Asthma is a form of reversible obstructive lung disease with many variations. Asthma involves only the airways (bronchi and bronchioles), and not the air sacs in the lung. Asthma is one of the 3 manifestations of a pattern of allergy, called atopy. The associated disorders are eczema and hay fever. Often patients have positive skin tests to inhalant allergens which cause hay fever and may have skin reactions to foods which prove to be a problem. Foods that produce significant positive skin tests should be avoided in the diet; however, other foods that do not show skin reactions may contribute to the disease. If all the attention is directed toward the more obvious skin-positive inhalant allergies, an opportunity to benefit from comprehensive diet revision is lost.
The airways trap airborne particles in a thin layer of mucus that covers their surface. The mucus is either coughed-up or swept up into the trachea by cilia, tiny hairs on the lining of the airways. Once the mucus reaches the throat, it can be coughed up or swallowed. The asthmatic's airway is hyper-reactive. In response to stimuli, the airway may become obstructed by: constriction of the muscles in bronchi and bronchioles, narrowing the airway, inflammation and swelling of the airway with obstruction of air flow.
In the past, medical textbooks divided asthma into outside and inside forms.
Extrinsic (outside) asthma tended to occur in sudden attacks triggered by exposure to airborne materials.
Intrinsic (inside) asthma seemed to occur repeatedly or continuously for no apparent reason.
Since asthmatics are often allergic individuals, it is common for an asthmatic to react to both airborne and food triggers and to develop more complex sensitivities as they progress along the disease path. Asthma is increasing worldwide and higher numbers of deaths from asthma in affluent countries worry authorities. Hospitalization for asthma has increased by 50% over the past 20 years, and deaths from asthma in the United States have increased. It is suggested that mortality is particularly high in lower socioeconomic groups who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution and have poorer access to early and effective medical care. Air-borne particulates may be major factor in the increasing morbidity from asthma.
Airborne allergens and chemicals cause respiratory disease - inflammation in the nose and in the lung. Lung inflammation is often expressed as asthma. Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, can play a role in the exacerbation of airway disease in asthmatics and may contribute to the overall increase in asthma morbidity in recent decades. The most serious airborne problems at home are cigarette smoke, dust, molds, and house dust mites.
Food allergy is an important cause of asthma. Food-induced wheezing is sometimes recognized in infants who often have food allergy especially to cow’s milk. Asthma and eczema often go together in infants and young children. Food allergy is seldom recognized in older children, adolescents and adults and diet revision is almost never considered in the treatment of asthma. This is a tragic oversight.
The three basic treatment choices are:
Remove the original cause.
Consider asthma to be an allergic disease and look at the air and food supplies for the triggers of asthma. Here is a simple problem-solving approach. If asthmatic; then