In this blog we will briefly review the asthma action plan or different techniques one may use to control and manage asthma, better understand one’s own health with goal of prevention of asthma attack thereby helping control of asthma, decreasing need for medications, and decreasing exacerbation of asthma.  This blog gives a general guideline and one may want to talk to their physician to better understand and coordinate the plan.

Also, different asthma action plans can be found on line for further developing your own plan and coordinate with the family member in case of an emergency on how it needs to be tackled.

  1. Understanding ones own asthma. Have a clear picture from a physician whether the asthma is mild, moderate or severe. Understand the use of medications an correct inhaler technique. Know the difference between a maintenance inhaler and rescue inhaler or nebulizer. How frequently it can be used and what is the maximum dose in 24 hours. Are there other associated conditions with asthma that have been triggered such as postnasal drip, heartburn, etc.
  1. Understand which inhalers your physician has recommended, and what is the regular dose. Is it twice a day? Is it once a day? Or, does it need to be used every 4 hours as needed? For example, Advair Diskus, Symbicort inhaler, Dulera inhaler are twice a day inhalers, but Albuterol inhaler as a rescue can be used every 4 to 6 hours if needed. Singular may be a once a day medication. Rinsing the mouth afte  the use of inhalers may help in preventing oral thrush.
  1. Family plan. Have a documented family plan with the family members if the asthma
    gets worse, and how it should be tackled. In mild situations, the primary care can be contacted.  How will moderate to severe asthma  situations be tackled? Through primary care or the Emergency Room?  Have this be clear with the primary care and family members, and what are the steps that can be taken to prevent an  Emergency Room visit.
  1. Prevention of exacerbation of asthma. Find out different triggers that have been exacerbating the symptoms like allergies, increasing the dripping and asthma symptoms, wheezing, smoking, smoke exposure directly or indirectly.  If one is smoking then he/she needs to quit and at the same time prevent second hand smoke exposure, perfumes, cologne, etc., one needs to avoid this contact.  If someone is working with dust or chemicals use a mask to prevent or to avoid symptoms altogether to avoid this kind of work exposure.
  1. Peak flow meter. One may want to have a peak flow meter, which may have a green, yellow and red zone.  Monitoring the peak flow may help to understand the severity of asthma and once there is  change in the color may contact primary care.  Example: A person with a peak flow in the green zone and if changes to
    yellow zone may be a sign to contact a primary care.
  1. Asthma education. Obtain asthma education through the primary care, other sources like the internet, and educational books and material that provide a basic
    education for asthma.  Also, there  are foods that may trigger bronchospasm like yogurt, dairy products, cold water,  cold drinks, cola, chocholate  etc., which may be avoided. Fruits like bananas may trigger asthma or nasal congestion symptoms  in many that may want to be avoided. Speak to your doctor about a change in diet before making any  dietary changes.
  1. Log of symptoms, inhalers. Keep a regular log of symptoms like wheezing, coughing, postnasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease, sleep symptoms one has and how frequent they are. Also, get input from the family members as many times the one coughing is not aware about the coughing, but the family member is aware. Also, keep a regular log of use of rescue inhaler and review with the primary care or  your lung doctor if you have one.
  1. Sleep symptoms. Are asthma symptoms waking you up at night? How frequent is
    it? Is there nighttime use of inhalers? Are you coughing and wheezing? As asthma improves, the symptoms should  resolve and one should be able to sleep regularly.
  1. Exercise. Regular exercise further helps to control asthma. If someone has exercise-induced asthma, may use a rescue inhaler prior to that. Before you start an  exercise program, check with your primary care.
  1. Pranayama / yoga. Many breathing exercises such as slow deep breathing, alternated nostril breathing if done correctly over a period or time may further
    decrease bronchospasm. If one is interested, he/she may learn many of the simple yoga exercises and by doing it may further help control asthma symptoms along with good sleep, regular exercise, avoiding the triggers of asthma, and remaining vigilant  about the symptoms and its prevention.

11.    Acute infection: In the event of an acute respiratory tract infection, see your primary           care on an urgent basis or if there is an increase in severe symptoms call 9-1-1 or go          to the nearest Emergency Room.

This is a general action plan or something similar one may develop. There are many different states which provide an asthma action plan or one may visit the Center of Disease Control Intervention website for different asthma plan and do ones own research.  This is a general guideline that we have seen that has helped our patients and have found
useful. Please contact your primary care or your pulmonologist and review the asthma plan with your healthcare provider and make appropriate changes as they recommend.
I hope some of these simple measures as stated above help your asthma or someone you may share this information.

Best wishes!

Integrative Medical Treatment & Management Benefits in patients with Bronchial Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

This is the first blog for the web site discussing the need for the integrative medical management and treatment approach for patients with bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  In this blog, we will discuss the standard approach for bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the benefits of adding other modalities to further optimize medical treatment.

Bronchial asthma is a very common respiratory disorder. Almost everyone knows someone in his or her family, friend or co-worker who suffers from bronchial asthma. It has multiple facets and gets worse with time if remains untreated. If untreated, it leads to deterioration of health and increase in medical expenses.  Similarly, the outcome is the same for those with COPD, but it is generally seen in smokers mostly, for which they themselves are responsible. There are a few patients who have COPD as a result of second hand smoke exposure.

Inhalers are key in the treatment of disease control. There are different groups of inhalers used to treat asthma and COPD.  Many are common in its treatment as it is a similar disease but not completely the same either. Bronchial asthma is an airway reversible disease and has good response with bronchodilators but the same is not true in the case of COPD as the bronchodilator has less airway reversibility than asthma.

There are short-acting inhalers, long-acting inhalers, steroid inhalers and other medications, which are taken orally for control of the symptoms. These help to control the symptoms of asthma or COPD, but do not eliminate or decrease the need in the long run.  If the disease is not under control then this increases the cost of health care and dependence on medication.

Standard medial therapy is excellent in helping to control the symptoms of asthma or COPD, but when other alternative modalities are added to the current standard medical management then the chance of slowly improving the asthma and COPD is there. This may help to overall improve the symptoms and cut down the need for inhalers. This may happen in many patients but not all, and still may show some clinical improvement.  This may decrease the need for Emergency visits, urgent care visits or hospitalization.

The integrative medial treatment approach is an addition to other alternative modalities of treatment like Ayurveda, Yoga, Pranayama, exercise, special diet, etc., to the standard medical treatment that one is getting.  The goal is to use the multidisciplinary approach to control the disease of asthma and/or COPD, as it is simple, yet a complex disease that has multiple mechanisms of manifestation and exacerbation. A multi-modality treatment approach helps rather than just using the standard treatment of just inhalers or nebulizers alone. This is our observation in our practice in the group of patients who prefer the approach of integrative modalities of treatment verses the standard medication treatment alone protocol.

One may think, can such kind of integrative treatment approach help? Why does adding a regimen like exercise, special diet, Ayurvedic herbs, improvement of sleep through good sleep hygiene and lifestyle, etc., help?

There are no standard medical trials or any head-to-head medical trials involving the findings found in medical literature to prove or disprove it, but it is our experience that it helps patients with asthma and/or COPD from our observation of hundreds of patients having been followed over many years in our Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Clinic.  We have taken many of the observations from the literature of Ayurveda and incorporated in current medical treatment.  We have tried to incorporate two different medical systems for overall improvement of asthma or COPD.  It is like using the parallel software of an Apple computer to connect two different operating systems of Microsoft and MAC to get the benefits of both software and operating systems.

We have seen that Ayurveda gets incorporated better with standard medical treatment and it helps the patient. Ayurveda is the oldest documented medical literature. Asthma is not a new disease it has existed for thousands of years so why not use that data and old observation of Ayurveda to help patients currently suffering from the disease and incorporate it with current medical science to further optimize the patient’s health?

By adding the basic principles of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest medical science, we have seen that gradually, over many months and in 2-3 years the body starts changing. One may say that toxins come out of the body or the airway reactivity decreases. Or it may be part of rejuvenation of the body. Thereby slowly the exacerbation of the asthma or COPD symptoms mayl decrease. One needs to improve the digestion, postnasal drip, heartburn symptoms, irritable bowel symptoms, excess gas or bloating sensation, irritability or lack of sleep or inadequate sleep one has with asthma and/or COPD.

Nature has pairs of opposites forces. As there is a disease in the body so exists a healing system in the body, also. We would like to tap into the second one.  The body has inherent properties of healing on its own, it just needs adequate condition and time, and if it happens then there is a high chance that the body can get better. Although there are so many variable factors, there are few known and most of are unknown to us but the body has a tendency to heal and get better.

A disciplinary approach is needed with clinical monitoring of asthma and COPD treatment and management by addressing every issue of the symptoms one has one by one and giving time for the body to change. This will subsequently bring improvement in breathing, decrease respiratory infection, decrease in need of rescue inhaler or nebulizer, sleep improvement, etc.

Because of this kind of need for medical management of asthma and COPD, we have designed the bronchial asthma and COPD integrative medical treatment protocol to help patients who are interested in this kind of medical approach.  The program is clinically monitored for underlying asthma and COPD disease progress.

The asthma and COPD program uses the best of eastern and the western medical science to optimize underlying bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  We have used this approach on hundreds of patient with excellent results.