ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

ASTHMA AND COPD - The Bitter Truth

Updated on April 19, 2013

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the bronchioles (small airways) that take air in and out of the lungs. If the bronchioles become inflamed a lot of mucous will be produced. It is characterised by a cough, breathlessness and wheezing.

Who is affected by it?

More children than adults are affected by asthma and some children do grow out of it. One in eight children has it and one in 12 adults has it in the UK.

What are the main symptoms?

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

What is an asthma attack like?

Sometimes an attack can be predicted. Some sufferers often report feeling light headed or dizzy, whilst others say they get a tickly cough or itching before the attack begins. Most asthma sufferers have ‘triggers’ such as pollen, dust, pet dander, emotion, certain chemicals, perfumes or smoke. Generally the attack will be more severe if there is more than one trigger. Attacks do not always occur immediately after a trigger

  • The air passages begin to swell
  • Breathing becomes difficult and noisy
  • Wheezing starts when breathing in and out but may only be audible on the out breath
  • The chest feels painful and tight
  • A feeling of overwhelming fatigue often occurs

Yoga | Source
Swimming | Source

Can attacks be prevented?

Swimming and yoga are excellent exercises for the management of asthma

Avoiding triggers can reduce the frequency of attacks

Ensure preventative medication is taken daily even if you are not having symptoms

Try to avoid exertion in cold temperatures

What are the facts?

The NHS spends approximately 1 billion pounds a year treating asthma

Over 6000 people in the UK visit A&E departments due to asthma

Around 3 people per day die of asthma in the UK

Some 5.4 million people in the UK are being treated for asthma

Up to 90% of asthma related deaths are preventable

A child in the UK is admitted to hospital with asthma every 17 minutes

Up to 1.1 million working days a year are lost due to breathing problems

Source: Asthma UK

Reliever | Source
Preventer | Source

What treatments are available?

Relievers – Normally blue: These are treatments taken to relax the muscles surrounding the bronchioles when symptoms are being suffered. Terbutaline and Salbutamol are commonly prescribed relievers.

Preventers – Normally red, orange or brown: These are given when one or more attacks are suffered each week. Commonly prescribed preventers are mometasone, beclometasone, fluticasone and budesonide.

What is the prognosis?

The lung function of asthma sufferers declines quicker than people who are asthma free.

Death is relatively rare from asthma and up to 90% of asthma deaths are preventable

Asthma is normally chronic although some sufferers can be free of symptoms for long periods

Some adults can become symptom free if their asthma is mild

Probiotic | Source
Acupuncture | Source

5 other possible remedies

  1. Probiotics contained in some yoghurt drinks are believed to prevent asthma and allergies
  2. Herbal Remedies such as Fish Oils, Flaxseed Oil, Bromelain, Magnesium and *Glycyrriza
  3. Acupuncture
  4. Breathing exercises
  5. Homeopathy

*Not to be used by people suffering from blood pressure


What is COPD?

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a term used collectively for various lung diseases. Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and Chronic Obstructive Airways disease are all included in the umbrella term. Sufferers from COPD have obstructed airways due to their narrowing

Who is affected by it?

Mainly smokers aged over 35 but people in that age group who are exposed to air pollution, dust and fumes can also be affected.. Genetic disorders like alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency account for about 1% of sufferers.

Tired all the Time
Tired all the Time | Source

What are the main symptoms?

  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness when moving about or exercising
  • Weight loss
  • Chest infections
  • Permanent phlegm producing cough
  • Tired all the time
  • Ankle Oedema

Spirometer | Source

How is it diagnosed?

  • Spirometer breathing tests
  • CT scan
  • Blood tests to rule out anaemia which can also cause breathlessness and check for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • X Rays to rule out the possibility of lung cancer
  • Peak flow meter to eliminate the possibility of asthma
  • Phlegm testing

What treatments are available?

Stopping smoking is first and foremost and if you don’t smoke avoid passive smoking

Medications can minimise exacerbations (flare ups). Medications used are bronchodilators, corticosteroids and expectorants. Methylxanthines are used for chronic cases.


What is the prognosis?

If the disease is diagnosed early and the sufferer stops smoking their lung function should not decline any faster than anyone else with a similar profile who does not smoke.

A too thin person with low BMI has a poorer prognosis than someone of normal weight and BMI

5 Herbal remedies believed to be beneficial to people with COPD

  1. Asian Ginseng
  2. Astragalus root
  3. Echinacea
  4. *Liquorice root
  5. Ginger

*Can affect blood pressure

Ginger Root
Ginger Root | Source
Quinine | Source
Bitter Gourd
Bitter Gourd | Source
Thai Kale
Thai Kale | Source


Recent studies at the University of Massachusetts Medical School show that taste receptors in the muscle of the airways, similar to the receptors in the taste buds, are stimulated by consuming something with an unpleasantly acrid taste. The bitter taste causes the muscle around the bronchioles to relax.

This helps asthma and COPD sufferers by widening the airways. Experiments with mice have shown that these effects are faster than those of reliever inhalers. They were given saccharine and quinine inhalants because of their bitter aftertaste.

In an asthma attack the bronchioles open and allow calcium to travel into the cells which then contract and cause the attack. In COPD the process happens for no apparent reason. The bitter substance appears to disable the calcium channel, allowing the airways to open and halting the attack.

Although this research is new, Bitter gourd root has been used for centuries for respiratory problems in Folk Medicine. Thai Kale becomes increasingly bitter as it matures and is also thought to be useful for COPD and asthma.

© Susan Bailey 2013 All Rights Reserved


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)