccinations if you take inhaled steroids

Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoke acts as an irritant and can trigger asthma attacks. Cigarette smoking makes inhaled asthma medication less effective. As a result, larger doses of inhaled steroid medication are needed to control symptoms.

Nutritional medicine treatment for asthma

Nutritional medicine therapy for asthma focuses on changes to diet and nutritional supplementation, and aims to correct immune response and in turn airway sensitivity and reactivity. Modifications to diet in developed countries can partly explain the increase asthma incidence during the 20th Century.

Epidemiologic data demonstrates a significant association between dietary deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D and C, magnesium, selenium and asthma. Determining and eliminating allergens from the environment and diet will help alleviate the severity of chronic asthma symptoms. Populations with higher intake of pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-6 fatty acids) have a higher prevalence of asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis.

Potential allergens include food additives and preservatives, eggs, wheat, corn, sugar, peanuts, eggs, and dairy products. The fat cells stored in the body secrete cytokines and immune proteins that can contribute to inflammatory conditions, such as asthma. Research shows that when a person with asthma loses weight, his or her symptoms improve. Determining an ideal BMI and maintaining an appropriate weight will assist with asthma control.

Imbalances between oxidants and antioxidants are believed to play a fundamental role in the development of asthma and ongoing exacerbations. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole gains, nuts, and legumes will provide essential antioxidants to protect the body from the rigors of oxidation. Antioxidants preferentially react with free radicals to prevent free radicals reacting with and damaging body tissue. The oxidative stress in the 21st Century from environmental toxins is much higher than 200 years ago. Vitamins c and E, flavonoids, and polyphenols are antioxidants that defend the body against oxidative stress.

General nutritional medicine treatment steps include:

  • Ensuring an adequate medication management plan is in place
  • Identifying and eliminating, if possible, environmental and dietary allergens and irritants
  • Supporting and enhancing digestive efficacy
  • Optimising antioxidant intake including ascorbate, vitamins C and E, and bioflavonoids
  • Increasing omega-3 fatty aid and reducing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet
  • Improving EFA metabolism, and
  • Correcting bowel dysbiosis.

Specific nutrient supplementation should include vitamins B6, B3, B5 and magnesium together with immuno-modulatory and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, as indicated.

Vitamin C supplements can reduce the symptoms of asthma, in particular exercise-induced asthma. Preliminary research found that children with asthma had significantly less asthma symptoms on a vitamin C-enriched diet. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of vitamin C are well established and help keep the airways open and free of mucus.

Vitamin E is known to fight the detrimental effects of air pollution. Nutritional deficiencies in vitamin E have been linked with asthma in children and young adults.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and symptoms associated with most types of asthma, according to several medical studies, but not aspirin-induced asthma.

Choline, also called vitamin B5, acts as a methyl donor, and may help reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. Choline is found in liver, muscle meats, fish, nuts, beans, peas, spinach, wheat germ, and eggs.

Magnesium has proven brochodilating and anti-inflammatory effects and is used as an adjuvant therapy for moderate to severe asthma attack. People who have asthma often have low levels of magnesium. Intravenous magnesium can work as an emergency treatment for adult asthma attack.

Coenzyme Q10 acts as a powerful antioxidant and research shows that supplementation can reduce the dosage of corticosteroids required to control asthma. People with corticosteroid-dependent bronchial asthma have low levels of Coenzyme Q10 in their blood stream.

Lycopene and beta-carotene (vitamin A) are useful anti-oxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables that protect against inflammation in the lungs and reduce the risk of developing asthma, including exercise-induced asthma. Lycopene is a bright red carotene found in tomatoes, red capsicum, watermelons, and papaya. Beta-carotene is found in vibrantly coloured fruit and vegetables, such as carrots, apricots, green capsicum, paw paw, sweet potatoes and other vibrantly coloured fruit and vegetable are an excellent source of beta-carotene.

Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that reduces histamine release, the chemicals released during an allergic reaction. Histamines produce symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, and hives. Because of its antihistamine benefits, Quercetin has been proposed as a treatment for allergic asthma.

Simply drinking more water and avoiding caffeine can increase hydration levels. Chronic dehydration is linked to broncho-constriction. While the symptoms of most asthma patients are related to a combination of airway inflammation and broncho-constriction, drinking adequate amounts of clean water will keep normal lung mucus from becoming sticky.

A person with asthma needs to have hepatic detoxification pathways and bowel mucosal permeability assessed, in order to correct any problems identified.

Recent studies report that GUT-mucosal tissue macrophage antigen presentation and CD4 T-cell cytokine production are both down-regulated by increasing intake of vitamin E, omege-3-fatty acids and probiotic supplements.

Recent studies also confirm that dietary and nutrition manipulation of essential fatty acid balance, reducing saturated and omega-6-fatty acid intake and augmenting omega-3-fatty acid intake, substantially reduces bronchial hyper-reactivity and asthma severity and occurrence.

Several clinical intervention studies utilising food avoidance or oligoantigenic diets report substantial improvement in asthma incidence and severity in approximately 70-80% of asthmatic patients. It is likely that this beneficial therapeutic effect occurs secondary to GALT-mediated cytokine production and may be augmented by concomitant supplementation with vitamin E, omega-3-fatty acids and probiotics.

Breast feeding during the first six months of life reduces the development of atopic diseases, such as asthma, in particular in children with a family history of allergic reactions. Breast milk immunoglobulin enhances TH1/TH2 reactions along the gut mucosa and help with the maturation of intestinal flora in infants.

The use of probiotics during pregnancy or early life to enhance gut flora to prevent allergic conditions has been show to have a favourable effect in children at high risk for developing allergies. According to a recent meta-analysis study of randomised, controlled trials published during the decade to 2012, “carefully selected probiotics administered during pregnancy and early infancy may have a role in the primary prevention of atopic diseases, particularly in high-risk infants”.
Asthma comes from the Greek verb aazein, which means to pant or exhale through an open mouth. Nutritional medicine treatment can reduce inflammation, speed recovery, and reduce the amount of corticosteroid medication needed to prevent attacks.

Nutrients and foods that help prevent asthma

Nutrients and foods that help prevent asthma

Despite assertions by Nutrition Australia and the National Asthma Council Australia that dairy does not cause asthma or increased mucus production, the link between asthma and cows’ milk is familiar to many young asthma sufferers and their parents.

Eating a well-balanced diet is good for everyone, in particular for people with chronic health conditions such as asthma.

A 2007 study showed that children who grew up eating a Mediterranean diet high in nuts and fruits like grapes, apples, and tomatoes were less likely to have asthma-like symptoms.

Drinks with caffeine provide a slight amount of bronchodilation for an hour or two, but using a relief inhaler will treat symptoms more effectively for the temporary relief of asthma symptoms.


Allergen – a substance that triggers an allergic reaction
Allergy – an exaggerated response to a substance by the release of histamines
Anticholinergics or maintenance bronchodilators – relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways
Antihistamine – a medication that stops the action of histamine, which causes symptoms of allergy such as itching and swelling
Anti-inflammatory – a medication that reduces inflammation, such as swelling in the airway and mucus production
Antioxidants – a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of another molecule and protect from free radical damage
Asthma attack – when asthma symptoms suddenly worsen
Bronchodilator – a drug that relaxes the muscle bands that tighten around the airways and help clear mucus from the lungs
Bronchospasm means is a sudden constriction of the muscles in the walls of the lung airway
Chronic – long-term disease
Decongestant – a medication that shrinks swollen nasal tissues to relieve symptoms of nasal swelling, congestion, and mucus secretion
Dust mites – a common trigger for allergies
Exacerbations – flare up of symptoms also called asthma attack
Hypoxia – when the body or organ is deprived of adequate oxygen supply
Nebulizer – a device used to aid the delivery of inhaled medication, which changes liquid medicine into fine droplets
Oligoantigenic diets – least possible risk of allergic reaction used to eliminate food allergies as the cause of a particular illness.
Peak flow meter – a small hand-held device that measures how fast air comes out of the lungs when a person exhales forcefully Pet dander – the microscopic material shed from animals
Probiotics – improve the balance of normal flora in the large intestine
Puffer – another term for inhaler or metered dose inhaler
Respiratory Syncytial Virus – a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages
Rhinitis – irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose
Sinusitis – inflammation or infection of the air-filled spaces in the facial bones, the sinuses
Triggers – substances that cause asthma symptoms or make them worse
Vaccination – an injection that protects the body from a specific disease by stimulating the immune system
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, some of which cause allergic reactions. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. Adverse health effects include: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnoea, reduced serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, nose bleed, fatigue, or dizziness. (?separate section)
Wheezing – the high-pitched whistling sound caused by air moving through narrowed airways