Yoga can help control asthma symptoms

A research study done under the guidance of Professor (Dr) Surya Kant, Head, Department of Respiratory Medicine, King George’s Medical University (KGMU), in collaboration with Lucknow University, found that 30 minutes of daily practice of yoga, along with standard medical treatment, improves the quality of life of asthma patients, by increasing their antioxidants’ levels, improving their lung functions, symptom scores and reducing the dose of inhaled medications.

1st of May is World Asthma Day. Asthma is a chronic disease of the bronchial tubes or airways of the lungs. Bronchial tubes carry air in and out of the lungs. In people with asthma, the walls of the airways become swollen (inflamed) and oversensitive.  This limits the flow of air into and out of the lungs, resulting in wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and troubled breathing. Asthmatic airways overreact to things like viruses, smoke, dust, mold, animal hair, cockroaches, and pollen dust.

Prof Surya Kant is the President of National College of Chest Physicians (NCCP) India; past President of Indian Chest Society; as well as heads the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Lucknow.

Prof (Dr) Surya Kant
The global burden of asthma is approximately 300 million cases, with India alone carrying 10% of this burden (30 million or 300 lakh cases). The state of Uttar Pradesh alone has 50 lakh patients of asthma. The human and economic burden associated with this condition is severe. Although not fatal in most cases, asthma does affect the quality of day to day life.

According to Global Initiative of Asthma (GINA), asthma is uncontrolled in 40% of the patients and partially controlled in 60% patients, which means that it is rarely well controlled.  The main reason for this is that patients do not take the inhaler medication properly. It is advisable to take inhaled medication regularly, but unfortunately only 30% patients take inhaled medication, while the rest 70% take oral medication, which is not as effective.

Factors that precipitate an asthma attack are called triggers. They cause the air passage to get clogged and constricted, making it difficult for the patient to breath. The inflamed bronchioles generate more mucous and also cause the muscles around them to tighten and get irritated, constricting the airways. This is called a bronchospasm. Allergens, heredity, abnormal body chemistry, psychological factors, air pollution, icy drinks, certain chemicals and stress are the main factors responsible for triggering asthma.

Although asthma is a chronic disease that cannot be cured, but medicines and life style changes can help control its symptoms. Quick relief medicines are used when needed and can relieve symptoms in just a few minutes. They are short acting inhaled bronchodilators. Long-term control medicines or controller medicines have to be taken every day, usually over a long period of time. Over time, these medicines relieve symptoms and prevent asthma attacks in those with mild to moderate persistent asthma.

According to Dr Surya Kant, “Yoga is a simple and cost effective method, which can be used as an adjuvant therapy, along with medical treatment. Practicing  regular pranayama opens the one- third of the closed alveoli, increases the stamina of the lungs and releases the impure air. Yoga enhances the immune system of the human body and revives its natural healing systems. It is not possible to cure asthma with yoga therapy but it can surely control asthma if used as an adjuvant treatment with standard medical treatment”. He informed that every Tuesday and Friday morning patients are being trained in yoga by a yoga specialist in the out patients’ department (OPD) of the Department of Respiratory Medicine, KGMU, Lucknow

Citizen News Service - CNS
May 1, 2018