If you suffer from asthma, it’s probably the bane of your existence. More than 2.5 million Australians have asthma – about one in 10 adults and one in nine children. Asthma is a condition that results in difficulty breathing, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing, with excessive phlegm or mucus.
Since asthma is a chronic condition with irregular triggers, learning to control it when it strikes is important. Most people will be able to access medication and use an inhaler to control outbreaks. But managing asthma isn’t just about medication. Today, we offer five natural solutions that can help you breathe easier.
Drink an espresso
If you find yourself with a mild case of wheezing and coughing during the day, a shot of coffee can help to relieve these symptoms. Caffeine acts as a mild bronchodilator, which means it opens up your airways. Some studies suggest that coffee may assist your lungs to work better for up to four hours.
Hit the shower
The steam from a hot shower or steam bath can help to soothe the airways and clear out the mucus that makes it difficult to breathe when asthma hits. However, some people find that heat and moisture makes their asthma worse, so it’s important to know what works for you.
Spice up your life
Spices have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal benefits. Garlic and ginger are known for having potent anti-inflammatory properties, and may help relieve symptoms of asthma. Try using them often in your cooking or steeping them in hot water to make a tisane.
Keep it colourful
Eating widely within the fruit and vegetable families ensures your body receives a broad range of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that help fight inflammation in your lungs. Colourful produce is full of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E.
While we’re discussing diet, watch out for sulphites (a type of preservative), which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. Sulphites can be found in wine, dried fruit, pickles and prawns.
When you feel mild symptoms of asthma creep up, breathing exercises can help your lungs relax and work more smoothly. Breathing with pursed lips is one exercise that can work: inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth, with lips pursed.
Another breathing exercise called diaphragmatic breathing (or deep-belly breathing) can be useful. Consult a health professional for more advice on breathing techniques.
Understand your triggers
People with asthma can sometimes also suffer from hidden allergies, so it’s a good idea to be tested for the common ones, such as pollens, dust mites and pet dander allergens. All these can exacerbate asthma if you’re sensitive to them.
Have you found any of these therapies to be useful in controlled asthma? Have you developed asthma later in life?
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.