By Dr. Lisa Yang, ND
Asthma is a disease of inflammation of the airways. It affects approximately 24 million people in the United States and its the most common airway disease in children, affected an estimated 7 million children (1). It is characterized by hyperactivity to various triggers. Asthma tends to be episodic and there can be periods of low to no symptoms between exacerbations.
There are different components to asthma that makes it complex condition: there is airway inflammation, intermittent airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. When the airways react, inflammatory proteins and mucus secretion will make the airways swollen, sensitive and the muscles around the airways will tighten. Therefore narrowing the airways and making it difficult to breathe. With the decrease in airflow, the airways will respond by distending to allow for better air flow. But by doing so, this changes the mechanics of breathing and can lead to further problems if not controlled.
Symptoms may include wheezing, cough that can be present both in the day and at night, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Children who have chronic or recurrent bronchitis may have an underlying diagnosis of asthma. With exercise induced asthma, your child may only have symptoms during physical activity. He or she may complain of having difficulty keeping up in physical education class or symptoms may present itself a few minutes after completion of the exercise.
Exacerbations of asthma are often due to infection, allergen exposure (ie. house dust mites, animal allergies especially, etc), occupational and environmental exposures. Because of the multitude of different triggers for asthma it is essential to identify these causes. It is important to reduce not only the risk of worsening asthma but to also reduce the risk of developing skin symptoms like eczema and worsening of environmental and food allergies.
And so, identifying underlying allergen exposures that may be causing acute exacerbations will help to manage asthma symptoms. There are many different environmental changes that can be done to improve inhaled allergen exposure.
To name a few:
Identifying and reducing allergenic foods with the guidance of your doctor or nutritionist can help reduce total body burden and reduce skin symptoms.
There are also many nutritional supplements that can help support the tissues of the lungs, provide antioxidant support and reduce total body inflammation.
Working on these underlying factors, supporting the lung tissue and having rescue medications on hand are key to managing asthma.
If you suspect your child may have asthma, it is important to consult with your doctor.
Vital Kids Medicine, PLLC
5350 Tallman Ave NW, Suite #510
Seattle, WA 98107