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Asthma: the symptoms

A dictionary definition tells us that asthma, which comes from the Greek word for panting, is 'a paroxysmal dyspnoea (sharp air hunger) associated with spasm of the bronchial tubes or due to the swelling of their inner lining membranes.'

Even though Australians have the second highest rate of asthma in the world (New Zealand has the highest), the disease is anything but new. Two hundred years before Christ, the Greek physician Hippocrates described the symptoms of asthma thus:

The symptoms of its approach are heaviness of the chest - sluggishness to one's accustomed work and to every other exertion - difficulty in breathing...

Today, any asthmatic would have no trouble recognising this pattern.

The most basic symptoms, breathing difficulties and perhaps some wheezing with or without a cough, are all too familiar. Yet we must bear in mind that asthma is the result of a complex series of biochemical processes and responses in the whole body. For this reason asthma treatment must address the health of the body in general and the immune system in particular. That means looking at all factors that may pose an additional load on our already overworked defence and detoxification mechanisms.