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May 08 2012

More Asthma Than Ever, But Why?

Category:  Health

Asthma is one of the most common diseases in the world, with as many as 300 million sufferers. We’ve all seen what an asthma attack looks like, the typical symptoms being shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Because easy, natural breathing is something everyone takes for granted, asthma is a distressing disruption. Each day you breathe a huge volume of air, from 2,100 to 2,400 gallons. Even for people who manage it well through medication and avoiding risks, there is a major psychological component. Attacks are dreaded, and a silent threat lurks with every breath.
More Asthma Than Ever, But Why?


Visualization is courtesy of TheVisualMD.com


The psychological aspect of asthma is undeniable – even to witness a severe attack makes your own breath alter – but the causal link hasn’t been proved. Ask experts and sufferers alike if high stress and emotional upset contribute to asthma, and almost everyone will say yes without being able to prove it. The fact that relief can come from practicing yoga, doing daily meditation, or training oneself in conscious breathing techniques (known as Pranayama or yogic breathing) is not disputed. Some sufferers stand by acupuncture treatments as well, even though no studies have proven its efficacy.



The picture that emerges, then, is of a disorder that mysteriously links mind and body. There is no proven cause for asthma, a fact that is underlined by the unexplained increase in cases that has occurred since 1970. Our lungs are sensitive to pollutants, yet asthma is 8-10 times more common in developed countries than in the developing world. As with the sharp rise in allergies, which is also more common in the developed world, the situation is baffling – air quality and pollutants are worse in those countries that are not affected, or less affected, by the rise in disease. (In the US, about 7% of adults and 9% of children have asthma.)



No disease can be fully understood without a cause. However, every cell in your body is intimately connected to your breath, and therefore a whole complex of factors seems to be involved. Completely healthy athletes, including 15% of those participating in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, are diagnosed with asthma in numbers two to four times higher than the general population. Yet exercise is good for increasing your lung capacity and strengthening the muscles you use to breathe.



Let’s look at the basics of the disorder, most of which are physical at this stage of medical understanding.



Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways in your lungs, tiny pockets called alveoli where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged as you breathe; there are a vast number of alveoli, about 500 million. The state of inflammation exists invisibly even when there is no visible attack. I simplest terms, when lung tissue is inflamed, oxygen can’t enter the bloodstream as easily and carbon dioxide cannot be expelled. Patients are test for lung capacity through a simple test where the amount of exhaled air is measured. The condition will be diagnosed as mild to severe in a range where the FEV (forced expiratory volume) is no worse than 80% of normal to less than 60%. In acute attacks, however, the patient may be completely unable to breathe, even with an inhaler, and death can result.



As soon as the word “inflammation” is sued, medicine faces a larger mystery. Inflammation is the immune system’s healing response to injury, a normal and necessary process. Once the pathogen has been disposed of – meaning an invasive danger to the body like a virus or bacteria – or the injury has healed, inflammation subsides. It isn’t needed anymore. But in asthma, the inflammatory response becomes self-perpetuating. Airway tissue becomes filled with immune system cells, which actively recruit other immune cells to the site. Blood flow to the affected airways increases. Mucus is released, airway tissue becomes filled with fluid and swells.



It is indisputable that this kind of inflammation represents a breakdown of the healing process. What is supposed to help the body starts to harm it. In some way, the body’s innate intelligence has made a mistake and keeps making it. The same can be said of allergies, where your immune system attacks harmless dust, pollen, and animal dander as if protecting you from a threat. My long-held position – seconded by a wide range of physicians, both mainstream and alternative – is that we must learn what causes such drastic mistakes to be made.



Unfortunately, every event in the mind-body system is connected with the body’s intelligence, and since doctors are trained to be focused only on one aspect, the physical, research results in asthma remain largely confined to physical findings, such as the following:



Triggers of asthma include indoor air pollution and allergens such as tobacco smoke, animal dander, dust mites, and mold and mildew. Outdoor triggers include irritants and allergens such as pollen, dust, air pollution, pesticides and fertilizers, and car fumes. Cold air, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and viral respiratory infections can also trigger asthma attacks. About half of asthma sufferers have allergies. Avoiding such triggers becomes a major part of managing the disorder once you develop asthma.



There are many risk factors for asthma. Some can be controlled; some can’t.



Risk factors that can be modified include



Obesity. The greater a person’s body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, the greater their risk of asthma.
Smoking
Secondhand smoke exposure
Exposure to environmental pollutants and irritants (for instance, household cleaners, industrial chemicals, dust mites, pollen, and animal dander)
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen



Risk factors that can’t be modified include



Gender. Before adolescence asthma is more common in boys, but when asthma occurs in adulthood it is more common in women.
Genetics. A tendency to develop asthma can be inherited, but environmental factors are just as important.
Having allergies
Mother smoking during pregnancy, which leads to impaired lung function in the baby
Premature birth



The symptoms of asthma vary from person to person. The four major symptoms are:



Coughing spells, usually worse after exposure to cold air
Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise or at night
Wheezing, especially when exhaling
Feelings of tightness or pain in the chest



Asthma attacks are a worsening of existing symptoms. Exposure to a trigger makes the ongoing inflammation in the lungs worse. The bands of muscle surrounding the bronchioles normally constrict in the presence of an irritant or allergen, but then they release. In asthma, they stay constricted. Edema (swelling) increases. Excessive amounts of mucus are released by the airway lining. The airways become swollen, constricted, and clogged by mucus, and both inhaling and exhaling become more difficult.



But what is considered an attack varies widely between individuals. For people who have no symptoms of asthma most of the time, an occasional coughing spell might be considered an attack. For someone with chronic symptoms, however, such as coughing and wheezing, an attack might include those symptoms along with new ones, like chest pain and shortness of breath.



A very severe asthma attack can come on over a period of hours or become serious in only a matter of minutes. These attacks are very dangerous because very little air moves in and out of the lungs, and the airways don’t open in response to bronchodilators. Emergency treatment is required.



Asthma control has made considerable advances, which is why, even though incurable, asthma is successfully controlled in various ways.



Medications. There are two main types of asthma medication: quick-relief medications (bronchodilators), used before exercise or when you are having an attack, and maintenance medications, used even when symptoms are not present in order to keep inflammation under control.

Monitoring. By monitoring symptoms and keeping track of when they occur, you can understand what triggers your attacks. Using a peak flow meter, you can find out when your lung function is getting worse and take action.

Trigger avoidance. Once you’ve found out what triggers attacks, you can take steps to avoid or eliminate the triggers. For instance, if you are allergic to dust mites, you can encase your pillows in mite-proof covers. If pollen is a trigger, you may want to avoid exercising outside when levels are high.



Exercise. Some people with asthma avoid exercising because they fear exercise-induced asthma (EIA), but this is a mistake. Exercise strengthens your breathing muscles and increases your lung capacity, as we discussed. To minimize the risk of EIA,



Take maintenance medications regularly if they have been prescribed for you



Use bronchodilators before exercising



Warm up before you begin exercising and cool down afterwards



Wear a scarf or mask over your face if you exercise outdoors in cold weather



So far, no treatment for asthma without medication has proved successful. Complementary treatments like meditation, stress management, and yoga are used in addition to your regular medication—they are not alternatives.



Even so, I feel that the conquest of asthma, along with associated disorders where the immune system makes drastic, sometimes lethal mistakes, depends on understanding the innate intelligence in every cell. Intelligence has physical markers that everyone agrees upon, such as the brain, but we now know that no part of the body lacks a kind of supreme intelligence. Right now medicine is only beginning to comprehend what this intelligence is and how we control it – or it controls us. When we put much more effort into expanding our knowledge, I’m confident that the breakdown of the body’s intelligence will be repaired by that same intelligence.

Top comments

  • Our livers are becoming plugged up with all the toxins. That is why we are becoming more sensitive and more reactive or allergic. When we are stressed, tense and are plugged up our tolerence drops. I am surprised Chopra did not mention this Ayurvedic view. We need to eat more bitter vegies to clean our livers. However the western diet has practicall­y no bitter vegies like Asian diets do. Try bitter melon, brussel sprouts, etc.

    FlowSoma // 2011-10-27 13:30:28 // //
  • Environmen­t=Human Health.

    Lesscancer // 2011-10-27 13:29:11 // //

 

 

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  • I really feel asthma is of high-vibrational beings who are unable to expropriate all the veins of prana in this low-dimensional world. I often have attacks during meditation and intense spiritual clearings - there is definitely something deeply mysterious about asthma, and I have many curious and tantalizing perceptions about things like some kind of memories being stored in the aveoli which are not accidentally arranged, like the structure of the aveoli is no accident and in some way reflects the spiritual dimension in an astonishingly exact way, to our earth-minds. I`m not sure if all this is just the hum of speculation or if it is real, but there`s definitely something about asthma that indicates its relevance to the acquarian age to me.

    Aaron Asphar // 2014-02-21 00:48:51 // //
  • Do you really think people in developing countries are exposed to more pollutants? I should say it is the opposite: junk and other over processed food, flimsy and toxic building materials, excess of dubious vaccines, fuel fumes, cell phones, chemical waste disposed in irresponsible ways, etc., etc. That is the reality in at least some developed countries, like the U.S. Not to mention the incredible levels of stress most people is submitted to.

    Xóchitl // 2014-02-12 11:47:34 // //
  • Home remedies are indeed helpful, but being an asthma patient I would also recommend doing some exercises. Staying in good health provides better resistance from asthma episodes. However, don`t overdo or force your body beyond its limit. Begin with light exercises. combivent inhaler online

    asim // 2013-07-10 06:07:13 // //
  • Asthma is caused by tightness of the respiratory muscle.This happens when Our body muscle contract when it is cold .When we face cold weather ,we contrct inwards out of fear of cold feeling.So musles ,inclding respiratory muscle contract.So inner lining of nose releases fluid ,which accumulates in respiratory system ,calle mucus.that prevents smooth flow of air. The path is just be aware of nasal channel. Feel it ,congestion will go away. If not successful , you may contact me . You may visit my website www.heal-your-pain.com. No charges. Just join me by skype system or send photo.

    Bibhuti Mishra // 2013-05-08 11:55:28 // //
  • i had take zyflo for my asthma

    www.zyflo.net // 2012-07-08 12:06:53 // //
  • Thank you for all that you write.

    audreydavis@olderladybug // 2012-07-04 18:05:35 // //
  • I became asthmatic after an emotional crisis at 38 yrs old. I started to comfort myself with sugary foods ect. I read in Louise Hay`s book about the mental cause related to asthma,. this really help me to heal I also eliminated junk foods, I started my yoga practice,worked on my lack of self-love issues now I am breathing freely at 67 years. Thanks to source of our being.

    vella // 2012-06-10 00:18:32 // //
  • Don`t forget about gluten. Elimination of it from diet will make a huge difference.

    Sam // 2012-05-17 20:35:25 // //
  • I have had success and am continuing to take Boswellia Serrata (powder in capsule form) for my breathing problems, and have noticed a drastic lessening in the coughing. It is not expensive (natural anti-inflammatory) and I hope to have further positive results. Has anyone else tried this? With what results? I would love to know.

    Elizabeth // 2012-05-11 03:48:37 // //
  • As the mother of a child who has suffered and faced near death because of his Asthma, I`m thankful everyday that the advances in medicine are such that my son can still be with us. Without them he would have left us before the age of two. I`ve stopped looking for answers to why, but always look for ways to ensure he lives comfortably. There is no question that the use of pesticides and chemicals in the home is part of the problem where controlling symptoms is concerned. It may not be the only cause, but I have no doubt we have altered the global environment and are seeing the affects of that.

    DeannaT // 2012-05-10 13:10:54 // //
  • creo que es porque nos hemos olvidado de como respirar apropiadamente...

    Rogelia Isabel // 2012-05-09 17:25:30 // //
  • I agree with all of the above... air born chemicals and those in our food and water, cortisone creams, 2nd hand smoke, stress... all cause it. The medications only serve to keep your bronchioles from closing completely and modulating your lung capacity but they also gave me less lung capacity in general. I had asthma as a child and up until the age of 28 when I could have died having of an asthma attack. I didn`t have health insurance at the time so it was a wake up call... die or change your life and get rid of this disease! I moved to southern California, changed my diet and exercise, got the chemicals OUT, embraced stress reduction techniques and cured myself in 8 mths. Oh, I took off 50 lbs in the process. If we want to get rid of asthma, we need to clean up the environment, both inside and out.

    Heather Connor // 2012-05-09 12:37:17 // //
  • The human body suffers with the modern world and the greater number of chemistry substances used by industry.

    Eleni Solange Lima // 2012-05-09 09:40:16 // //
  • Please do not avoid the subject of aerosol operations, the blatant chemical trails in the skies worldwide and their contents: heavy metals, nano particles... that saturate the air.

    Aaron Dereck // 2012-05-09 09:13:10 // //
  • People have been cured by Accupunture, and Natural remedies.

    Aaron Dereck // 2012-05-09 09:10:32 // //
  • The inflammation is found to begin in the sinuses, what say you?

    Aaron Dereck // 2012-05-09 09:07:33 // //
  • Why no mention of emotion, stress & trauma, nor the heart chakra?

    Aaron Dereck // 2012-05-09 08:27:11 // //
  • It`s a complex `dis-ease`.... and effects everyone differently. Some (if not many) are triggered by their diet (especially the non IgE reactions... primarily the IgA and IgG`s), how they breathe (which is actually very, very important), and how they process (as opposed to repress) stress. Also, environmental factors (which can also include drug reactions, pollution, and cigarette smoke). It is interesting to note that the morbidity and mortality rate have continued to rise as well, despite the advances in Pharmaceutical drugs. I think one of the most powerful thing a person with asthma can do is increase their awareness of this disease, and the many non- pharmaceutical options that are available as well. Optimally, you want to prevent this from occurring. Identifying your triggers is an important step. Thanks for the info. Dr. Chopra.

    Shelly Atwood // 2012-05-09 03:07:25 // //
  • Chemtrails

    Charlene Lofgreen // 2012-05-09 02:33:05 // //
  • I truley believe that asthma is as much psychological as it is physical. A few years ago I was diagnosed with asthma after a stressful period. Asthma runs in my family. Anyways the stess eventually passed but the asthma did not. I was coughing all the time and my medication didn`t always work. I went on prednisone therapy twice. I was sick of it so after a while I decided to practice some deep breathing and convinced myself that I was not ill and had perfect health. I repeated this to myself every night for a few weeks " I have perfect health , everything is as it should be " . I never let the thought of asthma enter my head even when I had to use my inhalers. Soon my inhaler use was becoming less frequent because I did not need them as much and within a few months I was inhaler free. I have not had to use any puffers since then. I believe we have the ability to heal oursleves and that a huge part of any disease is in the mind and how we precieve our reality.

    Airatak // 2012-05-09 01:25:32 // //
  • Children breathing in second hand smoke!!

    Kate Green // 2012-05-08 23:30:22 // //
  • My naturopath told me to stop consuming all dairy products and my asthma went away. :)

    Jessica Timbrell // 2012-05-08 22:59:44 // //
  • My Dad cured himself by drinking 1 grapefruit each morning! True story

    Veronica Carranza // 2012-05-08 22:49:51 // //
  • Institutionalized racism is behind most asthma.

    Mermaid Intherudder // 2012-05-08 22:48:16 // //
  • useful!!! thanx, my little girl has asthma =( and she likes to dance.

    Socorro Alvarez // 2012-05-08 22:46:49 // //
  • I have chronic asthma, and I do find that stress really affects mine negatively. However, I also notice that even the medicines (Flovent, Advair, etc.) sometimes make me feel worse. So, I try not to take them more than once a day when it`s very humid or very cold outside, and I will try not to do too much strenuous activities, like lifting, etc. I have tried drinking apple cider vinegar in water helped with my asthma before and it seemed to alleviate my asthma attacks a lot.

    Melanie Clark Galindo // 2012-05-08 22:42:39 // //
  • Interesting viewpoint.

    Erena DiGonis // 2012-05-08 22:41:41 // //
  • my asthma was "cured" by Dr Mao, from the Tao of wellness, Iv been clear for 7 years, acupuncture worked for me

    Lisa Bromiley // 2012-05-08 22:36:07 // //
  • My husband "cured" his asthma by supplementing with magnesium daily.

    Pam Howe // 2012-05-08 22:16:38 // //
  • if you have asthma, or you know somebody has, this is a good video

    Ingrid Smith // 2012-04-18 08:52:42 // //
  • And more liver ideas - the western diet is precluding vitamin A more and more (don`t eat too many eggs, vit a is toxic etcera). As Weston A Price foundation suggests - support the liver with the saturated fat it needs (organic butter) and take good quality cod liver oil (vitamin a - fat soluble vitamin). I can imagine alot of asthma disappearing when the body has adequate vitamin a stores. If Weston A Price was right - vitamin a is a precursor to all other vitamins and minerals - its the first building block of good health.

    Cath // 2012-04-18 04:10:47 // //
  • Humans are very intelligent.However,the ability to unlock the secrets of the mind is only in it`s infancy.I recall a piece I read as a young person in which an Indian had his first contact w/ a white person. The white man drew a large circle in the sand and said that is what the white man knows. The Indian pondered this for a time and then drew an enormous circle in the sand and stated that`s what no human knows. I find this example analogous to where most humans are at in their thinking processes.Your vision must not be narrowed,and it would be wise to remember that the body is an amazingly adaptable mechanism designed to achieve the goals set up by the mind.

    @Jeff11Bravo // 2012-04-18 01:48:10 // //
  • I have lived with asthma for as long as I can remember..I think its all autoimmune..I learned how to bring myself down by breathing and not to panic when a attack is going on.It is very scary...

    Patricia Gogol // 2012-04-18 00:29:09 // //
  • My Mom taught me so many things about life..via Deepak, her favorite guy!

    Nicole Joslin Luchini // 2012-04-18 00:16:38 // //
  • The reason I feel this way is..My son can be in a full blown coughing spasm and I can calm him down through breathing with him, rubbing his back and having him follow my touch, talking and getting his mind away...

    Nicole Joslin Luchini // 2012-04-18 00:12:34 // //
  • Asthma is the result of holding in emotions (physical manifestation of emotional challenges). Mindbody signals are "symptoms". Asthma is real. It is physical. It`s also emotional. Not Either / Or but both.

    Brian Alman // 2012-04-18 00:07:41 // //
  • interesting take.

    Jim Tighe // 2012-04-18 00:04:02 // //
  • I`ve learned just by being in the here and now..with my son. Now, it`s more an emotional thing.

    Nicole Joslin Luchini // 2012-04-18 00:03:08 // //
  • polution

    Shourya Rashmi // 2012-04-17 23:54:51 // //
  • Yeah the diet is a big factor. Wheat and dairy limited. Increase veggies. try vitamins, minerals and herbs. These have helped me lots plus practising a spiritual life.

    hoo hoo // 2012-04-17 18:21:38 // //
  • I have seen reports connecting asthma to childhood vaccine related effects .

    Ron 808 // 2012-04-17 05:50:44 // //
  • The practice of Yoga cures Asthma, ones own personal asthma and the asthma that the Earth is experiencing. So in other words, it`s our civil duty to practice Yoga :)

    Deborah Hunt // 2012-04-17 04:39:02 // //
  • Pollution

    Nikki A Os // 2012-04-17 03:29:07 // //
  • Foods also exacerbate attacks. Particularly those containing gluten, wheat, dairy and soy. A significant increase in the number of sufferers in the developed world, goes along with a significant increase in these inflammatory foods. Let`s not forget how important what you put into your body can be in easing acute attacks and symptoms of asthma. Supporting the immune system is important too. Inhaled (and other) corticosteroids play a massive role in immune dysfunction and inflammation within the body. Good immune building and anti-inflammatory foods with vitamins A, C, E, biflavonoids, CoQ10, quercetin, zinc, selenium and iron (to name but a few)are equally as important as an asthmatics inhaler. Peace and love to all

    Smittysorganic // 2012-04-17 02:25:01 // //
  • i think i need to watch this I have one

    Abby Bautista // 2012-04-17 00:01:19 // //
  • Asthma (and allergies) occurs as a result of an anti-parasitic response that occurs in the airway in the absence of parasites. It appears to be an immunologic mistake present primarily in people who no longer have exposure to worms and parasites.

    tbreal68 // 2011-11-10 15:19:48 // //
  • I agree! Also want to add that there are blood tests for food allergies, often it is the food allergies that are causing the inflammati­on which leads to asthma. But at the root of most of this is deteriorat­ion of the whole food chain caused by corporate industrial farming and now use of GMO crops.

    Paula Bard // 2011-10-27 13:32:45 // //
  • Our livers are becoming plugged up with all the toxins. That is why we are becoming more sensitive and more reactive or allergic. When we are stressed, tense and are plugged up our tolerence drops. I am surprised Chopra did not mention this Ayurvedic view. We need to eat more bitter vegies to clean our livers. However the western diet has practicall­y no bitter vegies like Asian diets do. Try bitter melon, brussel sprouts, etc.

    FlowSoma // 2011-10-27 13:30:28 // //
  • America loves rugs and perfume. Perfume factories are filthy places and perfume is made by rotting organic matter. Rugs harbor mold and mites. The yeast in bread can cause an attack and the government has been pushing whole wheat bread. On another note bed bugs also love perfume and especially rugs. Floors that are waxed are anti-bed bug because a bed bug has feet designed to walk on fabric. The bed bugs cause an emotional disturbanc­e in some people which can bring on an asthma attack in sensitive individual­s.

    dpgaff // 2011-10-27 13:29:58 // //
  • Environmen­t=Human Health.

    Lesscancer // 2011-10-27 13:29:11 // //