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In this video, Dr Huntoon discusses what leads to asthma and what you need to consider.

Medication can sometimes seem like the right answer, except when it creates other problems. Wouldn't getting rid of the cause be more beneficial? Especially if there are no side-effects associated with the treatment?

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Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Also known as Bronchial asthma, Exercise-induced asthma, Pediatric asthma, and Work-related asthma

Most people with asthma have attacks separated by symptom-free periods. Some people have long-term shortness of breath with episodes of increased shortness of breath. Either wheezing or a cough may be the main symptom. Asthma attacks can last for minutes to days, and can become dangerous if the airflow is severely restricted.

Symptoms include:
- Cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production
- Pulling in of the skin between the ribs when breathing (intercostal retractions)
- Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise or activity
- Wheezing

These symptoms may:
- Come in episodes with symptom-free periods in between
- Be worse at night or in early morning
- Go away on its own
- Get better when using drugs that open the airways (bronchodilators)
- Get worse when breathing in cold air
- Get worse with exercise
- Get worse with heartburn (reflux)
- Usually begin suddenly

Emergency symptoms:
- Bluish color to the lips and face
- Decreased level of alertness, such as severe drowsiness or confusion, during an asthma attack
- Extreme difficulty breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Severe anxiety due to shortness of breath
- Sweating

Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
Abnormal breathing pattern (breathing out takes more than twice as long as breathing in)
Breathing temporarily stops
Chest pain
Tightness in the chest



Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swells. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by. In sensitive people, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in allergy-causing substances (called allergens or triggers).

Common asthma triggers include:
- Animals (pet hair or dander)
- Dust
- Changes in weather (most often cold weather)
- Chemicals in the air or in food
- Exercise
- Mold
- Pollen
- Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
- Strong emotions (stress)
- Tobacco smoke
- Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provoke asthma in some patients.
- Many people with asthma have a personal or family history of allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or eczema. Others have no history of allergies.

Traditional Medical Treatment Options and Diagnosis

Medical treatments are used by most people when suffering from asthma. As with all medication, certain side-effects are known and others are not known. It is important to consider the side-effects and to do some research into the medication being prescribed to determine if the side-effects are worse than the symptoms associated with your asthma.

There are two basic kinds of medication for treating asthma:
- Control drugs to prevent attacks
- Quick-relief drugs for use during attacks

Control drugs for asthma control your symptoms if you don't have mild asthma. You must take them every day for them to work. Take them even when you feel okay.

The most common control drugs are:
Inhaled corticosteroids (such as Asmanex, Alvesco, Qvar AeroBid, Flovent, Pulmicort) prevent symptoms by helping to keep your airways from swelling up. Long-acting beta-agonist inhalers also help prevent asthma symptoms.

Do not take long-acting beta-agonist inhaler drugs alone. These drugs are almost always used together with an inhaled steroid drug. It may be easier to use an inhaler that contains both drugs.

Other control drugs that may be used are:
- Leukotriene inhibitors (such as Singulair and Accolate)
- Omalizumab (Xolair)
- Cromolyn sodium (Intal) or nedocromil sodium (Tilade)
- Aminophylline or theophylline (rarely used anymore)

Quick-relief drugs work fast to control asthma symptoms, you take them when you are coughing, wheezing, having trouble breathing, or having an asthma attack. They are also called "rescue" drugs. They also can be used just before exercising to help prevent asthma symptoms that are caused by exercise.

Tell your doctor if you are using quick-relief medicines twice a week or more to control your asthma symptoms. Your asthma may not be under control, and your doctor may need to change your dose of daily control drugs.

Dr. Huntoon's Alternative Medical Treatment Options

The goal of medical treatment is to avoid the substances that trigger your symptoms and control airway inflammation. Similarly, working with a Holistic Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Homeopath or Naturopath, each of these providers can help develop a plan to eliminate the cause of the trigger. You and your doctor should work together as a team to develop and carry out a plan for eliminating asthma triggers and monitoring symptoms.

For information on treating asthma in children, see: My Child's Health Asthma.

Having this condition is not fun at all. Being motivated to look for non-conventional forms of treatment is natural. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor can offer benefits, as using a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to address all the causes and imbalances within the person. This has demonstrated positive results when sticking to a specific treatment plan.

Others have benefited by using Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Naturopathy when following the treatment guidelines set up by your practitioner and you. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

What to discuss with your doctor


The complications of asthma can be severe, some include:
- Death
- Decreased ability to exercise and take part in other activities
- Lack of sleep due to nighttime symptoms
- Permanent changes in the function of the lungs
- Persistent cough
- Trouble breathing that requires breathing assistance (ventilator)

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your healthcare provider if asthma symptoms develop.

Call your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room if:
- An asthma attack requires more medication than recommended
- Symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment
- You have shortness of breath while talking
- Your peak flow measurement is 50% - 80% of your personal best

Go to the emergency room if the following symptoms occur:
- Drowsiness or confusion
- Severe shortness of breath at rest
- A peak flow measurement is less than 50% of your personal best
- Severe chest pain
- Bluish color to the lips and face
- Extreme difficulty breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Severe anxiety due to shortness of breath

Signs and tests

Allergy testing may be helpful to identify allergens in people with persistent asthma.

Common allergens include:
- Cockroach allergens
- Dust mites
- Molds
- Pet dander
- Pollens
- Common respiratory irritants include:
- Fumes from burning wood or gas
- Pollution
- Tobacco smoke

The doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the lungs. Asthma-related sounds may be heard. However, lung sounds are usually normal between asthma episodes.

Tests may include:
- Arterial blood gas
- Blood tests to measure eosinophil count (a type of white blood cell) and IgE (a type of immune system protein called an immunoglobulin)
- Chest x-ray
- Lung function tests
Peak flow measurements

Quick-relief drugs include:

Short-acting bronchodilators (inhalers), such as Proventil, Ventolin, and Xopenex Your doctor might prescribe oral steroids (corticosteroids) when you have an asthma attack that is not going away. These are medicines that you take by mouth as pills, capsules, or liquid. Plan ahead. Make sure you do not run out of these medications.

A severe asthma attack requires a check-up by a doctor. You may also need a hospital stay, oxygen, breathing assistance, and medications given through a vein (IV).

Asthma Care at Home

Self-care skills that are important in taking care of your asthma are:
- Know the asthma symptoms to watch out for
- Know how to take your peak flow reading and what it means
- Keep the phone number of your child's doctor or nurse with you.
- Know which triggers make your asthma worse and what to do when this happens.

Children with asthma need a lot of support at school. They may need help from school staff to keep their asthma under control and to be able to do school activities.

Asthma action plans are written documents for anyone with asthma. An asthma action plan should include:
- A plan for taking asthma medications when your condition is stable
- A list of asthma triggers and how to avoid them
- How to recognize when your asthma is getting worse, and when to call your doctor or nurse
- A peak flow meter is a simple device to measure how quickly you can move air out of your lungs.
- It can help you see if an attack is coming, sometimes even before any symptoms appear. Peak flow measurements can help show when medication is needed, or other action needs to be taken.
- Peak flow values of 50% - 80% of a specific person's best results are a sign of a moderate asthma attack, while values below 50% are a sign of a severe attack.

Prevention and Quick Tips

Support Groups

You can often ease the stress caused by illness by joining a support group, where members share common experiences and problems. See: Asthma and allergy - support group

Expectations (prognosis)

There is no cure for asthma from a medical perspective, although symptoms sometimes improve over time. With proper self management and medical treatment, most people with asthma can lead normal lives. Being mindful of the side-effects associated with your medical treatment is important. Discussing alternative forms of care that have no side-effects is important to consider.

Working with a Holistic Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Homeopath or Naturopath, natural solutions to asthma can be instituted and the person can recover from asthma fully. This requires a commitment to the care necessary to restore normal function within the person’s respiratory system and within their body to allow for full recovery.


You can reduce asthma symptoms by avoiding known triggers and substances that irritate the airways.

Cover bedding with "allergy-proof" casings to reduce exposure to dust mites.

Remove carpets from bedrooms and vacuum regularly.

Use only unscented detergents and cleaning materials in the home.

Keep humidity levels low and fix leaks to reduce the growth of organisms such as mold.

Keep the house clean and keep food in containers and out of bedrooms -- this helps reduce the possibility of cockroaches, which can trigger asthma attacks in some people.

If a person is allergic to an animal that cannot be removed from the home, the animal should be kept out of the bedroom. Place filtering material over the heating outlets to trap animal dander. 

Eliminate tobacco smoke from the home. This is the single most important thing a family can do to help a child with asthma. Smoking outside the house is not enough. Family members and visitors who smoke outside carry smoke residue inside on their clothes and hair -- this can trigger asthma symptoms.

Persons with asthma should also avoid air pollution, industrial dusts, and other irritating fumes as much as possible.

Medicines Two Choices for You

Your Solution

Working with a Holistic Chiropractor who takes a well rounded approach to discovering and correcting all your known and unknown triggers, is warranted. By working with you to improve the functioning of your respiratory system and strengthening your immune system will greatly reduce the incidences of asthma and can eventually eliminate asthma altogether.

Developing a healthy life-style with proper guidance from your Holistic Chiropractor is the best prevention when considering how to approach your health.

When Your Health Matters

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