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ASTHMA

Symptoms
• Breathlessness that is accompanied by a characteristic wheezing.
• Tight feeling in the chest.
• In severe attacks, possible increased pulse rate and clammy sweats.
• Dry cough.
• Possible anxiety and fear.
Causes
The increase in childhood asthma in the industrialized world during the last two decades of the 20th century is attributed by many to increased levels of pollution. There is a genetic tendency, however. Asthma is believed to be an allergic reaction to house dust, dust mites, pollen, fur, feathers, or tobacco smoke. It can also be induced by drugs, caffeine withdrawal, stress, or exercise. Foods such as dairy products, wheat, nuts, oranges, chocolate, and refined carbohydrates are known triggers. Asthma is also linked to high pollen counts, atmospheric changes, domestic heating systems, and some soft-furnishing materials.
Conventional care
Asthma sufferers receive treatment plans from doctors or specially trained asthma nurses. These include daily checks on the amount of air flowing in and out of the lungs using a peak-flow meter. In acute attacks, bronchodilating drugs are needed to widen the airways. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation. These drugs are usually taken by means of an inhaler. In serious attacks, hospitalization may be required for oxygen or the use of a powered ventilator to ease breathing. Inhalers used preventatively can reduce the impact of irritants.
Homeopathic medicine
Peak-flow monitoring is necessary, whatever the treatment. Homeopathic treatment of asthma is primarily constitutional. A practitioner will be particularly interested in an individual’s food preferences, their emotional makeup, and any significant environmental factors. The choice of remedy will largely be determined by symptoms , but certain remedies have an affinity with the respiratory tract. Arsen. alb. is indicated for bronchial constriction and Antimonium tart. for bronchial congestion. Bryonia is effective for the pain caused by irritation of the pleurae; and Calc. carb. for ailments arising out of restrictions in the movement of the rib cage. Phosphorus is used for respiratory problems linked with anxiety.
For acute asthma, or to boost the immune system, the tubercular, psoric, or sycotic nosodes may be given. Other remedies include Arsen. alb., for attacks in the early hours, with chilliness, restlessness, and a desire for sips of water; Ipecac., when there is persistent nausea; or Kali. carb., for asthma between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. causing exhaustion. If the trigger is allergy, the effects of allergens can be reduced by isopathic remedies —for example, by taking a remedy made from cat fur to treat sensitivity to cats.
Lifestyle
A pharmacist can advise about eradicating dust mites. Placing a child’s soft toys in a freezer for a few hours every week will kill dust mites. Bedrooms in particular should be kept as dust-free as possible, and carpets and soft furnishings shampooed regularly. All known sources of irritation should be avoided, and smoking forbidden in the home. Asthma sufferers are advised to exercise, but must learn to control their breathing, especially during an asthma attack.
CASE HISTORY
John Carpenter, age three, had a year-long history of recurrent chest infections. Asthma had been diagnosed two months previously. His attacks developed from chesty coughs. He had taken antibiotics, bronchodilators, and corticosteroids, but had not responded to treatment or to the removal of house dust and pollens.
PERSONAL DETAILS
Described by his mother as an easy child but one that liked messes, John had been a poor sleeper as a baby, and had walked early. He tended to cry when disciplined, and was highly sensitive. He was very protective of his sister, and was a talkative little boy.
FOOD PREFERENCES
John had a very sweet tooth and a slight desire for salt. He enjoyed fatty foods and loved smoked meats.
GENERAL DETAILS
John lived with his parents and sister, and attended nursery school five mornings a week. He was part of a happy family, and there appeared to be no major stresses within it.
PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP
John was prescribed high-potency Tuberculinum. Two weeks later, he developed a wheezing cough after a cold. He was given Tuberculinum again, which made him better initially, but then he deteriorated. He was then given sodium cromoglycate, a conventional asthma drug, four times daily. He still complained of a dry, tickly cough, and was given Coccus cacti and encouraged to use salbutamol, a bronchodilator. None of a series of constitutional remedies helped. John was given corticosteroids, the long-term prospect of which concerned his mother. He was then prescribed Bacillinum as a preventative measure against colds and influenza, and advised to eliminate refined carbohydrates from his diet and to eat little and often. He developed an acute infection soon after, but responded to Phosphorus and then Sulphur, which had a very marked effect. He now takes an occasional dose of Sulphur, but is largely free of asthma and takes no conventional medication.

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