Asthma Doesn't Have to Kill
© Ronald J. Parise 2005

I was a severe asthmatic but am now cured -- the asthma is not just under control, but cured! No more inhalers, allergy shots or emergency trips to the hospital. No more avoiding cats, grass clippings, pollen, dust mites or mold spores. Cured! Recent reports concerning the increase of asthma in school-age children is alarming. But the disturbing part is that this increase can easily be reversed.

Reading these reports rekindled the onetime feelings of fear and angst brought about by the many asthma attacks I once endured. Indeed, I became extremely uncomfortable at the thought of another desperate trip to a doctor or hospital for medication.

Try to imagine the panic one would experience while drowning, yet with asthma there is no water; or the sensation of an 800-pound gorilla sitting on your chest and you're starving for air! Only other asthmatics can know and understand what these children must go through: deliriously trying to get air into their lungs, enduring a feeling that they will suffocate, pass out or die from a lack of oxygen. Thankfully, these frantic episodes of gasping for air are now only bad memories for me.

As a teen, I tried to pretend I didn't need medication or an inhaler, so I would throw them away after I had an attack, knowing I could go back to the hospital to get a new one when necessary. Eventually I didn't throw them away. By my early thirties I finally accepted the fact that if I really wanted to live, I had to always have the medication available to stave off an attack.

So for the next several years I had to depend on the inhalers whenever I found myself frantically sucking for air - a well-known feeling to asthmatics. How was I fortunate enough to overcome this childhood illness when so many must still suffer? Luck.

Originally I was trying to battle an ailment totally unrelated to my asthma. I thought I might have hypoglycemia, so I cut out all refined (and artificial) sugars, including alcohol, tea, coffee, fruit drinks, etc., consuming only milk and lots of water for a six-month period. This occurred during the spring and summer months, typically when I would have had the most difficulty breathing, but this time with zero asthma attacks or allergy problems!

After the six-month hiatus I resumed my normal diet, but the asthma did not return. I incorrectly assumed it was a lack of sugar that allowed my immune system to build up against the allergens, until I found a book written by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., titled ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus. In his book, Dr. "Batman" explains his theories of dehydration and its deleterious effects on the body, and lays out a simple ten glasses of water per day regimen (with sea salt in the diet) to treat asthma and many other ailments. I had increased my daily water intake significantly, and out of habit continued to drink more water after I went off the sugar-free diet, unwittingly curing my asthma along the way.

Researchers and doctors attribute the asthma increase to pollution and other man-made allergens added to our environment. Yet isn't it common knowledge that there has been a significant increase in children's consumption of soda and fruit drinks over the years, supplanting the drinking of plain old water? And caffeine, a main ingredient in most sodas, is a diuretic, exacerbating the problem. Dr. Batman explains how the body needs water, NOT just liquids of any type, especially ones laced with a diuretic like caffeine. Therefore the increased consumption of soda has caused a decreased consumption of water, resulting in the slow dehydration of American children with the telltale asthma that has flourished. Indeed, when I have an occasional cup of tea that may have caffeine in it, I do not include the water in the tea as part of my daily count of liquid intake. And I DO include an extra glass of water to supplant any effects of the diuretic caffeine.

Sports-induced asthma afflicts many children. Profuse sweating accompanies vigorous exercise. Is the asthma attack a result of the normal dehydration of the body caused by exercise? The high incidence of asthma attacks while exercising certainly points in that direction. Parents should throw away the sport drinks (many of which have caffeine) and rely only on water supplemented with fresh fruit during competition.

Obviously a double-blind study must be done to prove the efficacy of the ten glass protocol for the medical profession to follow suit. The problem is, who will fund the project? A bottled water distribution program may not sound sexy enough for the American Lung Association. But for gosh sakes, don't get rid of your medications until you see and feel the effects of your own water program. I had to be weaned from my inhaler.

If parents are serious about the battle with asthma, get rid of the soft drinks and fruit drinks. What do you have to lose for your own three- or six-month test? It's cheaper than buying soft drinks - ­and isn't the life of your child worth the hassle you will surely get for stopping the sweet drinks?


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