Seeking a breath of fresh air
Sommers and Stathoplos
Dear Holistically Speaking,
Can you help our family out by giving us some suggestions to manage our child’s asthma?
Although our daughter has been experiencing mild symptoms for the past year, she was just diagnosed with asthma by her pediatrician. Any advice will be appreciated!
--Seeking a Breath of Fresh Air
Dear Breath of Fresh Air,
Good for you and your family to seek out information! Successful asthma control depends on your willingness to observe and manage your daughter’s experiences. You’ve definitely taken some important steps already - noticing that her symptoms require attention, and getting that health-related attention from her pediatrician.
There are 5 steps to effective asthma control:
• Recognize and identify ’triggers’ that affect her asthma symptoms.
• Anticipate and minimize asthma flare-ups
• Use medications as her pediatrician has prescribed them
• Continue working with her doctor to keep the asthma controlled
• Be open to learning more.
Environmental factors, such as cold weather or poor air quality can be major triggers for some people who live with asthma. These factors affect the lungs and can compromise your daughter’s breathing. Even exercise can play a role, so continue to work with your doctor to determine safe types and levels of exertion. Keeping a diary of weather conditions and your daughter’s activities may be helpful in identifying these types of triggers.
After you’ve recognized the types of factors that precede an attack of asthma, be aware of when they may happen again. Since none of us can control the weather (didn’t somebody else once say this?) you’ll want to be prepared to do closer monitoring when those weather conditions are happening. If you’re noticing that your daughter is wheezing or experiencing a cough, pay attention to these signals and contact her pediatrician. The Mayo Clinic has developed a useful guide to understand more about asthma in children and is available online: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/HQ00273
There are some acu-points that you can use with massage for her as well. Here’s a diagram of the pathway of energy associated with the lung. Massage these points, starting with the one at the top of the arm near each shoulder, can help to ease children’s breathing. You can safely massage these points after you’ve given your daughter a puff of her inhaler or other medicine that her pediatrician has advised you to use. Massage each arm only for about 5 to 10 minutes and notice if your daughter seems to respond and relax. It’s often just as important to keep your daughter calm and help her to relax; this will contribute to successfully resolving any wheezing or other symptoms.
--Path of Points on the Lung Channel
When you touch each point your daughter may feel some mild discomfort, or dull achiness. Sometimes people experience a tiny electrical zing down their fingers or up their arm. Encourage your daughter to breathe normally (and do that yourself, as well). The points to especially focus on during the massage are the ones at the top near the shoulder blade, the one at the elbow, and the one at the wrist. Depending on your daughter’s age, she may be able to learn to massage these points for herself.
The other area to massage is on the back. Between each shoulder blade and the spinal column there are points related to the lungs. If you focus your massage on the area just lateral to the spine and out to the inner border of each shoulder blade, this should feel very comfortable to your daughter, and help her get through any symptoms. Don’t wait until she’s having a wheezing episode; you can use these points preventively and to practice finding them. Use enough pressure that your daughter can feel the massage, but not so much that it’s uncomfortable for her.
Taking a comprehensive approach to managing your daughter’s asthma can be a positive and effective experience for contributing to her overall health. Let your pediatrician know that you want to be pro-active about her health and wellness. Your attitude can change the crisis of an asthma episode into an opportunity for improving her health.
Beth Sommers, L.Ac., MPH, Ph.D. is a national columnist for Acupuncture Today, and on the faculty of Boston University School of Public Health. Demie Stathoplos, MSW, MBA is the Executive Director at Pathways to Wellness, Inc., and former Executive Director of Health & Healing at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. Submit your questions on natural approaches and holistic living to firstname.lastname@example.org.