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Asthma

Asthma: Types, causes, and diagnosis

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Asthma is a chronic disease with an effect on the airways. This causes wheezing, which can make breathing difficult. Some triggers include allergic or irritant exposure, viruses, exercise, emotional stress and other factors.

Asthma causes the internal walls of the airways, or the bronchial tubes, to swell and become inflamed.

The airways will swell during an asthma attack, the muscles around them will contract and it is hard for air to pass in and out of the lungs.

Around 7.9 percent of people in the United States had asthma in 2017. There are several forms of asthma and it may induce asthma or trigger an acute attack by many factors.

This article looks at the types, causes, and triggers of asthma, and how it is diagnosed by a doctor.

What is asthma?

A man suffering from asthma
A person with asthma may experience symptoms when they exercise.

Asthma is a condition which affects the airways in the long term. It involves inflammation and narrowing within the lungs which limits the supply of air.

A person with asthma may experience:

  • tightness in the chest
  • wheezing
  • breathlessness
  • coughing
  • increased mucus production

When the symptoms get severe an asthma attack occurs. Attacks can start suddenly, and can range from life-threatening to mild.

Swelling in the airways can in some cases prevent the oxygen from reaching the lungs. This means oxygen is unable to penetrate the bloodstream or reach vital organs. Those experiencing severe symptoms therefore need urgent medical attention.

A doctor may prescribe appropriate treatments, and advise a person on the best ways to manage their symptoms of asthma.

Types

Asthma can occur in many ways, and for many different reasons, but often the triggers are the same. These contain airborne pollutants, viruses, pet dander, cigarette smoke and mold.

The following sections list several common types of asthma.

Childhood asthma

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. It can occur at any age, but it is significantly more common in children than in adults.

Children aged 5–14 years were most likely to have an asthma in 2017. The condition affects 9.7 percent of people in this age group. This also affected 4.4 percent of children aged 0–4 years.

In the same year, 7.7 per cent of people aged 18 and over were affected by asthma.

Some common triggers of childhood asthma, the American Lung Association says, include:

  • respiratory infections and colds
  • cigarette smoke, including secondhand tobacco smoke
  • allergens
  • air pollutants, including ozone and particle pollution, both indoors and outside
  • exposure to cold air
  • sudden changes in temperature
  • excitement
  • stress
  • exercise

If a child begins developing asthma it is important to seek medical care, because it can be life-threatening. A doctor may give advice on some of the best ways to manage that condition.

In some cases, as the child reaches adulthood asthma can improve. It’s a lifelong condition for many people though.

Adult-onset asthma

Asthma can develop at any age, even adulthood. Adults are more likely to have chronic symptoms than children according to one 2013 report.

Some factors affecting the risk of developing an adult asthma include:

  • respiratory illness
  • allergies and exposure to allergens
  • hormonal factors
  • obesity
  • stress
  • smoking

Occupational asthma

Occupational asthma results from the on-the-job reaction to an allergen or irritant.

In those with sensitivity or allergy, allergens can cause asthma at the following workplaces.

  • bakeries, flour mills, and kitchens
  • hospitals and other healthcare settings
  • pet shops, zoos, and laboratories where animals are present
  • farms and other agricultural settings

In the following occupations, irritants can trigger asthma symptoms:

  • car repairs and manufacturing
  • engineering and metalwork
  • woodwork and carpentry
  • electronics and assembly industries
  • hairdressing salons
  • indoor swimming pools

Those with a higher risk include people who:

The work environment of an individual can cause a return of childhood asthma or the onset of adult-onset asthma.

Difficult-to-control and severe asthma

Research suggests that about 5–10 percent of asthma patients have severe asthma.

Some people experience severe symptoms for reasons not directly related to asthma. They may not have learnt the right way to use an inhaler, for example.

Others experience severe refractory asthma. In these cases, the asthma does not respond to treatment — even with high doses of medication or the proper use of inhalants. According to one study in 2015, this type of asthma may affect 3.6 percent of people with the condition.

Eosinophilic asthma is another form of asthma that, in extreme cases, does not respond to the normal medications. While some people with eosinophilic asthma cope with regular asthma medications, others may benefit from different “biologic” therapies. One type of biological medication reduces the number of eosinophils involved in an allergic reaction that can trigger asthma, which is a type of blood cell involved.

Seasonal asthma

This form of asthma occurs at certain times of the year in response to allergens that are present only in the surrounding environment. For example, cold winter air, or spring or summer pollen may trigger seasonal asthma symptoms.

People with seasonal asthma still have the condition for the rest of the year, but there are usually no symptoms that they experience.

However, asthma doesn’t always originate from an allergy.

Causes and triggers

Health professionals do not know exactly what causes asthma, but genetic and environmental factors both seem to play significant roles.

Some factors could be both causes and triggers, such as sensitization to an allergen. Some other sections are listed below.

Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy appears to increase the likelihood that the fetus will develop asthma later in life according to one study. Some women often suffer worsening symptoms of asthma when they are pregnant.

Obesity

One study from 2014 indicated that people with obesity tend to have higher rates of asthma than those without it. The authors note that children with obesity who lost weight had also seen changes in their symptoms of asthma in one study.

There is now a growing body of evidence indicating that both conditions require a chronic inflammatory response, and that may explain the link.

Allergies

Allergies develop when an individual’s body becomes sensitized to a particular substance. If the sensitization has occurred, each time they come into contact with the substance, the individual will be susceptible to an allergic reaction.

Not every asthma person has an allergy but there is often a connection. Exposure to specific allergens can trigger symptoms in people with allergic diseases.

One study in 2013 found that 60–80 per cent of children and young asthma adults are sensitive to at least one allergen.

Smoking tobacco

According to American Lung Association, cigarette smoking can trigger asthma symptoms.

Asthma can also cause damage to the lungs, even without smoking. This can increase the risk of developing various lung conditions related to tobacco, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and may aggravate the symptoms.

Environmental factors

Air pollution can affect the development and triggers of asthma, both inside and outside of the home.

Some allergens inside the home include:

  • mold
  • dust
  • animal hair and dander
  • fumes from household cleaners and paints
  • cockroaches
  • feathers

Other triggers in the home and outdoors include:

  • pollen
  • air pollution from traffic and other sources
  • ground-level ozone

Stress

Stress can cause symptoms of asthma, but so can many other emotions. Joy, anger, excitement, laughter, crying and other emotional reactions all can trigger an asthma attack.

Scientists have also found evidence to suggest that people with mental health conditions such as depression may be more likely to experience asthma.

Others have proposed that long-term stress may result in epigenetic changes contributing to chronic asthma.

Genetic factors

There is proof that asthma occurs in families. Recently, scientists have mapped out some of the genetic changes that may play a role in its development.

In some cases the responsibility lies with epigenetic changes. These occur when an environmental factor is altering a gene.

Hormonal factors

Around 5.5% of males and 9.7% of females experience asthma. Additionally, symptoms may vary in the menstrual cycle depending on the reproductive stage and point of a female.

For example, symptoms can worsen during menstruation during their reproductive years , compared with other times of the month. Doctors call this asthma perimenstrual. Asthma symptoms can however improve during menopause.

Some scientists suggest that hormonal activity can affect immune function, resulting in the airways becoming hypersensitive.

People with sporadic asthma can also only experience symptoms occasionally.

Diagnosis

A doctor will ask the person about their symptoms, the medical history of their family and their personal history of medicine. They may also conduct a physical exam, and can conduct several other tests.

They will also note when the doctor makes their diagnosis whether the asthma is mild, intermittent, moderate or severe. They’ll also try to pinpoint the type.

People can keep a log of their symptoms and possible causes to assist the doctor in making a precise diagnosis. This should include information on potential workplace irritants.

The sections below discuss some other tests a doctor may conduct to help diagnose asthma.

Physical exam

The doctor concentrates on the upper respiratory tract, chest, and skin. They’ll listen for wheezing signs that may indicate an obstructed airway and asthma.

They will also check for:

  • a runny nose
  • swollen nasal passages
  • any growths on the inside of the nose

They will also check the skin for signs of eczema or hives.

Asthma tests

A lung function test may also be performed by your doctor to assess how well the lungs work.

A test on spirometry is one example of a test on lung function. The person will need to breathe in deeply and then breathe out forcefully into a tube. The tube links up to a machine called a spirometer, which shows how much air a person inhales and exhales and the speed at which they expel the air from the lungs.

Then the doctor compares these results with those of a person who is similarly aged but who has no asthma.

The doctor may then give the person a bronchodilator drug — to open the air passages — to confirm the diagnosis, and repeat the test. The person may have asthma if those second results are better.

However, this test may not be suitable for young children. Instead, the doctor may prescribe 4–6 weeks of asthma medicines, and monitor any changes in their symptoms.

Other tests

Other tests for diagnosis include:

A challenge test. This test allows a doctor to assess how cold air or exercise affect a person’s breathing.

A skin prick. A doctor can use this test to identify a specific allergy.

Tests to rule out other conditions. Sputum tests, X-rays, and other tests can help rule out sinusitis, bronchitis, and other conditions that can affect a person’s breathing.

Summary

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes swelling in the airways. It can affect people of any age, and may range from mild to severe symptoms.

Effective treatment that can help a person live a full and active asthma-life is available in most cases.

Q:

Can asthma develop into other harmful lung diseases, such as COPD or emphysema?

A:

Asthma is a risk factor for COPD and people with long-standing asthma, especially if they have severe asthma as children, are at high risk of developing COPD.

Emphysema, on the other hand, is not asthma-related although its symptoms may be similar. Cigarette smoking almost always causes this.

Answers represent our medical experts’ opinions. All material is purely informational and medical advice should not be considered.

Asthma

Is it possible for me to enlist in the military if I have asthma?

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Many people want to join the military, but the military has severe enrollment standards and qualifications. Good general health and adequate physical fitness are two of the most important conditions.

In the United States, most people with asthma are ineligible to join any branch of the military. However, a person may be granted a waiver to enlist based on their medical history, general outlook, and the severity of their condition.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways and makes breathing difficult. Symptoms can be triggered by a variety of causes, including changes in the weather and severe physical exertion. About 20 million adults in the United States suffer from the condition.

Enlisting with asthma

usa army
Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

People with asthma who are over the age of 13 are banned from joining the military, according to the Department of Defense’s 2018 Medical Standards for Military Service: Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction. Those who have not had asthma or received treatment for it by this age, however, are eligible to enroll.

People who are currently suffering from asthma symptoms are automatically excluded. An asthma evaluation will search for indications of persistent cough, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath that has lasted longer than 12 months, according to the Army Medical Department.

People with asthma who are older than 13 years old may still be able to join the military, but a medical waiver will be necessary. A waiver is granted based on the length of time since a person last experienced symptoms or received treatment, the severity of their asthma, and their overall outlook.

Although the rules are the same for all branches of the military, how the medical waiver process is handled varies. The following are the processes to potentially receiving a medical waiver:

  • Send the recruiter a completed medical prescreen form, which will be forwarded to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
  • The form is reviewed by a doctor at MEPS. They have the power to disqualify someone on the spot or schedule them for a medical check.
  • A person may only be requested to produce a signed declaration verifying that they have not had asthma or received treatment for it after their 13th birthday during their visit to MEPS. Those who have had asthma since they were 13 years old must submit all of their medical documents, including hospital and outpatient treatment records.
  • A person will be subjected to examinations, including a physical examination and a pulmonary function test (PFT), in addition to presenting their medical records . Following the examination, the doctor will determine if the person is medically qualified or will be temporarily or permanently disqualified.
  • Anyone who has received a permanent disqualification will have their records and medical recommendation sent to the recruiting commander or a representative of the service by MEPS. This person will decide whether or not to obtain a waiver.
  • If the recruiting commander requests a waiver, the waiver request will be reviewed by military medical officials from various levels of the organization. They will vote yes or no until the request reaches a high-ranking doctor, who will make the final decision.

Medical history and current requirements

Previously, anyone with a history of asthma, regardless of age, was automatically barred from joining the military. However, in 2014, the Department of Defense changed its policy to exclude just individuals who had had asthma since they were 13 years old.

People with a childhood history of asthma did not contribute significantly to military attrition or hospitalizations due to asthma, according to a 2008 study.

Branch-specific requirements

Although the requirements for applying for a waiver are the same for all branches, each branch has its own set of guidelines.

Army

Only people who have not had asthma after their 13th birthday are eligible to enroll, as is the case with the general criteria. In addition, if any of the following apply, the army will not deploy present soldiers:

  • repetitive intake of oral corticosteroids
  • a recent visit to the emergency room
  • the inability to wear protective gear

Air Force

The Air Force said in 2017 that individuals with a questionable history of asthma would be considered for a waiver provided they passed the methacholine challenge, a sort of test that determines whether a person’s airway is susceptible to spasms.

Navy

Any history of asthma, even a mild form, can disqualify a candidate for aviation training and duties, according to the Navy’s Aeromedical Reference and Waiver Guide (ARWG). They can, however, get a waiver if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • normal methacholine challenge within 1 year of the waiver application
  • an accomplished ARWG worksheet
  • currently has no symptoms and has had no symptoms and no medication for at least 5 years
  • normal PFT within 1 year of the waiver application

Marines

For health waiver applications, the Marine Corps follows the same guidelines as the Army. Because the branch is known as the most elite arm of the US military, it must always maintain its high standards.

Coast Guard

People who have been approved by MEPS, according to the Coast Guard, do not need to be reviewed again. Recruiters who believe an applicant has been disqualified incorrectly can send any appropriate paperwork to the commander for examination.

Common myths

There are many fallacies about the military, not just in terms of health. Some of these are debunked below.

Those who get asthma while serving in the military will be discharged

The military’s Medical Standards for Retention state that a person will only be discharged if their condition persists despite treatment and prevents them from executing their duties satisfactorily. Some people, however, may receive an alternative assignment that is less likely to cause asthma.

People join the military to supplement their income.

The military “no longer primarily recruits those from the most disadvantaged socioeconomic situations,” according to a 2020 research.

People with less talent join the military.

According to the same 2020 survey, the majority of candidates had ordinary to slightly above-average cognitive abilities. Despite popular belief that increased technology necessitates lower skill levels, studies contend that people with greater skill levels are better equipped to work with complicated and sophisticated technology.

Women find it difficult to enter the military.

Except for the marines, where women make up only 8% of the officers, women make up about one-fifth of all officers in every branch. Furthermore, in most branches, the proportion of women officers was larger than that of enlisted personnel.

People who join the military after high school do not have the opportunity to further their education.

Members of the military are eligible for tuition help under the Military Tuition Assistance Program, which pays up to 100% of tuition and school expenses, according to the Department of Defense’s stated limits.

Other “top-up” programs, such as the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, reimburse the costs not covered by tuition assistance.

The ASVAB is not necessary.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) establishes a person’s eligibility to join the military in the United States. Furthermore, to qualify for specific military roles, a high score on particular ASVAB areas is required.

Support services

Because asthma is a chronic condition, people who have had it before may experience symptoms again as they get older. Furthermore, people who already have asthma may notice that their symptoms increase over time.

According to a 2018 longitudinal study, combat-experienced individuals had a 24–30 percent higher risk of getting asthma than those who had not been deployed.

According to a 2015 study, it is critical that military members receive the proper diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. To validate whether the diagnosis is correct, the authors propose performing both PFT and bronchoprovocation testing, such as the methacholine challenge test.

The Military Health System (MHS) guarantees that all active duty and reserve soldiers are healthy and prepared to perform their duties. Medical benefits and treatment are also provided by the MHS to its members and beneficiaries, such as family members and retirees.

Conclusion

People with active asthma are not allowed to join the military. Those who have a history of asthma but haven’t had any symptoms after the age of 13 might request a medical waiver to prove their eligibility.

A medical waiver is granted on a case-by-case basis. It depends on a number of circumstances, including the person’s age when they last experienced symptoms and the severity of the condition.

Furthermore, the United States military has stringent medical requirements for recruitment, with each branch having its own set of requirements. People who want to enroll should read the conditions carefully to verify that they are eligible.

Sources:

  • https://www.health.mil/About-MHS
  • https://www.aafa.org/asthma-facts/
  • https://media.defense.gov/2018/Jul/05/2001939216/-1/-1/0/CIM_6000_1F.PDF
  • https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/demographics-us-military
  • https://www.qmo.amedd.army.mil/asthma/militaryspecificissues.pdf
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/can-i-enlist-in-the-military-with-asthma
  • https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article/173/4/381/4557665
  • https://www.va.gov/education/about-gi-bill-benefits/montgomery-active-duty/
  • https://www.va.gov/education/about-gi-bill-benefits/post-9-11/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375480/
  • https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/187/10/2136/5035668?login=true
  • https://www.officialasvab.com/

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Allergy

Low histamine diet: What to know

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People who get symptoms like sneezing, itching, or hives in reaction to histamine-containing meals may benefit from a reduced histamine diet. Histamine is a substance found in the human body and some foods.

The low histamine diet can assist a person in determining which foods are responsible for their symptoms. They may notice a difference if they avoid such items. This procedure can be helped by the assistance of a nutritionist.

This page discusses how histamine affects the body, what histamine intolerance is, and which foods people should avoid. It also includes a sample meal plan as well as grocery shopping and preparation advice.

Histamine

 low histamine diet

Histamine is a chemical that controls how the body reacts to external objects and injuries.

Histamine is released when the body reacts to something it considers to be toxic. This causes inflammation and dilation of the blood vessels in the body, resulting in symptoms such as:

Despite the discomfort that these sensations might produce, histamine plays an important and complicated part in the body’s defenses.

Histamine has a ‘paradoxical nature,’ according to a 2018 study, because it can both increase and reduce inflammatory levels.

Experiments in the lab Histamine, according to the scientists, may aid wound healing and limit tumor development. However, these findings have yet to be duplicated in people.

Intolerance to histamine

Foods that contain or release histamine might cause symptoms in certain people. Histamine intolerance is the medical term for this condition.

Histamine intolerance has symptoms that are similar to those of an allergic response and can impact several body systems.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

The enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) is responsible for the breakdown of histamine in the body.

People with lower DAO levels have greater histamine levels and are thus more likely to develop allergies.

A short research found that DAO activity was reduced in 10 of 14 people who visited an allergy clinic. In addition, 13 people said DAO supplementation helped them with at least one symptom.

DAO activity was shown to be lower in 316 people with probable histamine intolerance than in those who did not have the condition. After 6–12 months on a reduced histamine diet, 20 of the participants’ symptoms improved or eliminated.

Histamine has different effects based on age, sex, and heredity. Histamine intolerance appears to be linked to the gut lining and gut flora.

People with histamine intolerance were compared to those with food intolerances and those with no intolerances at all in a 2018 study. Histamine intolerance was associated with a reduction in bacterial diversity in the gut as well as a compromised gut lining.

Histamine is produced by several bacterial species found naturally in various foods and probiotic supplements, which may exacerbate symptoms of histamine sensitivity.

Is a low-histamine diet beneficial?

The low histamine diet tries to alleviate histamine sensitivity and allergy symptoms. The diet may be beneficial for certain people, however there is insufficient evidence to support this claim.

A short 2018 research found that a low-histamine diet for four weeks helped individuals with hives feel better.

Low histamine diets have also been proved to assist people with atopic dermatitis and suspected histamine sensitivity minimize symptoms.

More high-quality research on histamine intolerance are needed currently in order to better understand the condition and the best therapies.

According to an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Diet and Dietetics, people with histamine intolerance should take a personalized approach to nutrition.

Medication, stress levels, and a person’s overall health all have an impact on what works best for them.

In 2017, research suggested that dieting should be done in stages. This comprises avoiding histamine-containing meals for 10–14 days before resuming them for up to 6 weeks. This can be used to determine a person’s histamine tolerance.

People should get expert nutritional guidance before attempting any form of restrictive diet to ensure they are getting appropriate nutrients and to avoid an unwarranted deterioration in their quality of life.

Foods to stay away from

Histamine levels are greater in the following foods:

  • spinach
  • eggplant
  • tomato
  • avocado
  • some types of fish
  • aged cheeses
  • processed meats
  • wine and beer
  • sauerkraut
  • fermented products

According to studies, even if a food does not contain histamine, it might “release” it in the body. Scientists aren’t sure how this happens, however certain people may have an allergic reaction to certain meals, such as:

  • milk
  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • kiwi
  • strawberry
  • pineapple
  • plum

Foods containing amines, which are chemically similar to histamine, can also compete for DAO. This implies that if a person consumes a lot of these foods, histamine will not be broken down as rapidly, which might result in symptoms.

Foods that contain other amines include:

According to some sources, the following foods are strong in histamine or histamine-releasing enzymes, or they inhibit the DAO enzyme:

  • yeast extract
  • black tea
  • Mate tea
  • energy drinks
  • pickled and canned foods
  • chocolate and cocoa products
  • vinegars
  • wheatgerm

Example diet plan

The following is an example of a reduced histamine diet that might be followed while monitoring symptoms.

Breakfast options

  • apple, melon, and pear fruit salad with chopped pistachios
  • smoothie made with mango, coconut milk, chia seeds, and kale
  • puffed rice with coconut milk
  • oatmeal made with water or coconut milk

Lunch options

  • cottage cheese and cucumber on toast
  • quinoa and herb salad
  • chicken, lettuce, and grated carrot sandwich
  • chicken and kale salad with chopped grapes

Dinner options

  • Pasta with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and chicken or borlotti beans.
  • Low histamine fish, such as trout or cod, freshly caught and served with zucchini and roasted carrots.
  • Homemade turkey burger with sweet potato wedges.
  • Chicken with new potatoes, broccoli, and green beans.

Snacks

  • grapes
  • celery sticks
  • apple slices and natural peanut butter
  • blueberries
  • pistachios
  • carrot sticks
  • cottage cheese

Other suggestions

The amount of histamine in a dish is affected by its freshness. Learning how different methods of manufacturing and storage affect histamine levels in food is a good idea.

It’s also important to consider how a person buys for and prepares meals.

A person with histamine intolerance can keep track of their symptoms and perhaps minimize them by:

  • eating foods as soon as possible after purchase
  • keeping a food journal to record symptoms and triggers
  • planning meals in advance
  • asking restaurants about their ingredients when eating out
  • buying fresh food, shopping more often if necessary

Histamine levels are also influenced by several drugs and supplements. If a person thinks anything they’re taking is making their symptoms worse, they should talk to their doctor.

Conclusion

Someone suffering from histamine intolerance may benefit from a low-histamine diet. Planning a variety of meals, avoiding foods high in histamine, and setting aside time to make fresh foods can all help a person manage their symptoms.

If someone feels they may have histamine intolerance, they should seek medical care immediately.

When adopting a restricted diet, people must ensure that they do not miss out on critical nutrients. People should seek the counsel of a certified dietitian or nutritionist before embarking on a long-term exclusion diet.

Sources:

  • https://www.jpsr.pharmainfo.in/Documents/Volumes/vol7Issue06/jpsr07061526.pdf
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129797/
  • https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01454-3/fulltext
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5806734/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23579881/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/low-histamine-diet
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5346110/
  • https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/7/12/205/htm
  • http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/08_18/pdf/10.26402/jpp.2018.4.09.pdf
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839887/
  • https://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/the-food-diary/the-food-list/
  • https://www.aafa.org/allergy-symptoms/

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Asthma

Lung supplements: What to know

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Coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up mucus or blood, and chest pain are all people of lung problems. Some companies claim that their vitamins and supplements can help boost lung health. However, medical evidence is still needed to back up these claims. Coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up mucus or blood, and chest pain are all people of lung problems. Some companies claim that their vitamins and supplements can help boost lung health. However, medical evidence is still needed to back up these claims.

a lady taking pills

This page discusses how supplements may aid the lungs, when this may be beneficial, how to choose, and when to consult a doctor.

About lungs and supplements

Lung health is an important component of the respiratory system. They enable fresh oxygen into the body while also removing waste gases such as carbon dioxide.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a person can keep their lungs healthy by:

  • not smoking
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • being physically active
  • being mindful of air pollution
  • taking cold and flu precautions

There has been minimal research into how supplements can improve lung health. However, according to one 2017 study, vitamin D aids in the promotion of respiratory health and the prevention of infections.

N-acetylcysteine

According to a 2017 review, clinicians may recommend N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to treat several illnesses caused by unstable atoms.

NAC is a safe and potent antioxidant that can aid with illnesses like asthma and chronic bronchitis when taken as a dietary supplement.

However, more research is needed to determine the entire effects of NAC on the respiratory system.

When should you take lung supplements?

A person suffering from any of the following medical issues may want to consider taking supplementary supplements to improve their lung health:

One study published in 2019 looked at the impact of supplements on the airways of people with asthma who smoked or did not smoke. The author concludes that there were no overall good impacts, and that disease rates increased in several cases.

Supplement security

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledges that supplements are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as prescription pharmaceuticals.

The FDA’s participation in supplement safety and efficacy prior to marketing is minimal. It does, however, state that supplement makers must not sell their goods by making health claims. This implies that supplement makers are not allowed to make claims about their product’s ability to cure, treat, prevent, or diagnose sickness.

If a supplement maker creates a product with a new ingredient, they must notify the FDA, who will only assess it for safety. The EPA is still refusing to authorize the supplement or test its efficacy.

How to Make a Decision

Some supplements may help a person by replenishing important vitamins and minerals in the body. However, before using lung supplements, a person should contact with a doctor, especially if they have a verified condition. This is due to the fact that some supplements may interfere with prescription drugs.

The FDA warns that just because a supplement producer claims to have used natural components does not mean the product is safe. As a result, speaking with a doctor about vitamins and supplements may enhance a person’s general health.

When to See a Doctor

If a person has any worries about their breathing or lung health, they should consult a doctor.

Symptoms of a lung condition, according to the American Lung Association, may include:

  • breathing difficulties
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing during exercise
  • a continuous cough
  • coughing up blood or mucus
  • chest pain or discomfort

Conclusion

Supplements that replace the body’s natural stores of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients may aid people with lung issues. Furthermore, they may provide brief relief from cold or flu symptoms.

However, before using supplements, a person should consult with a doctor, especially if they are also taking prescribed medications. Because of the risk of drug interactions, this is the case.

Sources:

  • https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/4/725/htm
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/how-lungs-work
  • https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/lung-disease
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/best-supplements-for-lungs
  • https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241507/
  • https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/warning-signs-of-lung-disease

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