Ayurvedic treatment for Asthma in children

Asthma in children

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
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Asthma in children Ayurvedic treatment


Asthma refers to the condition where the airways in the lungs swell and become narrow. They also produce extra mucus thus making breathing very difficult. At the same time, they trigger other respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.1

Children can also suffer from asthma, in fact more than adults. Many children who have asthma, will show symptoms before the age of 5. Asthma can affect the day to day life and create problems with schooling, playing and development.  With adequate care and precautions, children with asthma can lead normal lives with reduced flare ups and better control to avoid missing school and other activities. 2

As per Ayurveda, Asthma is described under the aegis of ‘Shwas’ or ‘Tamakshwas’.  Shwas is one of the major diseases that causes a lot of medical emergencies.

Aama (toxin of undigested food) is formed in the body due to malabsorption of rasa dhatu (Tissues of nourishment), improper food habits, agnimandya (Weak digestive fire). This aama combines with vata aggravated by nidan sevana (causative factors) and creates aavarna in strotasa (enwrapment in the system) - obstructing dhatu vahan (causing disturbance in normal process).2

The airway inflammation in asthma may be due to sama vata (A subtype of vata), which creates shopha (inflammation) in strotasa (Respiratory system). This sama vata agitates the sthanik kapha dosha (local kapha factors) in the uras (Chest), thereby causing a mucus plug – that causes the obstruction. The awarana (enwrapment) of kapha produces symptoms of difficulty in breathing which is pratyatma linga (distinguishing symptom) of Tamakshwas (Asthma).2


Asthma in children


The immune system of children is in a stage of development. Hence even minor allergies can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma.

The triggers of asthma are different for different people and can include1:

  • Allergen in the air like pollen, dust, mites, spores etc
  • An infection of the Respiratory tract
  • Any heavy physical activity
  • Very cold climate or air
  • Smoke and other air pollutants
  • Certain medications
  • Stress


Asthma in children


Asthma symptoms do not widely differ in children compared to adults, but often they may present as fatigue in children rather than a  full blown breathlessness.2

Some common signs and symptoms of asthma, in children under the age of 5, are2:

  • Regular coughing
  • Wheezing sounds while breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Repeated bronchitis

The presentation generally varies in children. While some may have minor symptoms on day to day basis but can suffer from a severe asthma attack suddenly; other children show mild to moderate but consistent symptoms.2

  • Infants may show slowness in feeding or breathlessness during feeding.2
  • Toddlers may be tired easily and cough with little running around.2
  • In a lot of children <5yrs, their asthma attacks can be triggered or worsened by colds and other respiratory infections.2


Asthma in children


Physical exam

In order to rule out other similar conditions — such as a respiratory infection or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) —doctors will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your signs and symptoms and about any other health problems.1

Tests to measure lung function

A lung (pulmonary) function test helps determine how much air moves in and out during breathing.1

These tests may include:

  • Spirometry: This test checks for how much air can be exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.
  • Peak flow: A peak flow meter is a simple device that measures how hard you can breathe out. Lower than usual peak flow readings are a sign your lungs may not be working as well and that your asthma may be getting worse.
  • Lung function tests: These tests are done before and after taking a bronchodilator drug. If the lung function improves with use of a bronchodilator, it's likely you have asthma.


Asthma in children


As per Ayurveda, Ahar (food) and Vihar (regimen) causing Vata and Kapha aggravation should be avoided and a good life style is necessary for better quality of life.4-5

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Light warm easily digestible foods should be given
  • Avoid sour food
  • Avoid deep fried and processed food having preservatives.
  • Avoid foods such as curd, rice, buttermilk, lentils, paneer, cheese, sugar etc.
  • Drink warm water.
  • Avoid heavy foods like banana, over eating
  • Take light dinner
  • Maintain a gap of an hour in-between, dinner and sleep.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Avoid cold water shower or bath, especially head bath, day sleep, excessive sleep, sedentary life.
  • Keep your child away from passive cigarette or tobacco smoke
  • Protect your child from air pollutants using a paper/cloth mask etc.
  • Avoid constipation in kids


Asthma in children
  1. How is sinusitis caused? Does it have anything to do with cold foods?

Sinusitis is basically an inflammation of the membranes of para-nasal sinuses or the group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity. Colds, bacterial infections, allergies, asthma and other health conditions can cause sinusitis, or inflammation of the para-nasal sinuses.

In some people, cold foods may flare the condition and aggravate the allergies resulting in sinus problems. Such people should avoid eating cold foods.

  1. What are symptoms of Asthma? How do I know if someone may have asthma?

Symptoms of Asthma differ from person to person. Some may have infrequent asthma attacks, some have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or some have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma signs and symptoms include-

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
  1. My reports show a low platelet count, do I have dengue?

Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult, because its signs and symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases — such as malaria, chikungunya, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe any contact you may have had with mosquitoes. Certain laboratory tests can detect evidence of the dengue viruses, but test results usually come back too late to help direct treatment decisions. A low platelet count is generally seen in dengue but is not the only isolated finding. Fever, body-ache, skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever and minor bleeding accompanied by low platelet count is conclusive of Dengue.

  1. How does one contract typhoid? 

Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria called S. typhi. This bacteria spreads through ingestion of contaminated food or water, and occasionally through direct contact with someone who is infected. In developing nations, where typhoid fever is endemic, most cases result from contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. The majority of people in industrialized countries pick up typhoid bacteria while traveling and spread it to others through the fecal-oral route or contamination of food and drinking water with fecal contact that may occur due to flies, etc.

This means that S. typhi is passed in the feces and sometimes in the urine of infected people. You can contract the infection if you eat food handled by someone with typhoid fever who hasn't washed hands carefully after using the toilet. You can also become infected by drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.

  1. Can malaria only spread from mosquitoes?

Although the commonest cause of malarial fever is due to a bite by the infected female anopheles mosquito, this is not necessarily the only way one can be affected. 

Because the parasites that cause malaria affect red blood cells, people can also catch malaria from exposures to infected blood, including:

  • From mother to unborn child
  • Through blood transfusions
  • By sharing needles used to inject drugs
  • Organ transplants
  1. Does yellowness of eyes always mean there is a liver problem?

In some people who eat large amounts of food rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots, squash, and some melons), their skin may look slightly yellow, but their eyes do not turn yellow. This condition is not jaundice and is unrelated to liver disease.

Yellowness of the eyes is usually due to the leaked bilirubin pigment in the blood stream. This is called jaundice and most probably occurs in cases of liver inflammation. Such patients will also have a visible yellowness of skin.

  1. How does one get elephantiasis? 

Elephantiasis is basically swelling of the lymph glands due to an infection. The disease spreads from person to person by mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person's blood enter and infect the mosquito. People get lymphatic filariasis from the bite of an infected mosquito. The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin, and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessels they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about 5–7 years. The adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms, called microfilariae, into the blood. People with the worms in their blood can give the infection to others through mosquitoes.

  1. What is the difference between Pneumonia and Pneumonitis?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Pneumonitis on the other hand, is a general term that refers to inflammation of lung tissue. Although pneumonia is technically a type of pneumonitis because the infection causes inflammation, most doctors refer to other causes of lung inflammation when they use the term "pneumonitis”.

Factors that can cause pneumonitis include exposure to airborne irritants at your job or from your hobbies. In addition, some types of cancer treatments and dozens of drugs can cause pneumonitis.

  1. Is rheumatic fever same as rheumatoid arthritis?

They are different. Rheumatic fever occurs after an infection of the throat with a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A streptococcus. Group A streptococcus infections of the throat cause strep throat or, less commonly, scarlet fever. Group A streptococcus infections of the skin or other parts of the body rarely trigger rheumatic fever. The exact link between strep infection and rheumatic fever isn't clear, but it appears that the bacterium ‘plays tricks’ on the immune system.

Rheumatic fever usually occurs in younger population especially children while rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammation of the body that mostly affects the joints in adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that certain cells of the immune system do not work properly and start attacking healthy tissues — especially the joints. The one that affects young children is called stilts disease.

  1. Every time I touch cold water I get these spots on my skin. There is no other complaint. Is this because of some allergy to water?

You may have a condition called Urticaria. It is a skin reaction that causes red or white itchy spots on the skin. There is a type of Urticaria called cold urticaria, in which skin that has been in contact with cold develops reddish, itchy spots. The severity of cold urticaria symptoms varies widely. Some people have minor reactions to cold, while others have severe reactions. Swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a whole-body (systemic) reaction.


Asthma in children
  1. Mayo Clinic. Asthma. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/basics/causes/con-20026992 accessed Aug 30th 2016
  2. Mayo Clinic. Treating asthma in children under 5. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-asthma/in-depth/asthma-in-children/art-20044376 accessed Aug 31st 2016
  3. Chaudhari VS, Vaidya MS. Management Of Tamak Shwas (Brasthma) With Current Evidence And Ayurvedic Rasaushadhis. IAMJ Sept 2015; Vol. 3(9):2742-46
  4. Choudhary K, Srivastava AK. A Holistic Approach Of Ayurveda Towards Bronchial Asthma. World J Pharm Pharmaceut Sci. 2016; Vol. 5(6):2368-76
  5. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011. Chapter 17

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