See also Asthma
Narrowing of the small airways in the lungs, causing child to wheeze, cough, choke, and fight to breathe; extremely distressing and occasionally fatal. Seldom occurs without some family history of Allergy or respiratory disease. Often associated with Eczema, Hay Fever and Allergic Rhinitis, and allergies to house dust, house dust mites, grass pollens, animals, cigarette smoke. Sometimes triggered off by Bronchitis or Bronchiolitis. Attacks can be brought on by exercise, emotion, rapid changes in the weather, some prescription drugs (beta blockers for heart disease, for example), and various allergens present in food and the environment.
Wheezy bronchitis during the first year of life (Colds that settle on the chest, causing thick phlegm and coughing), plus a family history of asthma or allergies, should alert you to the possibility that your child might develop asthma. Immediate constitutional treatment from an experienced homeopath could minimise that risk. Sixty per cent of those who wheeze with infection in the first year grow out of it. It is aggravated by smokers in the house.
In acute attacks, conventional treatment is Ventolin, given by inhaler or nebuliser. Ventolin opens the airways, allowing mucus to be expelled, and must be used in strict accordance with your medical doctor's directions. In severe acute attacks, aminophylline or steroids may be prescribed. In fact there is an increasing tendency to use steroids early in acute attacks. There is concern that chronic use of inhaled steroids may lead to slow growth. The significance of this has not yet been determined. Intal may be prescribed over a long period to desensitise membranes.
The homeopathic approach to chronic asthma is constitutional (both Ventolin and Intal are compatible with constitutional treatment). Remedies for acute attacks are listed below.
If neither conventional nor homeopathic remedies control an acute attack and the child's condition gets worse, or if there is any sign that the child's extremities are turning blue (cyanosis), or if the respiratory rate is beginning to climb above 50 or 60 breaths per minute if child is very young or above 40 breaths per minute if child is aged four or over, or if the ribs are being sucked inwards, or if the child becomes unusually drowsy or has difficulty speaking, consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours.
Specific remedies to be taken every 10 minutes for up to 10 doses
- Attack comes on suddenly, especially after shock or exposure to cold, dry wind Aconite 30c
- Attack comes on suddenly in middle of night, child unable to lie down, blue extremities Sambucus 30c and contact Emergency Medical Services
- Attack comes on between midnight and 2 am, child feels restless, chilly, wants sips of hot drinks Arsenicum 30c
- Coughing, gagging, fighting for air, made worse by talking or eating Carbo veg. 30c
- Lots of phlegm coughed up, child complains of great weight on chest and feeling sick all the time Ipecac. 30c
- Attack comes on during or after stomach upset, child very irritable Nux 30c
- Child coughing a lot, very thirsty, wants to be held and comforted Phosphorus 30c
- Attack comes on around 4 am, especially if child is worried or anxious about something Kali carb. 30c
- Attack comes on between 4 and 5 am, especially in damp weather, child clutches chest while coughing Natrum sulph. 30c
- Child irritable, finds fault with everything, wants to be picked up and carried Chamomilla 30c
- Greenish phlegm coughed up, child tearful Pulsatilla 30c
Self-help: Avoid feathers, animals, and dust around house and in child's room. Cover bedding with special barrier covers, wash blankets, pillows and duvet covers at more than 50 ºC monthly. Get a good vacuum cleaner: ask the National Asthma Campaign for details, decrease humidity; open windows; treat carpets and soft furnishings with anti-house-dust-mite spray. Put teddies and other soft toys in the freezer for a few hours once a month, which kills the mite. Child's room should also be as bare as possible with linoleum on the floor rather than carpet. An air ionizer may also be beneficial. Keep child out of rooms you are cleaning, and if you smoke, confine your smoking to a room the child rarely enters and use a proprietary cleaner to remove all traces of cigarette ash.
As for diet, avoid all food additives, cut right down on sugar and fat, and make sure child h as plenty of Vitamin B6 and B complex, Vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and Linseed oil. In an acute attack, sit the child up and give as much comfort and reassurance as you can. A humidifier will help the child to cough up phlegm. In especially difficult cases, a form of psychotherapy called family therapy may also be beneficial.