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Asthma Symptoms and TCM Treatment

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Asthma Symptoms and TCM Treatment

In the Chinese language, the word asthma is expressed by two hieroglyphs. The first one, pronounced "Xiao", means howling or wheezing, and the second one, pronounced "chuan", means panting, gasping or dyspnea. During an attack of the asthma disease wheezing is always accompanied by panting, whereas panting does not necessarily carry with it wheezing. There are two classes of the asthma symptoms. One is the deficiency class, and the other is the excess class. Symptoms of the excess class fall into two asthma types: the "cold" type and the "hot" type. A patient who shows symptoms of the "cold" asthma type expectorates watery, colorless sputum which is frothy in appearance, feels oppressed in the chest and has difficulty in breathing. He does not generally feel thirsty, and is fond of hot drinks.

The patient"s tongue coating is white and slippery. His pulses are shallow and are packed too close. He may feel very cold or have a fever. A patient of the "hot" asthma type has phlegm which is thick and sticky, and he expectorates it with difficulty. He is florid, often feels thirsty and is very fond of drinking water. His tongue is red; the tongue coating yellow and greasy. His pulses skip in number, and he may run a fever at the same time. The symptoms of deficiency are mostly due to deficiency in vitality of the lungs or the kidneys. In the case of pulmonary deficiency the patient"s breathing is lacking in amount of air; his speech is uttered in a low voice; his cough is weak in sound; and the coughing up and ejection of sputum is made with great effort. In addition, coughing and expectoration is often induced by a change in weather or caused by some special smell. In the case of renal deficiency, air, which is essential to life, cannot be inhaled with power; breathing is in short spurts; and panting is ready to break out at any time.

In treating a patient who is under a raging attack of the asthma disease, the general practice is to dispel first of all the unhealthy environmental influence in accordance with the principle of traditional Chinese medicine that in an emergency what is on the surface should be tackled prior to what is at the root. For symptoms of the "cold" asthma  type, warming up the person and giving vent to contents of the lung should be the first priority; for symptoms of the "hot" asthma type, the fever should be reduced and the lungs be cleansed, with the aid of medicines for reducing phlegm, stopping coughing and quenching panting.

When a person has been ill for a long time and is deficient in vitality, the doctor should take into consideration both what is on the surface and what is at the root of the asthma. When the asthma  is quiescent, the doctor should foster or build up resistance to the disease, and cultivate and develop the basis of health. He may resort to such means as supplementing energy, invigorating the spleen, and reinforcing the renal organ.

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