Tackling Childhood Asthma -- Our 5-Pronged Approach



On my drive back home from work one day, I had a sense of trepidation. I just knew that my 1 year, 3-month-old daughter would be sick that evening. I had left her with her nanny a few hours earlier feeling happy and fine. But of late, she had been falling ill often. Nothing too serious or so it seemed. It always started with a mild cold and a little stuffiness, but in no time would she be cranky, start wheezing and suddenly get breathless. We would rush her to the paediatrician who would start her on an expectorant or the nebulizer. If I waited a little longer, then it would be a dose of antibiotics to tackle the bronchitis which would have begun its onset. Unfortunately, it became a recurrent problem over the next couple of months, and the paediatrician declared that she had asthma and recommended putting her on preventive and emergency steroid inhalers. When I panicked at the word “steroids”, the doctor was quick to pacify me saying that the new technology for administering steroids had changed from oral ingestion to inhalation-based ones. These were more effective since there was a direct transfer to the lungs with virtually no side-effects. We took a second opinion from one of the leading paediatricians of Pune and a third one from a Pulmonologist. They all said pretty much the same thing--that it might be only “childhood or paediatric asthma or baal damaa”. According to them, there was only a one-third probability of it continuing for a lifetime. It could disappear completely by the age of 8-10 years or it could go away then but return in adulthood. Since it is  a common phenomenon with almost 10-20% of all children suffering from it, there was no need for panicking.

We then sought guidance from doctors on do’s and don'ts for the treatment. Apart from the inhalers, what were the changes required in diet, lifestyle, home or even location? Could such changes help reduce the severity of the problem or the frequency of the attacks? The answers to all these questions drew a blank!

Somehow, it was still very difficult for me as a parent to accept this. To a layman like me, it almost seemed unbelievable that something considered as dreaded as asthma had become so prevalent. And even more unbelievable that medical science did not seem to have a solution or a cure for something which had become so ubiquitous, or that the existing cure had so many side effects.

Anyway, we started giving the treatment because when it comes to babies, no mum wants to take a chance. Inspired by the concepts of Integrative Medicine proposed by Dr Andrew Weill, who talked about the focus of medicine needing to be a holistic approach for the incumbent’s overall health rather than a single field of medicine, we embarked on an exploratory journey. We started, needless to mention, with the ubiquitous google searches, but progressed soon to more in-depth research, book references and speaking to alternative healing practitioners and doctors. 

What I am presenting below is no rocket science, no new discovery, nor any new theories. A lot of this came to us as knowledge, stories, practices and customs from people around me, health and wellness practitioners, books, blogs, websites, and last, but not the least, introspection and connecting the dots, especially on holistic healing. But more importantly, what is written here is the experiential learning of implementing different options and observing their impact on my daughter’s health in the immediate and longer term.

1- Mindfulness and observation: First and foremost, we just became more observant about what triggered off the conditions, like:

  1. Dust, dust-mites, mold, pollen, etc.
  2. Certain “wrong” foods--either because they were just incompatible with her or because of chemical additives which caused allergic reactions. 

To buttress our observations, we also subjected her to a blood-test based allergy test offered by a leading pathology laboratory at that time.

2 - Food and Home Remedies: We learnt what to avoid, what to augment and also what foods and spices to use as preventives or remedies. For that, we adopted the following measures:

  • Use of home remedies in line with the principles of Ayurveda (References given at the end of this blog) -- ‘Dadi maa ke nuskhe’ or Grandma’s remedies, Internet searches, tips given by family and friends.
  • Reconfiguring recipes of foods that she liked with beneficial ingredients.

  3 - Alternative Healing and Medicines: Under the guidance of highly recommended alternate healing doctors and experts, we explored: 



4 – Activities: We gradually increased the level of physical activity.


5 – Lifestyle: We examined every aspect that could have a small to large impact or act as a trigger, like: 

  • Eliminating thick drapes and rugs, which were traps of dust, dust-mites and mold
  • Increasing cleaning frequencies to prevent accumulation of any of the above
  • Listening to a lot of soothing music throughout the day
  • Indulging in relaxing activities
  • Hugs and kisses to ensure that any feeling of insecurity due to breathlessness was eliminated

 This experiential journey had phenomenal results. At one and a half years, an age when most toddlers run helter-skelter and a parent finds it tough to keep pace with their energy levels, Sanchita used to walk 10 steps and feel breathless, raise her arms and call out to one of us to pick her up. She used to take preventive inhalers twice a day and an SOS inhalation if required. At less than two and a half years of age, she was an active child, running, climbing hills and was off preventive inhalers.

We also made her see and understand the connection between foods, activities, behaviors and health. Not only did this lead to an increase in self-awareness in her but incorporating all these changes in our regular lifestyle had positive benefits on our health too! 


References - 


References of doctors consulted -

  • Ayurveda - Dr. Rakhi Pandita (trained at the Sri Sri Ayurveda Centre at Bangalore)
  • Homeopathy - Dr. Meenal Sohani (https://drmeenalsohani.com/)


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