The Nose, Asthma, and Lungs

Natural Solutions - - Ask The Doctor -

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.

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