Its just the autumn about to start and already the occasional chilly winds have started making their presence felt. Come winter and life becomes worse for respiratory patients, especially those of asthma, bronchitis, COPD and those vulnerable to cold in general. Special care needs to be taken to avoid any recurrences or aggravations due to the weather. Today we detail the preventive and curative measures to tackle episodes of breathlessness.
1. To start with, warmth is worth a world to respiratory patients. Always wear a sweater, even if you don’t feel the need. You’ll see its effects in less than a day.
2. The same, and more, is for food. Eat it warm, always. It has other benefits too. Stale food should be avoided at all costs, or at least reheated first. For more about how to eat food, read this.
3. Vitamin C works good not just against viral infections, but for overall respiratory health too. Make sure you get enough of it. The simplest way is to take half a lemon’s juice after each meal. It aids digestion too.
4. You may not be aware, but indigestion plays a role in breathlessness attacks. How? A full, bloated stomach leaves lesser space for your diaphragm to move, making inhalation require more effort than usual, precipitating more attacks. So make sure you have a light, clear tummy at all times. How to do that? Half a teaspoonful of Triphala powder after each meal and a teaspoonful of castor oil before going to bed at night can do the job well enough. Did I forget to tell that Triphala is also a minor source of Vitamin C? Yes it’s a win-win.
5. Take a good night’s sleep daily. Your lungs, though they never take a break, do slow down to relax when you sleep. This is very important for their health, as it helps replenish something called ‘bronchiolar surfactant‘, which is essentially a chem that keeps lungs from collapsing about themselves, facilitating smooth respiration. (Tip: feeling sleepless too? Read this.)
6. Avoid lifting heavy weights. The strain can cause internal damage to lungs that are previously affected by respiratory disease (and undergone a process called fibrotic healing), or can lead to recurrence of breathless spells.
7. Prefer tea over coffee in cold weather. Tea has more proportions of bromhexine and theophylline, the bronchodilator compounds that can help you take a bigger and deeper breath.
8. What can be even better, is to take an Ayurvedic tea that specifically alleviates respiratory troubles. Recipe? That will be the topic of the next post. Keep reading.
9. Keep your ears, feet and hands covered on additionally chilly days. This are the surfaces that lose heat the fastest, leading to breathing trouble, amongst other terrible things.
10. Chewing on licorice and vanilla twigs every now and then can be a good idea for preventive care. Both are very good for respiratory health and can effectively keep prednisolone and anti-histaminics at minimal necessity. Kids even love the sweet taste and aroma.
11. Garlic and asafoetida are your friends on the diet chart. Include them in every meal. Again, this is not a food blog, so I won’t list recipes; be creative, explore, experiment and enjoy. There are also some things to avoid – yoghurt, fish, jaggery and yeast-containing foods, as far as possible.
So you took all precautions, but still had an attack of asthma or bronchitis? Here’s what can be done at home.
1. Take some leaves of castor bean tree, heat them lightly till they start looking oily, place them on the patient’s chest when cooled to warm, and tie up with a cloth or large bandage. This is an instant and easy home remedy for a large number of causes of breathing troubles.
2. If castor leaves aren’t available, merely rubbing castor oil on the chest and the back, and steaming/ hot-compressing with a hot waterbag/towel can also help a lot.
3. Another good home remedy – Grate some processed dry ginger (Shunthi) with water to create a watery paste (Do not use a mixer/blender. Grate manually on a stone plate. It creates micro particles in the paste, that are essential for the required effect.) Heat this paste a bit, and apply a dense layer of it on the chest and back, while still warm.
However, always remember that asthma and bronchitis are not illnesses to be taken lightly, and a sustained escalation in symptoms that does not subside by home remedies should immediately be consulted with a qualified doctor.
Still, as the well-known adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. So the next time winter hits, you are prepped up to hold the wolves back at the gates!
Stay Healthy, stay Happy!!
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About the Author –
Dr. Harshad Rajandekar is a practicing physician based out of Nasik, India. His consulting schedule and contact information can be read here.