Asthma is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. Asthma is characterized by constricted and inflamed airways. The condition often starts in childhood but can affect people in any age group. The Centers for Disease Control state that asthma affects roughly 1 in every 13 people. The number of people diagnosed with asthma has increased by 60 percent over the last 30 years. The condition has become more frequent among both adults and children. Asthma is now the top chronic disease for children with about 6.8 million children being affected by it. What can be done about the condition? Can visits to a chiropractor in Berkley, Michigan help to treat asthma? Let’s examine the issue and find answers to both of those questions.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. The condition’s severity and frequency with which it occurs varies from person to person. The symptoms may be worse during times of high physical activity like playing or engaging in physical labor but some asthma sufferers have attacks even when they are not being active.
In an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes — the tubes that take air into and out of the lungs — become inflamed. The inflamed bronchial tubes become narrower, which reduces the amount of air that can pass through them. Reduced airflow causes symptoms like breathlessness and coughing and wheezing that are associated with asthma attacks.
Doctors are not exactly sure about what causes asthma or why some people get it and others don’t. There is a lot of research suggesting that the core causes are an individual’s genetics combined with their environment. Asthma attacks are triggered by certain air pollutants and environmental factors like air temperature. Since allergies and asthma are often connected, the substances that can trigger an asthma attack are often also known to be allergy triggers or allergens.
The triggers for asthma and allergies won’t be the same for every sufferer but some of the ones that many asthma sufferers share include:
Common asthma triggers include:
- Exposure to cold air
- Airborne allergens and pollutants including smoke, mold spores, and pollen
- Acid reflux
- Medications including over-the-counter ones like aspirin and ibuprofen
- Bronchitis and other respiratory infections
The best way to manage asthma attacks is to avoid the triggers. Avoiding triggers can prevent the attack or minimize its severity. What this means is that you will need to learn what your triggers are, which you can only do by enduring attacks. It won’t always be possible to avoid triggers so keeping a quick-relief inhaler with you at all times is a good idea. Inhalers are effective for managing symptoms and are commonly used by people with asthma but using them and other medications won’t correct the root problems that are causing asthma.
Medications for asthma control fall into two categories, one being the quick relief category that includes inhalers and the other being the medications that take a longer time to act. Long-term medications for asthma include combination inhalers, long-acting beta-agonists that work by relaxing bronchial muscles, and leukotriene modifiers. The leukotriene modifiers stop your body from producing leukotrienes in response to asthma triggers. Leukotrienes cause bronchial tube inflammation. Inhalation corticosteroids are medicines similar to cortisone that help with the treatment of asthma symptoms over the long term by making attacks fewer and less severe. Quick-relief asthma treatments include bronchodilators like albuterol and ipratropium. Other treatments that promise rapid easing of the symptoms include short-acting beta-agonists and corticosteroids that you take orally or intravenously.
Allergy treatments like immunotherapy and allergy shots are another effective way to reduce the immune system’s response to asthma triggers so they can also be used to treat asthma. It can take a long time for the allergy medications to have an effect so this might not be the option to take if you want an immediate benefit.
Asthma medications are often the best way to deal with an asthma attack but they can have serious side effects. In comparison, treatment from a chiropractor is safe and you can use it to treat asthma naturally. Many asthma patients have found that regular chiropractic treatment is a good way to lessen the severity of asthma symptoms.
Treating Asthma with Chiropractic
One of the focuses of chiropractic care is the health of all the body’s systems. By correcting problems with spinal alignment, chiropractic care can help the nervous system to operate as it should. The nervous system is what controls how everything else in your body operates. If your nervous system is not functioning as it should, it will cause trouble for the rest of your body’s systems. Nervous system problems are the root of many health problems.
Treating spinal misalignments can improve health in many areas beyond the back and neck including the respiratory system. Asthma is one of the problems that chiropractic can help. Chiropractic works for asthma because its objective is to treat the whole body rather than to manage specific symptoms — it treats the true cause of the problem.
Even though chiropractic care doesn’t treat asthma directly, regular treatments can still be effective for alleviating symptoms in children as well as adults. Researchers in a study on children with asthma found that getting care from a chiropractor was able to reduce the patients’ breathing trouble by 39 percent. Eliminating spinal misalignments and improving nervous system health can boost breathing function in your lungs and diaphragm.
The respiratory benefits of chiropractic actually go beyond asthma and extend to the whole immune system — research into pediatric asthma has shown that chiropractic can strengthen the immune response. An effective immune system is important to asthma sufferers since getting a respiratory illness can make asthma symptoms much worse. A strong immune system will do a better job at fighting asthma and other health conditions including a range of other respiratory illnesses. Antibodies that the immune system releases can fight off illness when the system is working properly.
One theory that explains the connection between asthma and chiropractic is that pressure on nerves caused by poor spinal column alignment results in respiratory health problems like asthma. Because chiropractic treats the body as an interconnected system, chiropractic treatments for spinal misalignments may allow asthma sufferers to see a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in their breathing.
Spinal misalignments that affect the nerves controlling your diaphragm — the main muscle that you use to breathe — can affect how well you breathe. To treat a patient with asthma, a chiropractor will examine the part of the spine associated with breathing. The nerves that control the respiratory system including the lungs and bronchial tubes come from specific segments of the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is the middle section of the spine behind the lungs and consists of 12 vertebrae. A chiropractor will make manipulations to the thoracic spine.
Spinal problems can affect how well you breathe in other ways. Misalignments may also reduce the thoracic spine’s range of motion. A limited range of motion may mean that the lungs do not fully inflate with each breath. When a chiropractor restores the spine’s ability to move as it should, the patient’s lungs will be able to take in more air and their asthma symptoms will improve.
Along with correcting your spinal misalignments, your chiropractor may also suggest changes to your lifestyle. Common suggestions for asthma sufferers may include quitting smoking and lowering your intake of inflammatory foods as well as reducing asthma triggers in your environment.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you suffer from asthma and are looking for a treatment that does not use medication, chiropractic care might be right for you. Chiropractic care has been shown to make asthma attacks less frequent and less severe. At Integrative Physical Health, we can create a treatment plan to boost your immune system and reduce allergic responses so that you will suffer fewer asthma attacks and have a better quality of life. Let our chiropractors evaluate your spine and help to improve your lung function and respiratory health. Contact us to schedule an appointment and talk to one of our experienced chiropractors.