Asthma

Asthma is caused by spasms of the bronchial passages restricting the flow of air in and out of the lungs. The bronchi are chronically inflamed and hypersensitive. Asthmatic attacks can be triggered by allergens such as food, tobacco smoke, pet hair, or chemicals; or by stress, viral infection, physical exertion, or inhaling cold air. The body also releases histamines in reaction to an allergen which results in coughing and further constricting of the bronchial muscles.

Treatment involves managing acute attacks and long-term prevention and control. In acute attacks, the herbs ephedra and lobelia have been used. Caffeine can help prevent asthmatic attacks; up to three cups of coffee a day have a bron-chodilating effect relaxing the bronchial muscles. Finding and eliminating allergens is important. Some allergic reactions may not occur for a day or more after exposure to an allergen. Milk, besides being a possible allergen, contains a protein that causes an increase in mucus secretion. In asthmatics, airways in the lungs become clogged with mucus and other secretions. Other possible allergens are food additives, eggs, colas, nuts, chocolate, and MSG. Meat and dairy products contain fats that are inflammatory. Regular exercise expands lung capacity and strengthens the heart. Ionized air can help counteract allergenic reac tions. Drinking plenty of water keeps the respiratory tract secretions in a fluid condition.

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