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Asthma Studies And Treatments In History

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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects the upper respiratory tract. This pathology has a long history of evolution, before it was categorically defined. According to Cannizzarro (2017), the first recorded case of respiratory distress was found in China in 2600 a. C. and, it was characterized by ‘noisy breathing’. At that time, the conditions that affected and produced the negative effects on breathing were unknown, but people who had respiratory problems were treated with natural plants. The plants were heated on stones and the fumes generated by the plants were inhaled by people with respiratory problems. These techniques helped improve their conditions, but there was no scientific evidence of how plants produced a positive effect on them.

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Then in ancient Egyptian times, Georg Ebers data was found containing more than 700 recipes written in hieroglyphics for breathing-related problems. The finding of this information based on natural remedies was very important for medical specialists to develop research on respiratory issues. One of the specialists who developed important research on respiratory distress was Hippocrates. Hippocrates was known as the grandfather of medicine and he was the first to use the term asthma as shortness of breath. This physician mainly focused on discovering the causes of asthma. After conducting several studies, Hippocrates realized that one of the causes was related to environmental factors. Moreover, after his observations and investigations, he classified asthma as a respiratory disease that developed most commonly among people who worked with metal, fishermen and tailors.

Time later, a Greek doctor Aretaeus of Cappadocia began to observe people who had asthma to discover the symptoms that caused this condition. After his observations and data collection, he wrote that shortness of breath, cough, tiredness, and heaviness in the chest were the most common symptoms of asthma. Aretaeus also showed that if the patient’s condition gets worse the symptoms would become more prominent and the cough would be more frequent. On other hand, some of the treatments recommended for asthma patients by this Greek doctor included drinking owl blood in the wine. In those times thanks to his research, Aretaeus was credited with the first accurate description of asthma.

Then in the middle ages, Europeans began using tobacco to treat asthma. In Central America, the Aztecs used a plant called ephedra, and in South America the Incas used the dried leaves of the cocaine plant. In other words, different civilizations began treating asthma with natural plants, without having a clear understanding of the effect that plants produced in the respiratory system.

Later, in the 40s and 50s, asthma studies and treatments were progressing thanks to medical advances. Some doctors discovered that asthma had a certain relationship with allergies and that these could be treated with the inhalation of anti-cholinergics. Then, in the 60s and 70s, the invention of peak flow meters was a technological leap that helped effective treatment. In the 1970s, extensive clinical research led to the use of inhaled corticosteroids for the effective administration of asthma.

10 October 2020

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