Asthma is a condition which affects the small airways of the lungs. People with asthma have sensitive or 'twitchy' airways. When these sensitive airways are exposed to certain asthma triggers the airways can narrow, leading to difficulty in breathing.1
Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood. 1 in 10 Australians suffer from asthma, which equates to approximately 2 million Australians.2
How does asthma affect me?
Airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People who have asthma have inflamed airways. This makes the airways swollen and very sensitive. They tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances.
When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. In some cases, the swelling can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal; mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can narrow your airways even further.
This chain reaction can result in asthmatic symptoms.
Asthma Symptoms & Triggers
Symptoms which can occur each time the airways are inflamed include shortness of breath.
There are certain things that can set off, aggravate and intensify asthma attacks. Some common triggers are:
Changes in the weather
Dust and dust mites
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed.
Natural Prevention & Management
Asthma & Exercise
Contrary to popular belief, moderate exercise is very beneficial for asthmatics. It helps strengthen the lungs and increase blood flow and oxygen around the body.
With good asthma management, swimming, walking, cycling and team sports are all possible, and are great ways to keep active and healthy. In fact many top Olympic athletes have asthma!
Talk to your doctor first before starting any new exercise program.
Asthma & Diet
Studies suggest that a diet high in Omega 3 marine fatty acids (fish oil) may be associated with a reduction in asthma risk amongst children3. The Omega 3 in fish oil has a unique effect in blocking the inflammatory messengers which contribute to the tightening of airways.
There is also evidence that reducing dietary salt and Omega 6 fatty acids, and increasing antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce the severity of exercise-induced asthma3.
As a rule, a healthy diet is important to help maintain general health and wellbeing.
- Increase antioxidants in the diet (fresh green leafy vegetables, fruits or through herbal/mineral supplements such as Selenium or Green Tea)
- Increase Omega 3 consumption by eating more fatty fish, or taking a fish oil supplement
- Reduce salt and Omega 6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils and many processed foods)
- Some food colourings, preservatives and chemical additives can cause attacks in sensitive individuals. Limit foods with these additives and consume fresh organic foods where possible.
Asthma & Dust Mites
One of the most common triggers of asthma and allergy attacks is dust mites.
Dust mites are extremely common in Australia, and live mainly around bedding
and soft furnishings.