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The word asthma comes from the Greek word for "panting". It is a chronic inflammatory disease that is accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. The two main types of asthma are intrinsic asthma, which usually develops in conjunction with an infection or later in life or may follow the birth of a child or after change of life, and extrinsic asthma, which is caused by allergies.


During an asthma attack the mucous membranes swell and the bronchial tubes go into spasm, breathing is an effort, and the exhalation of air from the lungs becomes more and more difficult. For children this is a very frightening experience.


In some individuals foods may cause an adverse reaction that leads to asthma. Clinical studies have shown that egg, fish, shellfish and nuts (in particular peanuts) can cause the immediate onset of asthma.

Delayed onset of asthma may be caused by chocolate, wheat, citrus fruit and colourings, in particular tartrazine ( yellow dye food additive number 102).

Other foods such as those high in amine or salicylate could also be the cause of allergic symptoms such as asthma.

Unfortunately many individuals may suffer from multiple allergies and if this is the case then time will be needed to establish all allergy problems.

Asthma attacks may also be caused by small particles of feathers, pollen, dust, mould, animal dander, air pollution and fly sprays etc. These allergens can aggravate the bronchial tubes in sensitive children or adults, causing an asthma attack.

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid dairy products, as they increase the body's tendency to form mucus. Light exercise can help reduce asthma frequency in some individuals.

If you smoke, stop smoking - it causes the build-up of toxic material in the lungs.

Always wear protective masks when exposed to fumes or sources of industrial pollution.

Avoid any foods or dusts that are known to cause problems.

Important notes

Consult your healthcare professional or go to hospital:

  • If your asthma does not respond to your medication
  • If the attack is worsening even after using relieving medication