Asthma is one of the most chronic lung conditions, affecting millions¹ of people. Although there is no cure, this condition is highly treatable. Most treatment plans for asthma are highly effective and could ensure you manage the condition well.
One of the most effective approaches in the management of asthma is avoiding your triggers. However, triggers differ from person to person and can include environmental toxins, allergies, or various forms of physical exertion.
In addition to asthma medications that can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications, you can also use various beverages to help manage your condition. This stems from research suggesting that proper hydration may be beneficial to managing your condition. Moreover, the nutrients from some of these beverages may also be beneficial. Below are some of the most common ones.
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Fresh orange juice may be a great source of vitamins C and E. There are potential respiratory benefits of citrus and orange juice due to the compounds found in them, including flavonoids such as naringenin and hesperidin. These flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties that can have a beneficial effect² on asthmatic individuals.
Various studies³ report that these compounds may help decrease the prevalence of exercise-induced asthma attacks. Vitamin C has also been found⁴ to allow a reduction in the corticosteroid dose required to maintain asthma control in adults.
Furthermore, research⁵ shows that a low level of vitamin D may be a risk factor for asthma attacks and that vitamin D supplementation can reduce the attacks and their severity. It is, therefore, safe to suggest you increase your intake of 100% fortified orange juice for that extra vitamin D.
Tea has always been a part of various treatment options. There have been several studies reporting the beneficial effects of certain types of teas in managing asthma attacks.
Let's go through some of these teas.
Adding ginger to your tea may help relax your airways and relieve other asthma symptoms, which may reduce wheezing and difficulties in breathing. Recent research⁶ shows that ginger tea may also relieve chest tightness.
A certain component of ginger (gingerol) was found⁷ to reduce hyperresponsiveness in the airways and allow the respiratory smooth muscles to relax.
Most people like ginger tea because it's easy to make. All you need to do is peel a knob of ginger and then steep it in at least one glass of boiling water for 20 minutes. You then strain out the ginger. You can add other ingredients to the drink, including honey, cinnamon, or whatever else you like.
Mullein tea may sound familiar to you as a treatment remedy. It's been used for years to help treat respiratory conditions such as mucus buildup, bronchitis, and asthma. This tea helps treat coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and inflammation. According to various studies,⁸ it can also significantly help relax your respiratory tract.
You can use dry mullein leaves to make the tea by steeping them in a kettle of water or use tea bag packages from your local grocery store or online. Some people add honey to sweeten it or even mix flavors to their liking.
Licorice tea is often used alongside other treatment options to ensure effectiveness. The licorice root contains a compound known as glycyrrhizin which may help relieve many asthma symptoms. Moreover, when combined with asthma treatments such as albuterol, this compound has proven effective in both animal and human studies.⁹
However, as with most things, you may experience the side effects of using licorice tea in large quantities and long-term use. Some side effects of the tea could be dangerous — it may impact potassium levels or cause high blood pressure, kidney failure, or an irregular heart rate. It's best to talk to your doctor before using this tea as a treatment.
There are so many other types of herbal teas you could try, including black tea, eucalyptus tea, and green tea. All these teas may help your breathing, reduce inflammation, boost the general immune system, and relax your muscles. You could also try a specifically created mixture of herbal teas designed to improve your breathing and respiratory functions.
One good example is Breathe Easy tea, which contains both eastern and western herbs. It includes fennel fruit, ginger, Bi Yan Pian, licorice root, peppermint, and eucalyptus, among other ingredients. But as always, consult with your physician before using any herbal mixtures or drinks, particularly if you have any other health conditions or are taking any medications.
There's plenty of research¹⁰ backing caffeine in alleviating asthma symptoms. Caffeine, found in drinks like black and green tea or coffee, may improve lung function and help dilate your airways. Coffee has compounds like methylxanthines and caffeine that studies show could reduce the risk of recurring symptoms.
However, you're advised to still take it easy on your caffeine consumption.
Yes, most definitely. But as mentioned earlier, triggers are different for everyone. You should also note that some of these beverages are linked with the risk of developing asthma. These include:
As usual, sugar is associated with most lifestyle diseases, including obesity. As such, consuming lots of sugary beverages during childhood or adulthood may increase weight, which can certainly make your asthma worse. Additionally, studies¹¹ have also found that sweetened drinks, particularly sodas, can significantly increase the risk of asthma in both children and adults.
Studies also reported a higher risk in children of women with high consumption of sweetened beverages during pregnancy. Perhaps it is time to cut down on soda and other sweetened drinks.
Alcohol is one of those drinks that leave you dehydrated. Dehydration may make your asthma symptoms worse and, as such, increase the chances of experiencing attacks.
Additionally, studies¹² have found that drinking alcohol can be highly triggering asthma attacks in many individuals — this is due to the histamine and sulfite content found in many alcoholic drinks, particularly beer and wine. Not everyone will react the same to alcohol, but many people may have a sensitivity to sulfites which causes allergic reactions.
Staying hydrated is the key to a healthier life. You may just decide to drink the recommended amount of water daily or look for beverages that will provide you with nutrients that could ease your symptoms. Your efforts can ensure your asthma symptoms are manageable.
However, it is still wise to stay cautious and let your doctor know which drinks you want to include in your treatment regime. You should also ensure you always consume any of these drinks moderately to avoid any adverse effects from overconsumption of certain nutrients.
Asthma facts and figures | Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Flavonoids and asthma (2013)
Caffeine for asthma (2010)