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How Chiropractic Breathes New Life Into Asthma Treatment

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By: Martha Michael

How Chiropractic Breathes New Life Into Asthma Treatment

Breathing easy—both literally and figuratively—is crucial for a fulfilling life. For those sidelined by asthma, the struggle to catch a full breath can feel like a heavyweight, limiting not just physical exertion but the overall quality of life. While asthma has a myriad of triggers, its treatment options extend beyond just pharmaceuticals. Enter chiropractic care, a complementary approach that offers relief from the symptoms of asthma and a boost to overall wellness.

Now, let’s be clear: chiropractic care won’t cure asthma, but it can make the journey a lot smoother. Let's explore how chiropractic can breathe new life into asthma treatment, helping you reclaim your breath and your life.

What is asthma, and what are the most common symptoms?

A chronic disease affecting your lungs, asthma causes your body to produce extra mucus and your airways to become inflamed and narrow, according to the Mayo Clinic. As breathing becomes more difficult, a person with asthma typically displays symptoms such as coughing and wheezing.

There is no cure for asthma. People with the condition learn to manage symptoms, and sometimes, symptoms go into remission. It can also get worse. You know your condition is getting more severe when you suffer from:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Sleep issues caused by breathing problems
  • More prominent whistling sound when you breathe
  • Wheezing attacks due to respiratory viruses, such as colds or flu
  • Greater problems breathing, confirmed by peak flow meter test measurements
  • Need for an inhaler

In some cases, a person with asthma may have symptoms that come and go. Types of asthma symptoms that flare up are:

  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Occupational asthma caused by chemicals, gasses, or dust
  • Allergy-induced asthma caused by pollen, mold spores, pet dander, or other airborne substances

Allergy testing may involve a skin prick test to identify allergens leading to asthma attacks. A blood test is one way to confirm an asthma diagnosis because it eliminates physical conditions that could be responsible for breathing problems.

What triggers asthma attacks?

An asthma attack is triggered by symptoms such as muscle spasms around the airways and swelling of mucous membranes, according to WebMD. You cough and wheeze in an effort to rid your throat of excess mucus.

There are various factors that cause a reaction for an individual asthma sufferer and it can take time to identify the culprit. You can keep a food diary to see if anything you’re eating is causing breathing problems, and an activity diary is sometimes helpful in finding an environmental cause.

Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop asthma at some point in their lives. When fetuses are exposed to smoking in vitro, they can develop asthma later in life.

Respiratory infections

Sinusitis, colds, and flu can trigger an asthma attack. Viral and bacterial infections of various kinds are common asthma triggers.

Exercise

A person with asthma has to be careful when working out. Approximately 80 percent of asthmatics will experience an attack when completing a heavy workout. If you feel symptoms such as chest tightness or develop a cough within the first 15 minutes of a workout, cool down to regain normal breathing.

Heartburn

You may not think that heartburn brought on by a spicy meal can be responsible for the onset of asthma, but the two are often connected. Nearly 89 percent of people suffering from symptoms of asthma also have severe heartburn. Sometimes referred to as reflux disease or GERD, you often become aware of it when lying down. When acids in your stomach back up into the esophagus, they can cause inflammation and lead to an asthma attack.

The list of asthma triggers also includes:

  • Dust mites
  • Cold air
  • Smoke
  • Medications

Obviously, there are a number of things that can cause asthma, but you can help yourself or your loved one by learning the triggers.

Does asthma affect adults and children differently?

Asthma attacks have declined among both adults and children, according to an article by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. Between 2001 and 2020, the rate of asthma attacks per year dropped from 61 percent to 43 percent among children and dropped from 54 percent to 41 percent among adults. Many symptoms of childhood asthma are similar to adult-onset asthma, but they vary in severity, rate of remission, and the chance you’ll die from an asthma attack, according to an article by Healthline.

Symptoms

Both young and old sufferers of asthma can experience coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness in the chest; however, with children, these symptoms typically come and go. Adult asthmatics are more likely to develop a chronic condition, but nearly 50 percent of kids with asthma become less symptomatic over time or completely recover.

Risks

Having a child with asthma can be scary. Because it can be life-threatening, it makes sense to be vigilant about the onset of symptoms. Adults are six times more likely than children to suffer a fatality from asthma.

Diagnosis

Most adults with an asthma diagnosis were symptomatic as children. Approximately 66 percent of people with asthma are diagnosed as children. More boys are diagnosed with childhood asthma, but adult-onset asthma is more common among females.

What are the most effective treatments for asthma?

If you currently suffer from asthma or have similar symptoms as a child, you may be familiar with some of the most common treatments asthma patients receive. There are oral medications and inhalers to open the airway and relax muscles. Another strategy is to avoid allergens that trigger symptoms of asthma, but it may take some sleuth work to determine the causes.

Conventional medicine can overlook factors that make symptoms get worse for asthma patients such as the shallow breaths that result from poor posture and the impact of a weak fitness program on a person’s breathing quality. There are many effective complementary therapies to treat symptoms of asthma, says an article by Better Health Channel. In addition to reducing symptoms by addressing them specifically, some treatments are effective for asthma patients because they support an individual’s overall health program.

Chiropractic care

Asthma symptoms can take a toll on your body, from changes in posture to reduced mobility. A chiropractor can restore movement in your mid and upper back, which can make breathing easier by enabling your ribcage to move freely.

“While there’s limited research or studies that show chiropractic can directly improve asthma, there’s anecdotal evidence from patients suggesting that it can,” says Steven Knauf, D.C., vice president of chiropractic and compliance at The Joint Chiropractic. “Certainly, helping the chest to move more fully is advantageous to someone who suffers from asthma.”

Yoga

Because it’s effective in facilitating relaxation, yoga may help a person manage their asthma. Focusing on breathing and reducing muscle constriction can make it less likely the individual will suffer from an asthma attack.

Buteyko

A complementary therapy involving breath control techniques, Buteyko, may help reduce symptoms of asthma. Like yoga, it turns your attention to your breathing, slows it down, and takes in the air you need, offering you another form of non-invasive treatment with calming side effects.

It’s easy to become alarmed at the thought of managing a medical condition for the rest of your life, particularly when it involves such a basic human function—the need for air. If you or your child suffer from symptoms of asthma, you long to breathe the sigh of relief that comes with a prognosis that’s hopeful. When a physical exam and subsequent tests confirm your respiratory problems are due to asthma, your chiropractor can help you manage symptoms. Even if your activities are limited, when you maximize your overall health, it frees you up to live life to the fullest.

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