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New Cure for Asthma?

Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 04:09 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When I was young, our family doctor prescribed a horrible-tasting medicine called theophylline that helped somewhat during an acute asthma attack. Even so, my mother and I had to make several trips to the emergency room when the symptoms got really bad.

I learned to live with asthma, but it was always worse when I got sick with an upper respiratory infection (a common cold) or if I began exerting myself.

As I grew older, there were better therapies in the form of inhalers. In my teens and early 20s, I used them to control my symptoms fairly well.

Then, shortly after I finished medical school, my asthma symptoms faded. Though they would inevitably resurface if I became ill, my daily struggle seemed to be over.

Why did my asthma symptoms diminish? I chalked my improvement up to a better diet.

I found out that I was sensitive to dairy. A simple blood test for casein immunoglobulin G (IgG) showed that my body was producing large amounts of antibodies for the cow’s milk protein casein. In other words, every time I ingested food with cow’s milk in it, I was stimulating an inflammatory response in the form if those antibodies.

I eliminated dairy from my diet, and within a few weeks my asthma symptoms had markedly improved. In fact, I was able to stop taking asthma medications after just six weeks of avoiding dairy.

For the next 20 years, my asthma symptoms remained greatly improved. I was bothered only when I got sick with an upper respiratory infection.

During those episodes, I had to use asthma medication, but I was able to stop once the infection resolved.

Then out of the blue, about a year ago, I caught a cold and all of my daily asthma symptoms came roaring back. But this time, they didn’t go away when the infection was over.

I was wheezing every day and having trouble exercising. I’ve been playing tennis for more than 40 years. But during that asthma outbreak, I had difficulty breathing during matches.
I was also having to wake up at night to puff a rescue inhaler.

I asked a pulmonary doctor about it. “Asthma is a funny illness,” he said. “It can be triggered by minor events and take on a life of its own.”

The doctor had no explanation why my symptoms got worse. He said “it just happens.”

He prescribed two inhalers for me. When I asked him how long I should take them, he replied, “You may need them for the rest of your life.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with that prognosis.

I was now puffing two inhalers — one of them a steroid — and getting minimal results. They only relieved the asthma for a short period of time, then I would have to use them again.

I was puzzled. I was eating a very clean diet — no dairy and almost no refined foods or sugar. I was in good shape, exercising daily and feeling good.

Then, after a minor cold, all my asthma symptoms returned with a vengeance. I racked my brain trying to figure out what happened.

One day a patient came into my office; she had suffered with severe asthma symptoms for a number of years. Mary, who was 60, asked me if I had read “A Cure for Asthma?” by David Hahn, M.D. I had not.

She explained the author’s hypothesis that asthma, in the vast majority of cases, is caused by a chronic, underlying infection. And that treating the infection would often cure the asthma.

I always like it when patients bring me articles and books to read. I look at everything they give me.

Sometimes, I don’t read all the way through, but I always take a look. Sometimes, I learn things I didn’t know, and it changes my practice.

I read Dr. Hahn’s entire book — and I learned a lot

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When I was young, our family doctor prescribed a horrible-tasting medicine called theophylline that helped somewhat during an acute asthma attack.
asthma, David Hahn, casein, infection
Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 04:09 PM
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