( By The Yoga Institute )

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Asthma - Causes and Effects

The underlying Event in asthma is a temporary narrowing of the smaller airways in the lungs, accompanied by a swelling of the lining of the airways. Additionally, there may be secretion of sticky mucus in the airway’s caliber.

The result is a partial obstruction in the air flow-air can be inhaled but exhalation presents difficulty. The more one tries to inhale, the more the lungs get inflated with trapped air, leaving still less capacity for the nest inhalation. Thus, a vicious cycle is set up.

The cause of airway constriction is an irritation of nerve endings in the airway lining, leading to contraction of the muscles that control the diameter of the airways. In asthmatics there seems to be an increased irritability of the nerve endings and of the airways. Often patients show over-sensitivity to certain substances (allergens) in the air (dust, pollen, fumes) which then cause the so-called allergic asthma. In other cases the lack of a protective factor in the walls of the bronchial asthmatics belong to a group of patients called atopics. Such persons are characterized by a congenital or hereditary disposition to develop allergic problems which could be either rhinitis (sneezing), or eczema, or asthma.

Symptoms: Difficulty in breathing, wheezing sound: attacks are interspersed with short or long symptomless intervals.

Complications: In the long run, asthma leads to an increased tendency to other lung diseases. Risk of going into status asthmaticus also increases if an attack persists.

Treatment: Avoidance of known allergenic substances, if possible. This also applies to other irritants like dust, and smoke. There is evidence that psychic factors play an breathing role in aggravation of asthma. Yoga recommends breathing exercises along with other techniques to promote tranquility of the mind. As medical treatment, bronchodilators (tablets or aerosols) and/or corticosteroids are commonly used.

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