Childhood Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. It is a lung disease characterized by difficulty in breathing, cough with sputum and some time fever. Children with asthma typically cough, wheeze, and experience chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Asthma in children and infants is a major health problem showing steady increase in prevalence both in developing and developed countries. The incidence of childhood asthma in Asian countries varies between 5.2 percent in Taipei to 30 percent in New Zealand and 10 percent to 17 percent in other countries.

Seventy-four percent of asthma attacks in children are experienced in children less than 5 years of age and 26 percent in less than one year of age. The ratio of male and female incidence is 2:1.

*What is asthma? * Asthma is a condition where the airways become irritated and inflamed. As a result, the airways become narrower and produce extra mucus. This makes it more difficult for air to flow into and out of the lungs and causes the symptoms of asthma. Certain precipitating factors may be cause of further narrowing. This narrowing produces a unique wheezing sound during breathing.

Causes

In children, an acute asthma attack usually occurs at the time of a cough and cold caused by a viral infection. Wheezing in children is most often caused by colds rather than by asthma. When they do develop asthma, it may be due to allergic reactions to irritants, or some other triggers or stimuli like those listed below:

Irritants – dust, cigarette smoke, fumes and chemicals Allergies – to pollen, grass, medicines, animals, house dust mite, fungus or certain foods Infections – colds and flu Exercise – especially in cold, dry air Emotions – stress, laughing or crying very hard Weather

Symptoms

·         Pain or feeling of tightness in the chest

·         Agitation

·         Wheezing

·         Coughing – chronic or recurring

·         Breathlessness

Ayurvedic View

According to Ayurveda, asthma in children can be of two types:

Beeja dosha (genetic), or Sahaja (acquired).

Sahaja type of asthma is easy to treat, whereas asthma due to genetic causes (beeja dosha) wherein there is a history of asthma in the family, is difficult to treat. In some cases, it has been observed that after 8th or 9th year of age the problem disappears spontaneously. This type of asthma may have been caused due to the imbalance of kapha dosha.

Kapha is one of the three biological energies or doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) responsible for health and disease in every human being. It is a mucus like substance, which is dense, heavy, firm, stable, slow, thick, sticky, wet, clear and cold in nature. In asthma, kapha imbalanced due to various causes accumulates in the lungs and leads to blockage of bronchioles. The blocked bronchioles in turn produce symptoms of asthma.

Diet & Lifestyle Advice

·         Exposure to dusty and cold air, smoke, dust and polluted air should be avoided.

·         Drinking lukewarm water with honey is helpful.

·         To avoid ama formation, children should be given freshly prepared warm meals at regular intervals and not the junk food.

·         Heavy foods like dairy products, fried foods, pickles, cold foods, ice creams, beans and legumes should be avoided.

Home Remedies

·         Give half cup of ginger tea mixed with 2-3 crushed garlic cloves if your child is getting asthma attacks.

·         Massage the chest with warm sesame oil (5 ml) with a pinch of salt. Follow it with steam inhalation. This helps loosen the phlegm deposited in the chest.

·         Boil a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a glass of milk and add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Give it twice a day to the child to reduce frequency of asthma attacks.