Asthma is diagnosed by the doctor asking for a complete history on symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, periods of chest tightness, colds that took more than 10 days to get over, as well as asking about family history and what things seem to trigger the symptoms or make them worse. The doctor will listen to the lungs and also do a test called Spirometry which checks the airways. This test measures how much air and how fast air can be blown out of the lungs after taking a deep breath. The results of the test will be lower than normal if the lungs are inflamed and narrowed or if the muscles in the lungs are tight after the test is completed. Medicine may be given during the test to see if lung function improves.
When a person with normal functioning lungs breathes, the airways are unrestricted and open. There is nothing irritating them, so the air is able to flow freely. A person with asthma has more difficulty breathing because the airways are swollen and sensitive. When a trigger is exposed (such as animal dander, cigarette smoke, colder weather, dust, chemicals, etc), the airway reacts and the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airway and causes less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling can get worse, making it even harder to breathe. The airways then fill with mucus and air cannot leave the lungs.
A person may experience breathlessness, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing as they are trying to force air out of the lungs. Medicines that can provide short term emergency relief are called bronchodilator inhalers - such as Albuterol or Ventolin. A bronchodilator is a substance that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles which decreases the resistance in the airways and increases airflow to the lungs. This is only short term relief. Long term relief will come in the form of medicines such as corticosteroids, which reduce the swelling of the airways and makes asthma attacks less likely to occur.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, asthma is called “"xiao chuan", which means wheezing and difficulty breathing. They are both two different symptoms and have two different treatments. It is believed to be caused by deficiencies in the lungs, spleen and kidney from birth or from living an unhealthy lifestyle along. In someone with a family history of asthma there is more kidney organ weakness. With others that have a diagnosis of asthma, they also have digestion problems which can include ear infections, upper respiratory infections and asthma.
The production and storage of phlegm in the lungs is from stagnation of water circulation, which is caused by the imbalance of yin and yang in the lungs, spleen and/or kidneys. Excess phlegm in the lungs is the main cause for asthma attacks. Diet, emotional disturbances, illness, external pathogenic factors (such as cigarette smoke, pollen, etc) as well as heat and cold can be triggers for an asthma attack as well.
There are four patterns of asthma. They are cold type, hot type, lung & spleen Qi deficiency type, and kidney deficiency type.
Treatments for these are the use of herbs taken orally, food therapy (specific recipes that are eaten for each type of pattern), auriculotherapy, cupping and acupuncture, with the preferred points being LU-5 through LU-9 for asthma treatments. Intense exercise is not recommended as exercise should be performed at a slower pace, such as with Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong.
Massage is also very beneficial to asthmatics, since it increases pulmonary function. It is contraindicated when the client is experiencing symptoms of an asthma attack.Good asthma control can prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, reduce the need for quick relief medicines, help maintain good lung function, maintain a normal activity level, and prevent serious asthma attacks. Avoiding triggers or anything that can worsen asthma is important. Knowing the normal range for peak flow meter readings (a device that shows how well the air is moving out of a person’s lungs) and recording them, is also helpful. Doing these activities along with a healthy diet, can help people with asthma live normal, active, healthy lives.
Ginger Rice Soup: (Cold Type Asthma)
Fresh ginger: 9 grams Cut into very small pieces.
Apricot kernel: 6
Sweet rice: 50 grams
Cook sweet rice and apricot kernels together in water at low temperature; when the rice is very soft, the soup is done. Add ginger to the boiling soup before serving.
Take as breakfast and part of dinner.
Single herbal tea: (Hot Type Asthma)
Kuan dong hua (Coltsfoot Flower) or Kuan dong ye (leaves): one teaspoon –Boil in one cup of water for 30 minutes. Add a little honey to taste.
Niu xin cao: (Cyathula Officinalis): mix one teaspoon with one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink as tea with honey.
White Fungus Mushroom Soup: (Asthma w/Lung & Spleen Deficiency)
White fungus mushroom: soak in warm water for 30 minutes, then tear it into small pieces
Rock sugar: 60 grams
Chicken egg: one (egg white only)
First, cook the mushroom and sugar in water until the mushroom is soft, then filter the mushroom out while the soup is still boiling. Gradually add the egg white into the soup, stirring the soup at the same time. Then serve.