The Big Asthma Lie

Foods to help when you have Asthma

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Bronchodilators are drugs that open the airways in the respiratory tract. They are widely prescribed as pills and aerosol inhalers to patients with asthma to relieve the wheezing and difficulty in breathing characteristic of that disease. Most of these drugs work by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the muscular walls of the bronchial tubes. As a result, in addition to their desired effect, they commonly cause stimulation, anxiety, jittenness, and insomnia. Patients often dislike these side effects but have no alternatives to the drugs if they want to breathe.

Another problem with the stimulant bronchodilators is their strong tendency to cause dependence. When the effect of a dose wears off, bronchial constriction increases as a reaction to the drug, making further doses necessary. Asthmatics frequently m-

'See pages 131-36.

hide bronchodilators throughout the day, in addition to taking them regularly by mouth. This frequency of use increases risks of addiction and mood change.

One of the most widely prescribed of these drugs — theophylline — has recently come under close scrutiny as a possible cause of bizarre and violent behavior. Theophylline is the active principle of tea, a near relative of caffeine. For many years, most asthmatics have swallowed large daily doses of this stimulant, considered a safe and effective drug. Now, with increasing evidence that it can produce serious behavioral changes, its days of use as a medical treatment may be numbered.

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Dealing With Asthma Naturally

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