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Long-term exposure to traffic-related pollution may significantly increase the risk of asthma in early childhood, a study has warned. The findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, showed that living close to a major road was linked to childhood asthma at all ages examined. “Children living less than 100 metres from a major road had nearly three times the odds of current asthma – children who either experience asthma symptoms or use asthma medications daily – by ages seven to 10, compared with children living more than 400 metres away from a major road,” said study co-author Mary Rice from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, US.

For the study, the researchers analysed data from 1,522 Boston-area children born between 1999 and 2002. The researchers used mapping technologies to determine the distance between each child’s home address and the nearest major roadway. They also linked home addresses to census data and satellite-derived atmospheric data to calculate each participant’s daily exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) — tiny particles suspended in the air that when inhaled deposit in the terminal sacs of the lung.

Fine PM originates from fuel combustion, including traffic, power plants, and other pollution sources, the researcher said. The research team also examined children’s daily exposure to soot, a component of fine PM also known as black carbon. The researchers found that traffic-related pollutants appeared to increase asthma risk in childhood. “Lifetime exposure to black carbon and fine PM were also linked to the asthma in early childhood (ages three to five years), but in mid-childhood (ages seven to 10 years), these pollutants were associated with asthma only among girls,” the researcher noted.

Wheezing, gasping for air, feeling a general tightness in the chest might be common symptoms for you if you suffer from asthma. A chronic breathing disorder, asthma causes the narrowing of the bronchial airways that hampers normal breathing. This contraction may be triggered by allergens like pollen, dust, leading to a decreased amount of airflow in the lungs.

The breathing exercises that are prominently taught in yoga focus on slow inhalation and exhalation that build up the lung capacity. The intercostal or breathing muscles are also strengthened by yoga that can improve breathing. However, there are some specific asanas that you can try to get relief from asthma.

Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

Back-bending exercises like bhujangasana help in the opening of the chest, expand the rib cage and improve lung capacity, says Seema Sondhi, yoga expert, The Yoga Studio.

Salabhasana or Locust Pose

This pose strengthens the back and the abdomen and opens up the chest. The final position of the body in this asana resembles a locust.

Ustrasana or Camel Pose

One assumes a camel-like posture in the Ustrasana and it works towards opening the front of your body, pectoral muscles and hip flexors. It engages the entire frontal region and the sides of the body and helps in toning and relaxing the airways.

While these asanas can be challenging for beginners, they can always start out with easy breathing exercises. Dr Anjali Sharma, yoga expert, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, recommends specific ones to try out.

Tadasana or Mountain Pose

It involves standing and practising some stretches while giving special attention to regulating your breathing. Sondhi advises working more on the inhalation as patients tend to gasp for air while having an asthma attack and deep inhalation exercises can strengthen the muscles.

Kati Chakrasana

This pose improves the inhalation capacity and also gives the spine a nice stretch.

Pawanmukta Asana or Wind Relieving Pose

This asana involves lifting up the legs to a 90-degree angle from the floor while maintaining slow inhalation and exhalation of the breath. It also stretches the neck and the back, and relieves constipation.

Besides these, one can also try the Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), and Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Dr Sharma encourages animal form of breathing and Yogi Kriyas to get relief from asthma. She recommends Jal Neti, which is a form of nasal cleansing and involves passing salt water through one nostril and eliminating it out of the other.

Another kriya she recommends is Vaman Dhauti that includes vomiting out salt water, thereby cleaning the passages from where allergens can enter.

Regular practice of these asanas will help give relief, however, it is recommended to practise under the supervision of a teacher.

1. Home remedies for treating asthma naturally!
Are you looking for some natural home remedies to keep asthma at bay? Asthma can be a life threatening condition. It is a lung disease that causes difficult breathing. It is triggered by infections, emotions, weather conditions, pollution and certain medications. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. You will be surprised to know some ingredients in your kitchen can help you keep those asthma attacks at bay.For example, honey is one the oldest natural remedies to treat asthma.Before going to bed, swallow one teaspoon of honey with a pinch of cinnamon powder. It will help in removing phlegm from the throat and allow you to sleep better. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water and add some sugar according to your taste. Drink this regularly to reduce asthma attacks.Drinking coffee is the easiest and the most effective way to treat asthma. A hot cup of coffee helps in relaxing and clearing the airways and helps to breathe easily.Boil 3-4 cloves of garlic in half a cup of milk. Allow it to cool at room temperature and then drink it. It helps in clearing congestion in the lungs during the early stages of asthma. Here is the list of natural remedies that you can use to get relief from asthma and its symptoms.

2. Onions
Onions are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and help in clearing the airways. Eat raw onions to clear air passage for better breathing.

3. Lemon
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water and add some sugar according to your taste. Drink this regularly to reduce asthma attacks.

4. Lavender oil
Add 5-6 drops of lavender oil to a bowl of hot water. Inhale the steam for 10-15 minutes and see the magic.

5. Honey
Honey is one the oldest natural remedies to treat asthma. Before going to bed, swallow one teaspoon of honey with a pinch of cinnamon powder. It will help in removing phlegm from the throat and allow you to sleep better.

6. Ginger
Prepare a concoction by adding small pieces of ginger in a pot of boiling water. Let it seep for five minutes, allow it to cool and then drink it.

7. Garlic
Boil 3-4 cloves of garlic in half cup of milk. Allow it to cool at room temperature and then drink it. It helps in clearing congestion in the lungs during the early stages of asthma.

8. Coffee
Drinking coffee is the easiest and the most effective way to treat asthma. A hot cup of coffee helps in relaxing and clearing the airways to helps to breathe easily.

Fish 'prasadam', which is believed to cure asthma, was on Wednesday administered to thousands of patients who came here from various parts of the country.

Members of Bathini Goud family were administering the fish stuffed with a herbal paste -- reportedly believed to be a cure for asthma and other breathing ailments. The medicine, which the family has been distributing for 160 years, consists of a yellow herbal paste, the ingredients of which have remained a family secret. The paste is first stuffed into a live three centimetre-long murrel fish that is then slipped through the throat of the patient.

The programme, which began on Wednesday morning at the Exhibition Grounds in Nampally, will continue for 24 hours. Amid elaborate arrangements made by police and various departments, the distribution of 'prasadam' began at 8 a.m., marking the beginning of Mrigasira Karthi or the onset of monsoon. Despite it being a subject of controversy, patients descended here in the hope of finding some relief to their nagging respiratory problems through the "miracle drug".
Police set up separate queues for women, physically-challenged and senior citizens to ensure smooth conduct of the annual event. A total of 32 counters were set up.

Hundreds of people coming from different states had reached the venue on Tuesday and obtained tokens. Goud family members claimed that 35,000 people took the fish 'prasadam' till Wednesday evening. They said arrangements to supply one lakh fingerlings were made.

If taken for three successive years, the medicine is believed to cure asthma.

The family claims to be distributing the fish medicine free of cost for over 160 years. It renamed the drug as 'prasadam' a few years ago when it became a subject of controversy. Some groups approached a lower court seeking a ban on the "unscientific" practice, claiming that since the herbal paste contains heavy metals it can cause serious health problems. But the Goud family claims that the tests in laboratories conducted as per court orders revealed that the herbal paste is safe. It claims that the secret formula for the herbal medicine was given to their ancestor in 1845 by a saint after taking an oath from him that it would be administered free of cost.

Asthma is one of the major respiratory ailments in the world with close to 300 million people suffering from it globally.

10% of Indian population suffers from it with more and more children falling prey to the ailment.

Experts suggest that childhood asthma may have sever repercussions later on in life with some people even falling prey to heart failure in adulthood.

The study was published in the journal JACC and showed that childhood asthma may lead to thickening in the left ventricle, causing the heart muscle to lose elasticity and eventually fail to pump.

The findings also showed that the association was more prominent in patients with pre-hypertension and hypertension.

Asthma is a respiratory ailment wherein a person suffers from inflamed airways which may swell up, become narrow and begin to produce extra mucus.

An asthmatic finds it difficult to breathe and may also have an attack during stressful situations or after a physically strenuous event.

Unfortunately, the rise in air pollution is also making people prone to the respiratory disorder.

While medical intervention is the best approach to tackle asthma in the long run, some easy home remedies can help alleviate the condition.

Common ingredients that can help

1. Mulethi, commonly known as licorice root, can easily be added in green teas or simply simmered in boiling water along with some honey and ginger to sooth asthma.

2. Onions are anti-inflammatory, therefore excellent for treating the inflamed airway. Add onions in your daily diet or simply take 1/4 cup of onion juice and mix it with a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of pepper. Consume this potion twice a day.

3. Honey has long been used in most Ayurvedic preparations and herbal medicines. It plays a pivotal role in simple home remedies that can help asthmatics. Mix it with half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and have it just before turning in to feel better.

Dr. Shubham Hukkeri
Dr. Shubham Hukkeri
BPTh, 1 yrs, Mumbai
Dr. Hema Chandrashekhar
Dr. Hema Chandrashekhar
BAMS, Ayurveda Family Physician, 28 yrs, Pune
Dr. Sachin Hundekari
Dr. Sachin Hundekari
MBBS, Cardiologist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Mahesh Zagade
Dr. Mahesh Zagade
BHMS, Homeopath General Physician, 3 yrs, Pune
Dr. Dhananjay Ostawal
Dr. Dhananjay Ostawal
BHMS, General Physician, 34 yrs, Pune