This inflammatory, allergic condition affects the lungs and airways, and is characterised by difficulty in breathing caused by a narrowing of the airways, and frequent coughing. Attacks are often brought on by underlying allergies, stress or changes in the environment e.g. the weather. Among the most common triggers are house dust and animal hairs, but it could just as easily be second-hand smoke, household chemicals, cold air or exercise. Food allergies can also be a trigger - see below.
Asthma is often worse at night and can severely interrupt sleep, and poor sleep can lead to low growth rate in children.
Britain has the highest rate of asthma in the EU, and a staggering 8.5% of all NHS prescription costs are for asthma drugs. The drug Salbutamol is used in inhalers to relieve asthma attacks but the dose is user-dependant and possible side effects are muscle cramps, heart palpitations and an increased frequency of attacks. Many children and adults become entirely reliant on inhalers and use them day and night. Unfortunately many doctors do not discuss ways in which you can try and eliminate the triggers of asthma to reduce the need for inhalers.
The number of adults and children with asthma has increased alarmingly over the past 15 years and unfortunately there is still no cure, although there is much you can do to try and reduce the severity and frequency of attacks. A lack of vitamin E during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of a child developing asthma. Vaccinations have been shown to increase the risk of allergies such as asthma and eczema developing.
The best approach is to have an allergy test and take supplements to boost the immune system, strengthen the digestion and support the respiratory system. The stronger the immune system and the digestion are the less likely it is that allergic reactions take place:
The most important step is to eliminate the major triggers and to enable you to do this an allergy test is essential. Your doctor can refer you to the hospital to have a Skin Prick Test done. You will need to ask for this, and may even need to insist upon it. Twenty years ago it was standard practice for all newly diagnosed asthmatics, but sadly this is not the case today despite it being a cheap, quick, safe and effective technique. Small amounts of the most common allergens are pricked on to the skin on the arm and then monitored for swelling and redness which represents an allergic reaction.
If your doctor cannot, for whatever reason, refer you to have tests done then you can have allergy tests done privately. Over 200 foods and substances (chemicals, dust mites, animal fur etc) can be tested - go to www.yorktest.com or call 0800 258 2052.
The only problem with these kinds of tests is that if your asthma is triggered by something other than a food or substance they may not be comprehensive enough, unlike the other options below:
Radionics (see www.radionic.co.uk for general information) practitioners Diana and Ivan Barrett on 01604 686678 can also test for any physical and emotional imbalances within the body, as well as testing for allergies and the health of your immune system and gut, non-invasively i.e. you do not need to give a blood sample. These tests are therefore particularly ideal for children but are suitable for everyone and can be done from a distance i.e. you do not need to see them in person. Call them for more information.
The Allergy Institute recommends a diagnostic method which is simple and without discomfort. The treatment method is by way of ‘isopathic desensitisation’. Diagnosis and treatment are painless, without the side effects usually associated with conventional medicine, and are suitable for infants and children as well as adults. You can find local practitioners via their website at the link above.
Eliminating any triggers can have a profound effect on asthma.
Once your allergens are confirmed you must then take quite radical steps to remove them from your home and environment as much as possible. This can take a lot of time and effort but the results can be very rewarding, and can reduce the need or reliance on inhalers.
DIET & LIFESTYLE:
• Dust mites are the main offenders, so anything gathering dust - toys, clothes, fabric, cushions, sofas, carpets, items stored under beds, mattresses, bedding - either needs to be washed at 60°C (or over) regularly, cleaned and put away in storage boxes or cupboards, removed (carpets) or replaced (mattresses). Only absolutely essential items should be kept around the house.
• Children may need to choose their favourite soft toys and the remainder can be stored in clear boxes.
• Houses will need to be spring-cleaned from top to bottom on a regular basis.
• General cleaning and vacuuming must take place on a daily basis.
• Soft furnishings can be heat-treated to destroy dust mites.
• Wooden floors, particularly in bedrooms, and leather sofas if possible are better choices than carpets and upholstered furniture.
• If you have pets and you discover you are allergic to them they will need to be re-homed. This will be difficult but your asthma will not improve otherwise.
• Beds must be fully aired by removing duvets and blankets each day, and bedding washed at 60°C or over each week. You may wish to consider allergy bedding.
• Mattresses should have a plastic cover over them.
• For those carpets that are kept use a specialist allergy vacuum cleaner, which are widely available now.
• Follow a healthy diet and eat fresh organic food as much as possible.
• Avoid processed, ready-made foods and all junk food and drinks - most of these foods contain additives and many of these chemicals have been found to induce asthma.
• Avoid contact with chemicals as much as possible, this includes certain medicines (antibiotics have been found to cause asthma in some individuals), household cleaning products, skin care products, paints, gardening products that are not completely natural. There are natural alternatives - see Skin Care and Home Care and the websites detailed under the Natural House link above.
• We all need to exercise to become and remain healthy therefore discuss an appropriate exercise regimen with your doctor.
Homeopathy has shown excellent with asthma through the use of homeopathic remedies. To ensure that you have a correct and effective remedy however, see a professional homeopath.
Radionics - if you seem unable to obtain a diagnosis of your symptoms through conventional methods, or attempts to improve your asthma are not working, consider seeing a practitioner of radionics. Radionics is a method of sending precisely defined healing energy to people, animals or plants. It is entirely compatible with modern physics. Fundamental to radionics is the view that a living body has a subtle energy field which sustains and vitalises it. If the field is weakened, for example by stress, pollution or allergies, then eventually the physical body also becomes weak, leaving it susceptible to illness. The aim of radionics is to identify the weaknesses in this field and to correct them, and thereby alleviate or prevent physical or emotional disease.
Bio-resonance therapy - bio-resonance therapy (BRT) can be used to treat a number of ailments including irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, hay fever, arthritis and asthma. Popular in the Nineties, BRT works on the belief, as with radionics, that we have our own electromagnetic fields and unique vibrations or "oscillations". According to Rheinhold Will, a German BRT specialist, it is the physical vibrational properties of matter rather than their chemical properties, which trigger allergic responses. During BRT the exact frequency or energy field of an allergen is found using a bio-tensor, a gold-plated rod, similar to a divining rod, which senses a person's personal resonances. A Bicom machine is then programmed to convert the frequency to a mirror-image frequency, and then transmits the frequency back, a process, which is believed to kill the offending allergen permanently. It takes about 15 minutes to treat each allergen. The therapy has been practised in Germany for the past 15 years and practitioners claim to be able to detect and treat thousands of allergens, as well as vitamin and mineral imbalances and parasites.
These therapies suitable for everyone, including babies, pregnant women and the elderly.
The 'Saltpipe' is a ceramic inhaler which allows the user to inhale salt-rich air. This has shown in clinical trials to ease breathing and cleanse the respiratory system. It is a Class 1 medical device and can be used whilst using medication to reduce usage, or can be used alone to control breathing difficulties. Suitable from six years of age (or younger if able to use the device) - see Allergies
Please contact us if you need personal advice
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.