In the United States, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma. About 7 million of these people are children. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood.
The exact cause of asthma isn't known. Researchers think some genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma, most often early in life. These factors include:
An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy
Parents who have asthma
Certain respiratory infections during childhood
Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing
If asthma or atopy runs in your family, exposure to irritants (for example, tobacco smoke) may make your airways more reactive to substances in the air. Some factors may be more likely to cause asthma in some people than in others. Researchers continue to explore what causes asthma. One theory researchers have for what causes asthma is the "hygiene hypothesis." They believe that our Western lifestyle—with its emphasis on hygiene and sanitation—has resulted in changes in our living conditions and an overall decline in infections in early childhood. Many young children no longer have the same types of environmental exposures and infections as children did in the past. This affects the way that young children's immune systems develop during very early childhood, and it may increase their risk for atopy and asthma. This is especially true for children who have close family members with one or both of these conditions.
• Avoid triggers such as strenuous exercise, environmental allergens, strong scents, PVC fumes, mold, tobacco smoke, emotional upsets. • Identify food sensitivities. • Consider breathing exercises like the Buteyko method or the Alexander technique. • Manage weight.
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Limit sugar and avoid white flour products, soy and fried foods; avoid allergenic foods such as wheat and dairy products that can increase mucus production. • Stay well-hydrated. • Concentrate on fish and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, ground flax seeds, chia seeds and raw nuts. • Eat a phytonutrient-rich diet of unprocessed whole foods, abundant in vegetables and fruits (preferably organic) that contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Asthma and Chiropractic Care:
Many individuals with asthma have resolved to maintenance of the illness, using inhalers and medication. But chiropractic care has been shown to help improve the condition with regular treatment, and provides an alternative to these traditional therapies. Chiropractic treatment involves the realignment of the spine and therefore the nerves, which play a role in every function the body carries out. By restoring the body to its natural state of alignment, nerves can function as they should, allowing organs (namely lungs) to function as they should. In addition to bettering nerve function, chiropractic care can also benefit asthma sufferers by fixing musculoskeletal alignment problems in the ribcage and spine. In doing so, the thoracic cavity is free to expand as it should, and take in the air the body requires to live.