Signs and Symptoms
chest pain and tightness
These symptoms often times occur in reaction to exercise, infection, or airborne irritants such as smoke, pollen, or chemicals.
The exact cause of asthma has not been identified. One proposed explanation is the increased use of germ-killing procedures with household cleaners, antibacterial soaps, antibiotics, etc. These alter the environment and living conditions such that children are not being subjected to the same environmental exposure as they used to, which can affect the developing immune system. An underdeveloped immune system may cause the child to be more reactive to irritants in the environment.
It is also believed that cervical misalignments are connected to asthma as they can affect the nerves that control respiration. One of these nerves is the phrenic nerve which innervates the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the main muscle used in breathing, and when nerve supply to the diaphragm is compromised, so is respiration. Another important nerve is the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve supplies the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract and other organs. In addition, it inhibits inflammation and stress by regulating the immune system and providing support to Th1 immunity. When cervical subluxations are present, the vagus nerve may be compromised causing an increase in Th2 immunity and a decrease in Th1 immunity, which consequently may lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Asthmatic sufferers are reported to be Th2 dominant.
The Medical Approach
There are several types of medical treatments for seasonal allergies, including the following:
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB): staying active, and warming up properly before exercise is the best way to minimize the effects of EIB. Inhaled corticosteroids with beta2 agonists are typically prescribed for emergencies.
Allergic Asthma: common in people with a family history of allergies. Inhaled steroids, bronchodilators and some injectable medications that reduce immune reactivity are often prescribed for this condition.
Childhood Asthma: children who develop asthma before the age of five. Inhaled immunosuppressant or steroids are the most common treatments offered.
The most common side effects of corticosteroids and leukotriene treatments are oral yeast infections, headaches, hoarseness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and irritability. Consider these when considering medical treatment.
The Non-Medical Approach
Breathing exercises such as those practiced in yoga called pranayama can help regulate breathing and reduce hyperventilation in crisis, but does not improve underlying allergic reaction. Herbal remedies may also be used. Traditional Indian, Japanese, and Chinese medicine utilizes combinations of herbs to lessen the effects of asthma.
The Chiropractic Approach
Asthma involves several organs and tissues - the airways, mucous membranes, and even parts of the immune system. It has been suggested that chiropractic adjustments are able to clear the pathways of communication between the brain and these involved tissues. Specifically, chiropractic adjustments may reduce nerve interference to the phrenic and vagus nerves which control respiration, allowing proper function of the diaphragm and lungs, as well as boosting the immune system by activating the neural immune pathways that favor the Th1 response.