Breathing Problems: Causes, Tests, and Treatments
By Stephanie Dawson
There is no worse feeling than trying to breathe and feeling like your lungs just can’t get air. This happens on an everyday basis for those with severe asthma, COPD, and other respiratory disorders. Others get along fine most days, but when it’s hot and humid, or with activity after a period of being sedentary, they lose their ability to effectively get enough air. Many times this is from allergies or asthma, a slight case that is activated by external conditions.
Many studies have been done on the effects of cold air in those with respiratory problems, and scientists are studying more of the opposite, effects of hot and humid air. Airways constrict in people with asthma with warm, humid air, it can also lead to bouts of coughing. Hot and humid air has little to no effect on people without asthma. Symptoms of breathing problems include shortness of breath or dyspnea, increased heart rate, nasal flaring, excess chest expansion, abnormal breathing sounds like wheezing or gasping for air, sweating, and changes in skin color from becoming more pale, red, or a bluish color.
Breathing difficulties can be caused by allergies, asthma, pregnancy, obesity, anxiety, infections, heart conditions, and lung disorders, to name a few. For any type of breathing problems you should consult your doctor in case it’s something serious. There are some natural remedies that can work alone in some cases, and with medication in more serious ones. Keep your house clean and free from mold and mildew. Avoid allergens when possible. Include apples and onions in your diet. Practice meditation and deep breathing exercises. Try to stay active as much as possible. If you smoke, please try to quit, if you don’t, good job!
Mentholated and camphor rubs to the chest are beneficial to many. Drinking hot tea, especially licorice, can open airways. The supplement butterbur can help improve airflow to the lungs. Boswellia extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease breathing. Dried ivy leaf can be helpful for mild asthma symptoms, it is not helpful for those with COPD. Gingko biloba is most often used to improve memory but a study at the University of Michigan found that it blocks a compound that instigates asthma symptoms. Lobelia can help with asthma and COPD by working as an expectorant.
Work with your doctor to find what works best for you, just as people react differently to prescriptions there will be a varied response to any natural remedies. What works for your friends may not work for you, and what works for you may not help others you know. It’s a process of trial and error. Keep the air flowing as well as possible.