Asthma – A Simple Guide


Asthma is a common, multi-factorial respiratory condition that is associated with episodes of coughing and various degrees of breathing difficulty. It affects about 1 in 4 urban children, and can lead to death in serious cases.

Asthma is characterized by chronic 'background' inflammation of the upper to mid airways (bronchi), resulting in congested, mucous filled airways with episodes of acute flare-up, causing severe coughing and airway restriction (wheezing). This inflammation [inflammation: response by cells to 'non-self' elements such as chemical compounds, micro-organisms and radiation] is caused by two main factors:


Some people are born with a genetic predisposition where their immune system will 'over react' to external factors, causing the inflammatory response in the upper and mid airways associated with asthma. Thus, it could be said that asthma 'runs in families', and is an important question by a medical practitioner when first examining a patient.

* EXTERNAL FACTORS (most common)

There are various external factors that could cause asthma, but the following are the most common found:

Chemicals such as sulfuric, nitrous and volatile organic airborne and ingested chemicals. Pollutants, most notably Tobacco smoke & micro fibers of synthetic carpets in the average home. Allergens like pollen, dust mite excrement and dry airborne animal saliva. Micro-organisms such as various respiratory viruses, fungal spores & bacteria are also causes.

As mentioned earlier, these external as well as internal factors cause the 'background' infection, which then could be changed into an acute 'attack' where the threshold between chronic life sustaining, and life threatening will be crossed. This could be due to a higher intake of the above-mentioned factors, or triggered by mainly exercise, laughter or cold air. It is also usually present in the early hours of the morning due to a drop in bodily steroid production.


Asthma is usually a chronic condition with episodic acute episodes. These two factors have different presentations. In the chronic phase, common symptoms are dry to 'wet' coughing; Breathlessness & failure to thrive in children. Signs often only include a 'pigeon chest' in young children as well as delayed milestones. In young adults, there could have prolonged expiration times and occasional wheezes with auscultation. Mostly, asthma is first diagnosed after an acute episode, with symptoms including severe coughing, difficulty in breathing and a feeling of panic; And signs of anxiety, labored breathing with polyphonic wheezes and rapid heart rate with engorged neck veins.


It is vital to treat an acute attack as an emergency by ensuring an open and viable airway and administrating 100% humidified oxygen, Beta-2 stimulants and fast-acting intravenous cortico-steroids. It is also vital to remove and / or treat any causing factors if at all possible.

In the chronic phase, it is of utmost importance to start with preventive measures, that, by avoiding causal factors. Ironically, the most common factors will be found in one's home; Tobacco smoke and especially synthetic carpets being the culprit [carpets – especially synthetic ones as their static adhesives particles – are arranged with all kinds of pollutants]. Smoking should never occur indoors, and carpets should be replaced by solid flooring. If this is not possible, carpets should be vacuumed daily with a proper vacuum cleaner (with HEPA filters cleaned regularly), in the absence of the asthmatic person, leaving the house open to 'air out' for a while. Bedding should also regularly be washed and treated properly, with mattresses aired and discharged in the sun on occasion. Foods containing preservatives (especially nitrate and sulfide containing ones) should be avoided. In conjunction with the utmost important Primary Health Aspect mentioned above, drugs such as long acting cortico-steroids and Beta-2 stimulants can be prescribed. It is also important for the asthmatic to always carry a fast acting Beta-2 stimulant inhaler as well as a Medic-Alert bracelet with his or her condition inscribed.


Early sunset asthma has a strong tendency to diminish or even disappear into adulthood, while late sunset asthma usually sticks around like a bad habit. This can also be attributed to the misdiagnosing of other respiratory diseases closely mimicking asthma in adults.


If one takes Reiki principals into account, respiratory problems – notably so in asthma – is on a mental level, secondary to a repressed sense of failure to accept life force, or that that what the universe has to offer. Thus, those who always decline something good coming their way, feeling guilty of accepting 'freebies'.

Indeed, if we take a closer look at the new field of psychoneuroimmunology, it is clearly seen how different aspects of personality and mental attributions will lead to certain diseases (such as the reduction of Killer-T cells in Type C personalities; rendering some prone To cancer as an example).

This shows again how health is not purely a case of the reductionist 'this equals that' slapped with pharmaceuticals; But requiring a careful, empathetic and holistic approach.