Asthma Specialists Lancaster OH
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases
Medical School: Univ Auto De Guadalajara, Fac De Med, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Graduation Year: 1980
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care (Intensivists)
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases
Medical School: Univ Veracruzana-Veracruz, Fac De Med, Veracruz, Mexico
Graduation Year: 1984
Hospital: Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Oh
Group Practice: Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Avon Lake, OH
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine
Medical School: La State Univ Sch Of Med In New Orleans, New Orleans La 70112
Graduation Year: 1996
Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care (Intensivists)
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease
Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine
Medical School: The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Graduation Year: 1990
Unwinding from Asthma
By Swaha Devi
Like clockwork, a 2 a.m. asthma attack shut down my airways and jolted me out of sleep. The sweet relief of breath was at arm’s length, in the emergency inhaler on my night table. One quick spray and within seconds I felt my bronchial tubes begin to relax, allowing precious air to enter.
The next development was all too predictable. The drug made my heart race, and I couldn’t fall back asleep until just moments before the alarm clock rang, ending my brief respite.
Scenarios like this are typical of the hold asthma exerted on my life for many years. Episodes came and went, with spasms gripping my bronchial tubes, inflammation swelling the mucous membranes, and phlegm choking the breath out of me.
The attacks were at their worst when I lived in Florida, where the intense humidity caused mildew to flourish, aggravating my condition. I often felt like I was trying to breathe under water. Nor did my job as a tech writer in an old airplane hangar—full of mold, chemical fumes, and cigarette smoke—help matters. I can’t count the times when it seemed impossible to think clearly enough to get through the day. I tried allergy shots, but hated having to poke myself with a needle, so I quit the job instead. When a doctor told me my only option was to take medicine for the rest of my life, I finally found the courage to say enough.
My first order of business was to stop an attack without using inhalers. I accomplished this within weeks through a variety of methods, including taking first hot, then cold showers to relax the spasms, and hovering over steam infused with eucalyptus oil for long periods. But I was still living from one attack to the next. I needed to get to the root of the problem.
Once I began digging, clues turned up everywhere (even in King Tut’s tomb, where the anti-inflammatory herb licorice, now known as a decongestant, was unearthed alongside other treasures). Ultimately, though, putting the disease behind me required tending to much more than my closed airways. Top of the list? Stress.
Once I started paying attention, I realized almost anything—a cold, deadline pressures, bad news, or bad weather—could start me wheezing. Emotional stress of any kind was a particularly powerful trigger.
Elson Haas, a physician and director of the Preventive Medicine Center of Marin in San Rafael, California, isn’t surprised. Stress kicks off physiological responses that lead directly to breathing troubles, he says. What’s the first thing people do when they’re nervous? Take shorter breaths, of course. Plus, the body releases certain hormones when we’re under stress (particularly adrenaline and cortisol) that open up the airways—but once the stress goes away and these hormones subside, the bronchial tubes can tighten up again.
Clearly, I needed to coax my body into staying calm. (Stop and smell the roses? I was allergic to them!)
You’d think my living situation would have been a help. I was part of a yoga community at the time...
Author: Swaha Devi
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