WHAT IS AN ALLERGY?

An allergy or an allergic reaction, to be more specific is a faulty immune response to a specific or a number of foreign bodies which are potentially harmless most of the time.Although an allergic reaction to anything can offset at any point of time, at any age but, a strong hereditary factor does increase the risk of developing the response The risk increases many folds accordingly, if one or both the parents are also allergic to same allergen.

WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma on the other hand, though often confused to be an allergic disease is not always so. An asthmatic attack may be triggered by an allergic reaction in a few cases but it is not exactly an allergic condition.

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Let us understand the basic definition of Asthma first before coming to the difference between the two.

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung tissues specifically the lower respiratory tract. It is characterized by recurrent attacks of bronchial spasms with copious mucoid secretions which block the airways making the patient severely dyspnic. The attack is also accompanied by severe wheezing and breathlessness.

The onset of Asthma can also occur at any point of time but it usually occurs at a young age. It is a condition without cure and can only be managed with dietary and lifestyle modifications.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALLERGIES AND ASTHMA

• While an allergic reaction is always due to an abnormal immune response of the body, the inflammatory condition in asthma is only allerfgic if it occurs due to extrinsic actors which include allergens. Intrinsic or the non- allergic asthma is triggered by internal factors like anxiety, stress, depression, viruses etc. and manifests itself with symptoms that are almost similar to the intrinsic asthma.

• An allergic reaction can occur in any part of the body inside – out, but an asthmatic attack always involves the airways. There is no direct effect on any other part of the body.

• An allergic reaction may lead to running nose, sneezing, cough with sputum, headache and blisters of the skin etc. An Asthmatic reaction has breathlessness, wheezing, dry cough and chest tightness amongst its main features.

ALLERGY AND ASTHMA: HOW ARE THEY RELATED?

Chronic allergic conditions of the chest and respiratory tract can convert into asthma with time. These include, chronic sinusitis, pollen allergies, Hay fever and any other allergic condition which may affect the lung mucosa and cause recurrent inflammation.

The trigger factors for both these conditions are also the same. Also both Asthma and allergies are affected by similar kind of seasonal variations.

HOW AYURVEDA LOOKS AT THESE TWO DISEASES?

Ayurveda explains asthma as a disorder of The Kapha (Phlegm) body humor. It may manifest itself in three different ways depending up on the predominance of one of the three doshas (body humors). The onset of the disease is accompanied by gastro – intestinal symptoms which include diarrhea or constipation and indigestion.

Ayurveda explains allergies categorizing it into congenital ones that occur by birth and Amaja (Due to the accumulation of toxins) which cause one to develop a strong immune reaction due to the accumulation of toxins in the body which block channels and cause imbalance of the immune system.

APPPROACH TOWARDS THE AYURVEDIC TREATMENT OF ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES

The approach towards the treatment of both of these disorders is based on “DETOXIFICATION” of the body and opening the “SROTOAVRODHA” (blocked channels of circulation). This will help bring back the balance of the three body humors (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) which will automatically treat the condition. This way we can formulate a common approach which will benefit both the patients of Asthma and Allergies.

NATURAL HERBAL REMEDIES FOR TREATING ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES

• Take honey in a bowl and smell it. This eases out the breathing.

• 1 tsf ginger juice +1 tsf fenugreek seed decoction + 1 tsf honey- Make a glass full of this mixture and drink it every morning.

• 2 tsf Indian Gooseberry powder + 1 tsf honey – Once every morning.

• Add ginger, cardamom and pepper while preparing tea. Camphor, clove and Basil can also be added.

• 2 tsf Apple cider vinegar + Honey + A glass of water – drink this every morning regularly.

• Mix camphor with Mustard oil and massage over the chest to relieve chest congestion.

• Fresh figs mixed in water can be eaten every morning on an empty stomach.

• 5 gm Amla powder+ 1 tsf Honey makes for an effective expectorant and anti –allergic herbal combination.

• 1 tsf Turmeric powder, two to three times in a day with milk makes for an effective herbal remedy for any allergic condition.

• 10 cloves of Garlic + 30 ml of milk makes for an effective combination for early allergic conditions as well as in acute asthmatic condition.

DIETRAY AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS

• Avoid cold food and drinks and also allergy triggers. It’s important to know the factors that trigger an allergic reaction in each affected individual.

• Exercise regularly. It improves blood circulation in the airways, which imparts better oxygen availability to the RBCs.

• Breathing exercises are also very beneficial in asthmatic and allergic patients.

• Prefer a vegetarian diet, studies have shown that vegetarian people have shown better tolerance towards the bouts of Asthmatic and allergic attacks suffered by them as compared to the people who are non- vegetarian.

• Steam inhalation is another very effective way to unclog the mucoid plugs that block the airways in asthmatics and in people with respiratory allergies. Thyme and camphor can be added to the water before steaming it for better results.

• A rich anti – oxidant diet is the quintessential nourishment for patients of allergy and asthma. Vitamin – A, C, E are easily available and rich sources of anti –oxidants for the body.

• Pranayama, Padahasta asana and Bhujanga asana are one of the many Yogasanas that benefit such patients.

• Onion, ginger, garlic and curcumin are good anti – inflammatory agents which prevent inflammation and heal the damaged lung parenchyma. Include them in diet as part of meals, salads and deccotions.

• Follow a proper diet routine and regularize your body clock. This aids in maintaining a good and steady metabolism which improves the immune system.

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