The Nose, Asthma, and Lungs
I’ve been looking for new, natural ways to relive my asthma and allergy symptoms. Can nasal washing help?
The nose is an elegant structure, beautifully designed for essential and life-supporting functions. It is not simply an air-intake port. When the nose works well, it filters, warms, and humidifies the air we breathe—which is no small task in today’s environment.
The nose is the first major defense the human body has to protect us from our polluted world. Without this filtering mechanism, millions of impurities would be allowed to reach our fragile lung tissues, damaging the gas-exchanging membranes deep within our chests. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed, making them swollen and sensitive. They tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or substances your tissues find irritating. When the airways react, they get narrower and produce more mucus, and less air flows through to your lung tissue. This causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing; these symptoms tend to be worse at night and in the early morning.
There are many nasal irritants in our world; the tissues in the nose are very tender and react almost immediately after being exposed to irritants. First, the nasal tissues swell. Then increased mucus production occurs; the mucus gets thicker and stickier. The filtering hairs (called cilia) become clogged. As a result, all the normal drainage systems fail to function. Symptoms of chronically obstructed noses and sinuses include asthma exacerbations, increased coughing, poor exercise tolerance, fatigue, and even bloody noses.
The modern medical provider helps children and adults with asthma manage their symptoms with inhalers, steroids, and nebulizers to vaporize medication into the lungs. In this healthcare system, too little attention is focused on avoidance of individual triggers and prevention of asthma exacerbations. We can help ourselves naturally by decreasing our exposure to toxic loads of irritants.
Some of the more common asthma triggers include allergens, environmental irritants, and viral infections. Families with children who have asthma report that this disease influences a range of decisions concerning home furnishings, carpets, household spending, holidays, pets, and their general lifestyle. They do their best to control allergies by removing allergens and irritants from the home; they avoid all sources of smoke, stop smoking indoors, and control the home environment for humidity, dust, and animal dander.
We can’t, however, avoid every single irritant. We have to be able to walk in nature, play at the park, and breathe Check out some of the most recent asthma-related statistics from the CDC’sNational Asthma Control Program.
Asthma costs the United States $56 billion each year
In 2009, the average yearly cost of care for a child with asthma was $1,039
In 2008 there were 14.2 million missed days of work and 10.5 million missed days of school due to asthma
Every day, about 9 people die from asthma
In 2010, 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 11 children had asthma
the air. What can we do when we are unavoidably exposed to allergens and asthma triggers? It’s simple: Wash the filter! Wash the nose!
Anyone older than 2 years can learn to wash their nose, which removes many allergy and asthma triggers before they have a chance to cause inflammation. Because triggers are a primary cause of asthma exacerbations, it only makes sense to include regular nasal washing as part of an aggressive preventive program. The nose is the filter that protects our lungs. Keep the filter clean, avoid asthma triggers, and there will be fewer asthma exacerbations. Prevention is always better than treatment.