Getting diagnosed with asthma was a complete shock to me.I wasn’t the picture perfect image of asthma Hollywood portrays: a little kid with glasses wheezing to keep up with friends on the playground. I was an active world traveler getting diagnosed with asthma in my early twenties. After the initial shock wore off, I began learning as much as I could about the disease. I wanted to understand what was happening in my body and whether my lifestyle choices can play a role. Here’s what I found. Bad news: there is no cure for asthma. Good news: different approaches (like using essential oils) can help prevent and manage symptoms.
What Is Asthma?Managing your diagnosis starts with understanding what asthma is. Inside your lungs are airways that work to bring air in and out of your lungs. Asthma is a chronic lung disease where your lungs’ airways become inflamed and narrowed. This can cause chest tightening, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Really, anyone can get asthma. Usually asthma shows up in young children, but late in life adults can get it too. Around 25 million people have asthma. Currently, there is no cure for asthma and no exact known cause (but many researchers believe it is likely genetic and environmental factors at play).
What Causes Asthma SymptomsThe symptoms of asthma are often caused by a variety of triggers. Each individual is different and their asthma can be aggravated by different triggers. I’m not affected by perfumes and scents, for example, but I am definitely affected by stress and smoke.
The many triggers of asthma include:
- Allergens (like dust, animal fur, mold, and pollen)
- Irritants (like smoke, pollution, and perfume)
- Sulfites found in different food and drink (like wine)
- Upper respiratory infections
Common Asthma Treatment OptionsThere are four main ways to approach controlling your asthma.
- Control your triggers. As much as possible, remove your triggers from your environment. Since stress is a big trigger for my lungs, I proactively work to manage stress with yoga, meditation, journaling, and exercise.
- Long term medicines. For some people, daily long term medicine (like a pill) is needed to prevent and manage symptoms. Talking with your doctor will help you know whether this is the right step for you.
- Quick relief medicines. An inhaler is a quick relief medicine used to relax the muscles around your airways. This makes it easier for air to flow through and can help during bad symptoms (like an asthma attack).
- Natural remedies. Natural remedies work to prevent and/or relieve symptoms through natural means (like essential oils).