We live in a continent of asthmatics, The US National Library of Medicine estimated that out of every 12 adults and 11 children at least one is diagnosed with asthma. With this increasing number, the use of inhalers is really skyrocketing but the important question is these inhalers, are they really the most effective and safest way to treat asthma?
An average doctor will answer yes but a study carried out in the year 2011 showed that about 80 percent of children with moderate to severe asthma had corticosteroid inhalers prescribed for them and that percentage is likely to increase for adults.
As seen by the Doctors asthma inhalers is the first line of defense once the shortness of breath and wheezing signs set in, this implies that most people suffering from asthma attack have to rely on inhalers for asthma treatment.
I remember growing up as a child I have a friend who always have an inhaler on, in case he comes down with fits of coughing and wheezing. He has been taught to take a couple of pulls on it. Though his asthma was the mild one because it eventually left completely after changing his diets but he was always inhaling his puffer at least few times a day.
Although most people tend to think nothing of it, an increasing body of research shows that asthma inhalers can be grossly damaging to our health even when it is not used frequently.
Below are five reasons to stay away from inhalers and natural remedies to adopt instead.
1. Inhalers aren’t very effective
A study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which revealed that an increasing use of inhaler did not proffer any improvements in the symptoms of asthma. Part of the study shows that 254 children suffering from mild to moderate asthma were either administered inhaler on a low dose or an inhaler dose of four times the usual amount.
There was almost no difference in severe asthma aggravations between the two groups, which suggest that asthma inhaler is not as effective as you might think, especially when we are focusing on more extreme cases of asthma.
2. Inhalers can stunt growth in children
The same study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has also reported a shocking revelation; inhalers can lead to stunted growth in children. Over the period of 48 weeks, researchers have noted that increased usage of the inhaler can cause stunted linear growth by an average of 0.23 cm per year.
While that seems much, our children could be suffering from serious growth defects at the hands of inhalers, if the rate of growth suppression continued throughout their formative years.
Amazingly, this breakthrough is nothing new to scientists, with findings of over 18-years of study that budesonide inhaler use of 400 micrograms a day over six months resulted in a mean decrease in height of 0.23 cm… sound familiar?
I am really glad my friend stopped the use of inhaler when he did!!!
3. Inhalers lower bone density
Scientific studies have shown evidence that high-dosage or a long-term use of asthma inhaler can significantly reduce bone density, and also lead to diseases such as osteoporosis.
A published study in the Journal of Open Respiratory Research showed that people suffering from asthma who had been making use of an inhaler for a year or at higher doses for shorter periods had significantly reduced spine (vertebral) bone density than asthmatics who had never made use of inhalers.
Another independent study demonstrated similar results for the spine and a reduction in bone density at the top of the femur (thighbone).
4. Inhalers can give you thrush
The most common side effect of the inhaler is thrush otherwise known as oral candidiasis. A comparison was made in a study among asthmatics who used inhalers against asthmatics who do not use inhalers.
Healthy volunteers discovered that Candida species were significantly higher in those in the inhaler group. Oral candidiasis was found to be present in 10.7 percent of children using inhalers in another study.
Yeah, you heard that right, your inhaler could give you a yeast infection.
5. Inhalers can make your asthma worse
Additionally, apart from the aforementioned side effects from inhaler usage, over time inhalers can make your asthma worse!
A study reported that long-term use of inhalers resulted in more exacerbations (i.e. a significant decrease in baseline lung function and an upsurge in airway receptiveness to methacholine in asthmatic subjects). It was concluded that inhalers were injurious to the long-term control of asthma.
How to treat asthma without an inhaler
Fortunately, there are other ways to treat asthma without negatively impacting your health. The bulk of these methods involve developing a healthy immune system and relieving systemic inflammation in the body, both of which are huge contributors to asthma in the first place.
I think one of the most studied of all the natural remedies for asthma is the good old fish oil. It still remains the excellent choice for anyone that wants to treat the causes of asthma.
Fish oil is richly high in omega-3 fatty acids — compounds that have been shown over time to drastically reduce inflammation in the body. And because asthma is characterized by inflammation of the lung respiratory passages (bronchioles), less systemic inflammation is definitely a good thing.
Avoid inflammatory foods
Again, we find ourselves back on the doorstep of anti-inflammatory foods. However, this time, it is about running away from foods that can lead to inflammatory reactions and allergies.
Foods which contain gluten are a no-no, alongside food with hydrogenated fats and oils, and excessive sugar. All these compounds can significantly increase inflammation in the body, thereby increasing the chance of inflammatory episodes in the bronchioles.
Gluten is also a bit of a double (negative) whammy in that it can stimulate an autoimmune response in the body. This, in turn, can cause inflammation throughout and expand the risk of developing allergies linked to asthma.
You might have already heard about the wonders of magnesium as a mineral used for muscle relaxation. Well, this is same for the lungs. Sufficient magnesium in the diets helps in relaxing your lung respiratory passages, at the same time, reducing the frequency and harshness of asthma attacks.
But the problem is that most foods are deficient in magnesium, therefore it is worth it if you can get your hands on high-quality magnesium supplement especially the ones in their natural form to ensure that you are getting your daily dose.