ASTHMA: Advice Based on Personal Experience [Archives:1998/26/Health]

June 29 1998

Yusuf Abdul Hamid,
I’m asthmatic like thousands of other people in Yemen. Asthmatics are sensitive to certain types of foods, dust mites, contact with certain types of animals, wet paints, weeds and grass and cold winds, etc. In short, asthma is an allergy which can develop through contact with any substance which can excite it.
I’m 68 years old. I got asthma at the age of 38 (1967). I have had desperate times, and I’ve been admitted to hospital gasping for breath several times. I was told that asthma is incurable.
However, I believe that asthma is reversible. I’ve had a number of asthma free periods for years at a time, and I attribute that to correct diet and correct living. We asthmatics must try hard to keep our asthma under control by following simple preventive measures as follows:
1) We should not smoke, and we should stay out of smoke filled rooms. Some people may feel that cigarette smoking can steady the nerves. No, smoking is poisonous. It depresses the nervous system, raises blood pressure and weakens the heart.
2) We should not go to bed on a full stomach, as it causes the acid in the stomach to back up to the esophagus, and may cause an asthma attack. I have had several such attacks.
3) We should stay indoors when it is cold outside. The sudden blast of cold could trigger off an asthma. I have had a few such attacks while in Sana’a and made the mistake of moving out at night without adequate clothing.
4) Remaining in a warm dry climate is quite peaceful for an asthmatic. We should live in such a climate.
5) We should stay away from foods that may cause asthma. Mainly milk, eggs, nuts, etc. We should keep an eye on the types of food that triggers off an asthma attack. Beware, sometimes even smells that we are sensitive to can bring on an attack.
6) Table salt is not good for asthmatics. Take very little of it, or better still, avoid it.
7) We should avoid food additives which can increase our asthma. These are mainly spices, pickles and vinegar etc. Don’t allow anybody to sprinkle them onto your food. Leave out anything that causes belching and asthma. I know it seems difficult to follow this advice. But we should all try.
8) Digestive troubles, colds and constipation in particular can lead to bronchial asthma. We should avoid any food that irritates our stomach.
9) Over-eating and over-drinking may also cause asthma. An overloaded stomach has initiated my attack several times.
10) White sugar is not good for asthmatics. It contains many calories, and it produces catarrh and acidity leading to asthma. Thus, we should avoid sugar as much as possible, I certainly avoid it! I consume a lot of dates, raisins and fruits, etc., which contain natural sugar.
11) We should avoid dust especially when we have the slightest perception of an attack. We may say it is difficult to avoid dirt and dust in our dirty and dusty cities. But it’s avoidance is in our own interest.
12) We can do all forms of exercise which have beneficial effects on our body in general. But don’t over do it please!
13) If your chest seems tight at night take your dose of medicine before going to bed in order to avoid an attack in the early hours of the morning.
14) We should find out our own pattern and early signs of asthma, and act right away by taking the appropriate medicine in order to ward off an attack. The earlier we act, the easier it gets to control the asthma.
30 years of asthma has taught me how to fight it and live with it.
If we consume fresh air and enough sunlight and adhere to the correct diet and eat everything in moderation, we can reverse our asthma troubles. If we have no attacks we can do away with drugs. I’m sure that by correct eating and correct living, asthma is reversible.
In concluding, let me warn asthmatics that if they cannot control their problem they should seek professional advice immediately. Please don’t try to ride out any serious attacks when they are already there. Seek medical attention at once. I wish you all courage, vigor and high spirits.