Learn about the causes of Asthma & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Asthma within New Zealand.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs whereby the airways become inflamed and swollen leading to difficulty in breathing. The airways (known as the bronchi) of an asthma sufferer are sensitive to certain substances such as dust mites, pollen, animal fur, cold air and smoke. These substances trigger irritation in the bronchi causing a narrowing of the airways and an increase in sticky mucus production.
Causes of asthma
Asthma is caused by a number of contributory factors including genetic
predisposition, environment and diet. People with a family history of
asthma are more likely to develop the condition. A child who has one
parent with asthma doubles their chances of developing asthma than a
child whose parents don't have it. Other allergic reactions such as
eczema or hay fever are risk factors to the development of asthma.
Premature birth or a low-weight at birth increases the chances of a
child developing asthma as does the mother smoking during her pregnancy
or exposing the child to smoke after birth.
Asthma attacks and the symptoms associated with asthma are triggered by external factors. Viruses from bacteria, fungi or parasites can cause infections in the chest and airways (respiratory infections) leading to asthma episodes. Dust, pollen and animal fur allergens can trigger asthma as can tobacco smoke, pollution and chemicals present in the air. Certain medicines can trigger asthma particularly the anti-inflammatory painkillers aspirin and ibuprofen. Drugs used for high blood pressure (beta-blockers) trigger asthma symptoms.
Certain foods and drink that contain high levels of sulphites such as processed foods, shrimp, beer and wine trigger asthma. Cold weather is another contributory factor to an asthma attack as are emotional factors such as stress or laughing.
Symptoms of asthma
Asthma symptoms begin when the body's immune system detects an
infection in the airways and releases white blood cells to the area.
These white blood cells cause the airways to become inflamed and fill
with mucus. This process in asthma sufferers is overly sensitive and
the swelling reaches a point where breathing becomes difficult.
Typically, asthma symptoms include tight chest, gasping, wheezing and
coughing. Severe asthma attacks can cause the pulse to increase, the
lips and finger nails to turn blue, skin around the chest and neck to
tighten and the nostrils to flare.
Asthma symptoms vary and can develop quickly or over a longer period (6-48 hours in some cases). Asthma can be worse during or after exercise or at night. If untreated, airways can become completely blocked and breathing stops resulting in death.
Asthma symptoms are usually only present at the time of an asthma
attack and so diagnosis should be undertaken by a GP. A GP will ask
about family history, allergies, medications and working environment to
determine a history of the condition and identify a common trigger of
the asthma attack. Breathing rate and the presence of wheezing are also
good indicators to asthma.
The most popular way to diagnose asthma is by a peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) test. The test involves breathing into a small device that determines the amount of air the lungs can breathe out. Anti-asthma medicine is then given and a second reading taken. If the second result is higher diagnosis of asthma is confirmed. Should there be additional symptoms then a chest x-ray is carried out to rule out other respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis or lung cancer.
Natural Health Options:
Clinical practice shows that Buteyko is effective for a wide range of breathing disorders including asthma as many common issues can be linked to incorrect breathing. Buteyko is a clinically proven technique that delivers immediate and sustained relief from breathing-related problems. It is drug free and can be practised by children and adults.