Asthma FAQs

What are the typical symptoms if you have mild untreated asthma? 

The following are the typical symptoms of mild and untreated asthma:

  • Frequent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing - a slight whistling-like sound made while breathing
  • Mucus build-up in the throat
  • Tightening of the chest 

You may or may not experience all the symptoms listed above. The number of symptoms and their occurrence varies from person to person.

Do natural remedies and treatments work for asthma?

Unfortunately, natural remedies and treatments cannot cure asthma. However, some remedies can help ease the symptoms of asthma. 

Breathing techniques

Asthma narrows the airways in your lungs which causes breathlessness. Several techniques2  can improve the quality of your breathing and help ease the difficulty in breathing.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Unlike normal breathing, where you breathe from the upper chest, this technique involves breathing from the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle situated below your lungs. By breathing in this way, you straighten out your diaphragm and slow your breathing rate, which eventually decreases the body’s oxygen needs.

Diaphragmatic breathing is easy to practice. Sit up straight on a chair and place one hand flat on the upper chest and the other hand on your stomach. Breathe slowly through your nose and you will notice that the hand on the stomach moves. In diaphragmatic breathing, the hand on the stomach should remain still.

For a relaxed breathing experience, you can also lie on your back with your knees straight and place a pillow under the knees. Keep practising until you can breathe without moving the hand on your chest.

Pursed Lip Breathing

This breathing technique is similar to diaphragmatic breathing. You need to first breathe in slowly through your nose while your mouth remains closed. Purse your lips as you do when you are about to whistle. Breathe out through your pursed lips to a count of five.

Buteyko Technique

This technique is quite different from the others and is easy to practice. Try breathing quietly and rapidly with your nose. This exhales more air from your chest than the air you inspire/breathe in. This breathing method can be effective to avoid breathlessness.

Yoga and Meditation

Stress is one of the most common triggers of asthma. Yoga and meditation are effective activities that can calm down your mind 2 and relieve stress. 

The breathing patterns in yoga and meditation can improve and ease breathing 2 which, as mentioned above, helps with breathlessness and other symptoms.


Drinking caffeinated drinks cannot treat asthma. However, research suggests that caffeine is a bronchodilator and can help open blocked and/or narrowed airways. So, drinking tea and coffee may help if you want to reduce your breathlessness.

Does passive smoking affect asthma in children?

Passive smoking can be harmful to asthmatic children and adults. Tobacco smoke is a common asthmatic trigger as it irritates the airways. 

Tobacco is not the only irritant in cigarette smoke. Second-hand smoke contains about 7,000 chemicals, out of which 100 are toxic. An asthmatic patient can be allergic to any one or more of the harmful irritants in cigarette smoke. For children, it is necessary to stay away from smoking areas.

Beyond medication, what can help with asthma? 

For people with asthma, it is necessary to take prescribed medications such as inhalers. Though there is no cure for asthma, and medications can only relieve the symptoms, adopting a healthy lifestyle can help with asthma.

  • Exercising regularly can ensure you stay fit. Simple cardio exercises for the lungs can ease the symptoms in the long run. However, too much exercise can flare up the symptoms causing breathlessness, wheezing, and chest tightening. Moderation is important!
  • The worst thing you can do as an asthmatic patient is to smoke. If you have a habit of smoking, it is crucial to get rid of it.
  • Breathing techniques, as discussed earlier, can help you ease the symptoms, so practice them as much as you can.
  • Eating a well-balanced and clean diet goes a long way. The less processed foods you eat, the less inflammation and asthmatic triggers you are likely to get.
  • Get a yearly flu vaccination to minimise your risks of developing flu which can worsen your symptoms.
  • Stress triggers asthma, so do as much as possible to avoid it. Approaching a positive mindset to the daily struggles of life can help you manage and minimise stress.

No, asthma does not develop into diseases, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) or emphysema. Mild or acute asthma may develop into chronic asthma if left untreated but doesn’t progress towards another disease.

However, a person may have either emphysema or COPD along with asthma. Emphysema and COPD are mainly caused by smoking and other disorders that weaken the lungs as you age. On the other hand, asthma is related to allergies and usually develops in childhood.

Will pregnancy make your asthma symptoms worse?

Generally, pregnancy cannot worsen your asthma. If you have mild or acute asthma, it will not affect your pregnancy. You need to take care of managing your asthmatic symptoms during pregnancy. If asthma gets better, the improvement is gradual as the pregnancy continues.

However, some people may find their asthma worsening as they may not be able to take strong medications because of their pregnancy. 

Those who are pregnant should consult their doctor and discuss their asthmatic condition in detail. 


  1. Chu, P., 2020. The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. European Journal of Cardiology, 23(3), pp. 291-307.
  2. Thomas, M., 2014. Breathing exercises for ASTHMA. European Research Journal, pp. 312-322.

Sheza Asim

Masters in Microbiology - University of Karachi, Pakistan
Sheza is a young microbiologist with a masters and has environmental microbiology, clinical virology, and epidemiology as areas of interests.
As a microbiologist in Pakistan, she has worked in tuberculosis diagnostic unit in Dow University of Health Sciences and in food and marine research centre in Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Reserach. After moving to the UK, she is keen to explore more career options including writing for health and life sciences.

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