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In this video, Dr. Huntoon discusses asthma and what you need to know to support your child's health.
Click on any of the links to your right, listen to the Radio Show on How To Raise a Healthy Child, or scroll down and read the full article.
If your child has asthma, consider having a consultation with Dr. Huntoon so we can help your child get off the suppressive medications known to have side-effects.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases of children, but adults can have asthma, too. Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, but you will have asthma attacks only when something bothers your lungs.
In most cases, we don’t know what causes asthma, and we don’t know how to cure it. We know that if someone in your family has asthma you are more likely to have it.
How Can You Tell if You Have Asthma?
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a checkup, the doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night, and whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will also ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. They will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems, and they will ask questions about your home. The doctor will also ask if you have missed school or work and about any trouble you may have doing certain things.
The doctor will also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working. The doctor will use a computer with a mouthpiece to test how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath. The spirometer can measure airflow before and after you use asthma medicine.
What Is an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. The attack happens in your body’s airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. As the air moves through your lungs, the airways become smaller, like the branches of a tree are smaller than the tree trunk. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucous that your body makes clogs up the airways even more.
You can control your asthma by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack, staying away from things that cause an attack, and following your doctor’s advice. When you control your asthma:
you won’t have symptoms such as wheezing or coughing,
you’ll sleep better,
you won’t miss work or school,
you can take part in all physical activities, and
you won’t have to go to the hospital.
What Causes an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to “asthma triggers.” Your triggers can be very different from those of someone else with asthma. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you can’t avoid the triggers. Some of the most common triggers are:
Tobacco smoke is unhealthy for everyone, especially people with asthma. If you have asthma and you smoke, quit smoking.
“Secondhand smoke” is smoke created by a smoker and breathed in by a second person. Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma, people should never smoke near you, in your home, in your car, or wherever you may spend a lot of time.
Dust mites are tiny bugs that are in almost every home. If you have asthma, dust mites can trigger an asthma attack. To prevent attacks, use mattress covers and pillowcase covers to make a barrier between dust mites and yourself. Don’t use down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters. Remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom. Wash your bedding on the hottest water setting.
Outdoor air pollution can trigger an asthma attack. This pollution can come from factories, automobiles, and other sources. Pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio, television, and the Internet and check your newspaper to plan your activities for when air pollution levels will be low.
Cockroaches and their droppings can trigger an asthma attack. Get rid of cockroaches in your home by removing as many water and food sources as you can. Cockroaches are often found where food is eaten and crumbs are left behind. At least every 2 to 3 days, vacuum or sweep areas that might attract cockroaches. Use roach traps or gels to cut down on the number of cockroaches in your home.
Furry pets can trigger an asthma attack. If you think a furry pet may be causing attacks, you may want to find the pet another home. If you can’t or don’t want to find a new home for the pet, keep it out of the person with asthma’s bedroom.
Bathe pets every week and keep them outside as much as you can. People with asthma are not allergic to their pet’s fur, so trimming the pet’s fur will not help your asthma. If you have a furry pet, vacuum often. If your floors have a hard surface, such as wood or tile, damp mop them every week.
Breathing in mold can trigger an asthma attack. Get rid of mold in your home to help control your attacks. Humidity, the amount of moisture in the air, can make mold grow. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the humidity level low. Get a small tool called a hygrometer to check humidity levels and keep them as low as you can—no higher than 50%. Humidity levels change over the course of a day, so check the humidity levels more than once a day. Fix water leaks, which let mold grow behind walls and under floors.
Smoke from burning wood or other plants is made up of a mix of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing in too much of this smoke can cause an asthma attack. If you can, avoid burning wood in your home. If a wildfire is causing poor air quality in your area pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio, television, and the Internet and check your newspaper to plan your activities for when air pollution levels will be low.
Infections linked to influenza (flu), colds, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can trigger an asthma attack. Sinus infections, allergies, breathing in some chemicals, and acid reflux can also trigger attacks.
Physical exercise; some medicines; bad weather, such as thunderstorms or high humidity; breathing in cold, dry air; and some foods, food additives, and fragrances can also trigger an asthma attack.
Strong emotions can lead to very fast breathing, called hyperventilation, that can also cause an asthma attack.
Control your asthma and avoid an attack by taking your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and by staying away from things that can trigger an attack.
Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine. Some medicines can be breathed in, and some can be taken as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two types—quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help you while you are having an asthma attack.
Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.
Remember – you can control your asthma. With your healthcare provider’s help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you don’t have symptoms.
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways - the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs - to become sore and swollen. In the United States, about 20 million people have asthma. Nearly 9 million of them are children. Children have smaller airways than adults, which makes asthma especially serious for them. Children with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing, especially early in the morning or at night.
Many things can cause asthma, including
Trauma from the birthing process (natural or C-section), minor falls or injuries to the back
Misaligned vertebrae in the spine that protect the nerves to the lungs
Allergens - mold, pollen, animals
Irritants - cigarette smoke, air pollution
Weather - cold air, changes in weather
Infections - flu, common cold
When asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack.
Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms.
As with all medication, certain side-effects, both short and long-term need to be understood before beginning any medication. Discussing these with your doctor or pharmacist is important. Researching the potential for side-effects and complications is equally important before starting any medical treatment. Many times the medication becomes a life-time treatment. Consider alternative care before starting this form of treatment.
Medicines Two Choices for You
Conservative care with a Holistic Chiropractor is best before considering the medications often prescribed. This will allow you to create the best outcome and restore health before introducing harmful medications and their side-effects. Removing nerve interference between the spine and the lungs is always the best option to restoring normal function within a person.
Alternative Treatment and Hope
Treatment of asthma with chiropractic care is warranted when dealing with pinched nerves in the spine that causes the airway restriction and inflammation. These pinched nerves are the result of poor posture, heavy book bags, and other common stresses to a child’s back. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor can offer benefits, as using a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to address all the imbalances within the child with asthma. This has demonstrated positive results when sticking to a well thought-out treatment plan. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.
Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Naturopathy have also had great results as conservative treatment for children with asthma.
Asthma & Children Fact Sheet
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways with reversible episodes of obstruction, caused by an increased reaction of the airways to various stimuli. Asthma breathing problems usually happen in "episodes" or attacks but the inflammation underlying asthma is continuous.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in childhood, currently affecting an estimated 7.1 million children under 18 years; of which 4.1 million suffered from an asthma attack or episode in 2009.1
An asthma episode is a series of events that results in narrowed airways. These include: swelling of the lining, tightening of the muscle, and increased secretion of mucus in the airway. The narrowed airway is responsible for the difficulty in breathing with the familiar "wheeze".
Asthma is characterized by excessive sensitivity of the lungs to various stimuli. Triggers range from viral infections to allergies, to irritating gases and particles in the air. Each child reacts differently to the factors that may trigger asthma, including:
respiratory infections, colds
Misaligned vertebrae in the spine that protect the nerves to the lungs
allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen, mold, animal dander, feathers, dust, food, and cockroaches
exposure to cold air or sudden temperature change
Secondhand smoke can cause serious harm to children. An estimated 400,000 to one million asthmatic children have their condition worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke.2
Asthma can be a life-threatening disease if not properly managed. In 2007, 3,447 deaths were attributed to asthma. However, deaths due to asthma are rare among children. The number of deaths increases with age. In 2007, 152 children under 15 died from asthma compared to 659 adults over 85.3
Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15. Approximately 32.7 percent of all asthma hospital discharges in 2006 were in those under 15, however only 20.1% of the U.S. population was less than 15 years old.4
In 2005, there were approximately 679,000 emergency room visits were due to asthma in those under 15.5
Current asthma prevalence in children under 18 ranges from 4.6% in Idaho to 13.9% in the District of Columbia.6
Since 1999, mortality and hospitalizations due to asthma have decreased and asthma prevalence had stabilized, although it now appears to be increasing.
Spinal manipulation of the middle spine by a trained chiropractor restores normal communication and control of the respiratory system.
Asthma medications help reduce underlying inflammation in the airways and relieve or prevent airway narrowing. Control of inflammation should lead to reduction in airway sensitivity and help prevent airway obstruction.
Two classes of medications have been used to treat asthma -- anti-inflammatory agents and bronchodilators. Anti-inflammatory drugs interrupt the development of bronchial inflammation and have a preventive action. They may also modify or terminate ongoing inflammatory reactions in the airways. These agents include inhaled corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium, and other anti-inflammatory compounds. A new class of anti-inflammatory medications known as leukotriene modifiers, which work in a different way by blocking the activity of chemicals called leukotrienes that are involved in airway inflammation have recently come on the market. As with all medication, especially with children, it is wise to understand the possibility of side-effects and potential for new health concerns.
Bronchodilators act principally to dilate the airways by relaxing bronchial smooth muscle. They include beta-adrenergic agonists, methylxanthines, and anticholinergics.
The annual direct health care cost of asthma is approximately $50.1 billion; indirect costs (e.g. lost productivity) add another $5.9 billion, for a total of $56.0 billion dollars.7
Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism;8 in 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost school days in children with an asthma attack in the previous year.9
For more information on asthma, please review the Asthma Morbidity and Mortality Trend Report in the Data and Statistics section of the website at www.lung.org or call the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872).
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Advanced Alternative Medicine Center
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Dr. Richard A. Huntoon