Bronchial asthma is a very common disease which affects at all ages – from childhood to old age. But for a type of severe asthma, the disease is excellently treatable with inhalational therapy. There are quite a few misgivings of people about the continued use of inhalers. Most patients of asthma and their family members, especially in case of children are wary of inhalers and tend to find home- remedies and other alternative choices. Medically speaking the fear of inhalers is misplaced and unfounded. Asthma inhalers are effective, non-addicting and safe. One should also keep in mind that an inhaler is only a device for administration of different drugs. The efficacy, safety and side-effects depend upon the drug which is being inhaled.

Besides prescribing inhalational drugs, a good pulmonologist or chest physician is also likely to recommend healthy practices related to choice of foods, living style and exercise. Yoga exercises, relaxation, meditation and other ancillary practices do help to remove tension and anxieties and promote the effects of medical treatment. Pranayam, Anulom-vilom, kapal-bhati and Surya-namaskar are some of the commonly practiced yoga practices which are followed in this country. Factually, these practices are not restricted for treatment of asthma but recommended for general good health and well being. While useful to maintain a stable state in controlled asthma, the exertional exercises are better with-held during an exaggerated or uncontrolled state of asthma for the fear of worsening.

Use of home-remedies with different food items and other concoctions is quite popular for treatment in Indian homes. A cup of hot tea, coffee or kahwa and consumption of honey, ginger, garlic and figs is frequently recommended. There is nothing to suggest that they do not help. We are quite okay with their use as well as with other practices outlined earlier. But all these treatments are complimentary to and do not replace medical treatment. One must not over rely on such therapies and ignore the necessary treatment.

Regular exercises, drinking adequate amount of fluids every day, consumption of fresh fruits and green-vegetables, avoiding smoking and alcoholic drinks are other important preventive steps for asthma patients. Consumption of irritating, chilly and ‘junk’ foods is better to avoid. Patients often tend to avoid healthy food items including beans, milk, cheese and curds. Asthma however is an air-borne allergic disease. There is no general need to avoid such foods unless there is a definite evidence of an allergic response and triggering of asthma after their consumption.

 One needs to be particularly careful during change of season when the allergen content of the air is high. Early morning walk may promote exposure to dry, cold air during the winters – not good for patients with asthma. Viral infections are important triggers of asthma attacks. Therefore, vaccination against the prevalent strains of influenza virus is also recommended before the onset of winter season.

In summary, it is fair to say that one should always appreciate and exploit the additional benefits of home-remedies and health-life practices in the comprehensive asthma-management programme. These practices may also help to reduce the drug-dosage required to maintain control and prevent exacerbations. Visit your best chest clinic for appropriate advice and recommendation.