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Asthma : Causes
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

While the causes of asthma are not completely understood, some factors are strongly associated with its development. These are:

Genetics-a family history of asthma or allergy-based illness.
Atopy- a condition where the immune system reacts more sensitively to contact with allergens.
Wheezing when suffering from a viral infection: Infants and children who develop wheezing when infected with a cough or cold may go on to develop asthma that persists throughout childhood.
Occupational exposure to substances likely to cause allergic lung irritation such as wood dust, resins, metals, animal products or enzymes.
Intrinsic asthma is a condition seen most often in adults and its development is not related to allergies. The cause of this type of asthma is not really understood, but adults who have this type may have coexisting problems such as sinusitis, sensitivity to aspirin and/ or non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or nasal polyps.
Triggers of asthma include:
Exposure to allergens such as dust mites, mold, cockroaches, the dander (skin flakes) of cats and dogs, bird feathers and pollen.
Smoke (tobacco & wood)
Exposure to irritants such as laundry soap, strong smells, perfume, dust and pollution
Viral infections such as respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV), influenza viruses, and rhinoviruses
Certain Drugs such as: aspirin and NSAID's (i.e. ibuprofen)
Weather changes
Food additives
Environmental changes

Asthma presents as a wheezing and/or panting syndrome.

Wheezing syndromes are caused by:
1. Pernicious evils (environmental factors leading to illness). These include wind, summer heat, dampness, dryness, cold and fire.
2. Improper diet
3. Emotional disturbance
4. Stagnation of liver qi (When the liver is healthy, it maintains the smooth movement of qi though its flowing and spreading functions.)

These factors impair the organs, (lung, spleen and kidneys), responsible for fluid metabolism. As a result, an accumulation of unhealthy dampness in the body, known as "phlegm," occurs. Obstruction of the airways develops when phlegm rises with qi. Phlegm also hinders the movement of qi. When this happens, the lungs cannot descend and disseminate qi properly. As a result, the airway will narrow and phlegm and qi will fight each other, producing a wheezing or whistling sound in the throat.

Panting syndromes are mostly caused by lung and kidney disharmony.

Normally, the lungs descend and disseminate the different types of qi to the rest of the body. If lung disharmony is present, panting will occur. There are several reasons for this:
1. The attack of wind-heat or wind-cold (two types of pernicious evils) leads to a problem with regulating sweat. Normal sweat regulation is important for the healthy dissemination of lung qi.
2. Spleen disharmony causes problems with the body's digestive functions and results in an accumulation of dampness or "phlegm." When the phlegm is sent upwards to the lungs, it affects their normal descending properties.
3. Emotional disturbance
4. Emotional disorders lead to either stagnation of qi or liver disharmony. As the lungs rule qi, and the liver rules the flowing and spreading of qi, any stagnation will cause disharmony of lung function.
Kidney disharmony also plays a role in panting syndromes. The kidneys rule the grasping of qi (the regulation of healthy inhalation), and the lungs rule qi (regulation of breathing). A deficiency in either the lungs or kidneys can lead to a panting syndrome.