IntroductionAlmost everyone, at some time or the other, suffers from cold, a running nose, blocked nostrils, heaviness in the head and other common respiratory tract problems. By taking care of these acute respiratory problems/infections early, one could prevent more serious respiratory tract illnesses such as bronchitis, bronchial asthma, emphysema etc.
Allergic RhinitisWatery nasal discharge, sneezing, itching of eyes and nose, and an increased eosinophil count in the blood are common features of Allergic Rhinitis. Like the common cold, it is self–limiting (does not run a long course in one episode) in nature.
TreatmentThe body’s immunity (resistance) is to be improved by cleansing the internal system with a short fast of 3 days or till the symptoms last, along with regular warm water enema early in the morning.
- Warm salt water or warm honey water gargling frequently soothes the throat.
- Drinking plenty of warm water with honey and ginger or tulsi water with honey causes counter irritation providing relief from sore throat.
- Hot foot arm bath, which relieves congestion in the head region, provides relief from heaviness in the head and other symptoms of cold.
- Generally, secretions of the nasal passages are slightly acidic, but during cold they become alkaline. Their acidity can be maintained by inhaling steam. Eucalyptus oil or camphor can be added to the water, which is used for this purpose.
- Throat pack at night till symptoms of sore throat persist is also an effective measure.
- Steam/sauna bath twice a week facilitates elimination.
- Jalaneti and Sutraneti help clear nasal secretions opening the nasal passages.
- To prevent frequent attacks of cold/rhinitis one should regularly take adequate quantities of Vitamin C, which improves one’s resistance. Citrus fruit juices, such as lemon, orange sweet lime and Indian gooseberries are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Fruits such as guava have also fair sources of Vitamin C.
AsthmaThere are two types of asthma patients – those who would like to know everything about asthma and the others who are irresponsibly ignorant about it. A patient who is not properly informed about the disease and its consequences has a poor prognosis.
Asthma occurs in the form of attacks of coughing, wheezing and breathlessness and is completely reversible. The duration of attack varies. Sometimes it occurs during certain seasons or with seasonal changes or might even persist throughout the year.
The specific cause of asthma is not known. It is observed that asthma begins in childhood in a majority of cases, and in most bronchial asthma sufferers there will be a family history of the allergy. The allergy may manifest itself as rhinitis, eczema or urticarial rash or asthma. If both parents suffer from some from of allergy, the chances of their child developing asthma at a young age is greater.
In some cases asthma starts at a later age and are often not associated with a specific allergic or triggering factors. Longstanding cases of bronchial asthma may result in many complications, especially if inadequately treated.
Emphysema, a permanent destruction of alveolar air spaces resulting in reduced elastic recoil of lungs, is the commonest complication. Cor pulmonale, where the heart is also involved, is another complication.
Children face the problem of stunted growth and are more prone to rib fractures. Most patients with bronchial asthma can adjust very well and continue to lead a normal life if early indications of asthma attack are taken care of and treated. Hence thorough education of the patient about the disease goes a long way in the treatment of asthma.
Treatment of bronchial asthma in an impending attack
- Not to panic, for anxiety will accentuate the attack.
- Rest and relaxation: Sit down in a chair for 10 minutes as resting helps lungs relax. Breathe slowly taking small puffs of air through pursed lips.
- One should take rest in a warm, well–ventilated room.
- Bedclothes should be warm.
- Patient should be supported by pillows in a semi–recumbent or upright position.
- Fasting with vegetable soup and hot honey water is helpful.
- Take an enema, as emptying of bowels will relieve pressure on the lungs.
- Plenty of warm liquids relax the air passages by fomenting the wind pipe (which is in front of the food pipe). Liquids also thin the mucus and replace the water lost during forced breathing.
- Gentle spinal massage followed by hot fomentation to back and neutral chest pack help relax bronchial muscles. Hot fomentation softens the mucus and chest pack and relieves congestion in the lungs.
- Try exhaling forcefully through a drinking straw inserted into a large bottle of water. The resistance of the water will force the expansion of bronchial tubes by creating positive pressure in the lungs.
- Facial steam will clear upper respiratory secretions.
- Hot foot bath relieves congestion by diverting blood flow to the limbs.
Long Term Treatment of Acute Bronchitis/Chronic Bronchitis/Bronchial Asthma.Besides the above–mentioned measures, the following are also to be adopted
- Treat fever by means of sponge baths frequently, chest packs at night and friction baths.
- The patient should refrain from smoking.
- Chest packs must be used every night.
- Practice of Jalaneti and Sutraneti as and when required keeps upper respiratory passages clear. Pranayama and asanas to prevent lung congestion should be practiced under the guidance of an expert teacher.
- Neutral half baths with Epsom salt which divert blood to the periphery, relieving lung congestion, could be employed frequently with advantage.
- Asthma bath once a week/15 days is useful is relieving congestion and increase in oxygen consumption.
- Neutral underwater massage, neutral jet massage and whirlpool bath provide relaxation by action on the muscles at the spinal region.
- A fat–free diet needs to be adopted.
- Pranayama and Kriyas help build resistance of the lung and upper respiratory tract, besides clearing them.
Inflammation of the bronchioles (small air passages or tubes in the lung) due to untreated upper respiratory infection could result in Acute Bronchitis. This causes cough with sputum, sore throat, low degree fever and heaviness in the chest.
It is often termed as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It is a progressive disease affecting the mucus membrane of the bronchi. For many, bronchitis is the result of long exposure to irritants like cotton dust, silica, smoking, recurrent viral or bacterial infection (as in recurrent acute bronchitis) and changes in temperature.
Initially, the patient will have more problems only during winter with cough, sputum, breathlessness and a feeling of tightness in the chest. This gradually increases in severity and duration resulting in persistent cough with a large quantity of sputum. The sputum will be more in the morning. Occasionally wheezing occurs along with the feeling of tightness. The sputum is a thick, sticky (mucoid) thread–like substance and may be yellow if infection is also present.
Common ColdIt is an exceedingly common respiratory infection. It is due to a virus which multiplies fast in a person whose vitality is low. The cold is, in fact, nature’s simplest mechanism of eliminating wastes accumulated in the system–popularly known as “Healing crisis”.
Recurrent Laryngitis, TonsillitisLaryngitis and Tonsillitis are inflammations of the larynx (wind pipe) and tonsils respectively. In both cases there is pain, sore throat, low degree fever, malaise that generally persist for a few days. Like cold and rhinitis, both conditions are self–limiting in nature.
- Hot foot and arm baths–3 days continuously at the beginning and later on weekly twice.
- Enema daily for 3 days and a mud pack to the abdomen daily.
- Throat packs for 45–60 minutes till the symptoms last.
- Hot and cold fomentation to the throat and steam inhalation thrice daily to provide symptomatic relief.
- Fasting with fruit juice or lemon juice or vegetable soups until symptoms subside.
- Warm saline water or honey water gargling provides soothing effect and also helps in clearing mucus from throat region.
- Taking plenty of warm honey water with ginger juice causes counter irritation providing relief and foment the region relieving pain.
SinusitisSinuses are paired, hollow spaces connected with the nasal passages arranged in the skull region. They are frontal, maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses. Since they are connected to the nasal passages, any infection to the nose and throat region could spread to them. Thus, secretions accumulate in the sinuses resulting in heaviness in the head, blocked nostrils, nasal discharge, pain and tenderness at the area of involved sinus.
- Fasting on fruit juices or lemon juice till symptoms last forms an important part of the treatment.
- Enema successively for 3 days and later on as required. Mud pack on abdomen daily twice.
- Cold friction bath and immersion bath activates the skin, thus relieves the sinuses.
- Massage over the sinus region helps drain out accumulated mucus.
- Hot foot and arm bath diverts blood supply to the upper and lower limbs. This relieves pressure on the inflamed sinuses, providing relief from heaviness and pain.
- Steam inhalation by boiling water with eucalyptus leaves or camphor helps in draining out nasal secretions by opening up blocked nostrils.
- Jalaneti and Sutraneti also help in clearing nasal secretions, facilitating easier breathing.
- Steam/sauna baths also help in clearing the congestion of sinuses.
- Sometimes smelling of freshly chopped onions opens up the clogged nasal passages.
- Fomentation over the sinuses also gives immense relief.