Asthma is a respiratory disease in which spasm and constriction of the bronchial passages and swelling of their mucous lining cause obstruction of breathing, often due to allergy, particularly to dust, animal fur or feathers, moulds, and pollen. Many people with allergic asthma, also called atopic or extrinsic asthma, also suffer from hay fever. Asthma in adults is less likely to be caused by allergy, and more likely to be associated with respiratory infections and emotional upsets. Non-allergic asthma is called intrinsic asthma.
The frequency and severity of asthma symptoms varies markedly from one person to another. A typical attack, which often occurs at night, begins with coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, but in some individuals a dry cough may be the only symptom. Even without treatment, attacks usually subside after a few hours, with a change to a moist cough that brings up large amounts of mucus. Attacks may recur in hours or days, or may be absent for months or even years. Status asthmaticus, a prolonged attack that persists despite treatment with drugs, is a particularly severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease, and usually requires hospitalization. Some children with asthma stop having attacks when they reach adulthood. In 2002 it was discovered that the gene ADAM33, which is present in about 40 per cent of sufferers, plays a crucial role in making the airways of the lungs highly sensitive, thus increasing the risk of asthma.
Asthma attacks can be treated or prevented by a variety of drugs. Inhalation of bronchodilator drugs, such as albuterol or terbutaline, is the usual treatment, and can bring relief within minutes. Severe attacks that do not respond to these drugs may require treatment with corticosteroids. Drugs that can prevent asthma symptoms include theophylline, which is usually taken in tablets, and cromolyn sodium, which is inhaled.
A qualified holistic practitioner looks at the whole person, not specifically the disease. A Reflexologist can aid asthma, by enabling the person to breathe more easily and freely, and preventing tension in the diaphragm area. Most asthmatics have problems because of excess mucus, which could become a breeding ground bacteria. Asthmatics and people with breathing problems need to be aware of the foods that can aggravate the problem. Excessive consumption of dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and chocolate all increase mucus levels. Smoking and drinking alcohol, particularly at night, irritates the mucus membrane lining of the epiglottis, making the tissues swell at the laryngeal entrance, which may impair the airflow to and from the lungs, again diminishing the amount of oxygen taken in.
A reflexology treatment can aid the breathing process generally by stimulating all organs in the respiratory system. The deep relaxation effect of reflexology is also important in relation to asthma as this can help reduce anxiety, which often impairs effective intake of oxygen.
Expert have found Reflexology particularly useful in easing attacks of wheazing associated with stressful situations. Working on the solar plexus and the lung reflexes has proved to be particularly helpful for my son when he has had a mild attack and his inhaler hasn't been available. Obviously it is important to be aware of the limitations of using Reflexology in an emergency situation. However, a course of regular treatment may well lead to a reduction in symptoms.