Asthma Sufferers, Hold Your Breath

Buteyko method

As someone who developed exercise-induced bronchospasm (mild asthma) only after coming up to Cambridge, having never suffered in childhood, I was rather disappointed to find myself on first one inhaler then a second. The discovery of breathing techniques that helped me control my reliance on bronchodilators, such as Salbutamol, has come as something of a breath of fresh air. Although saying that cold, fresh air is one of the triggers for an asthma episode as fellow sufferers will know.

Anyway, asthma sufferers everywhere could benefit from breathing exercises that allow them to regain control of their breath, reduce wheezing and breathlessness, and in time cut down on their reliance on inhaled medication. When I mentioned these techniques to my GP during a general checkup, he confessed that before inhalers were available, breathing exercises were all that he and his fellow practitioners could prescribe for mild attacks. What goes around, comes around it seems.

Across the UK more than 5 million people suffer the potentially debilitating effects of asthma, and many millions more around the world. Diagnosis is usually straightforward and most sufferers are prescribed one or both of two kinds of inhaler – an inhaler to reduce symptoms (Salbutamol, for instance) and another to reduce the underlying inflammation in the lungs (something like beclomethasone).

Learning to control one’s breath and to breathe through the nose is important for asthma sufferers and something many fail to do, especially when asleep.

Five golden rules for reducing your asthma symptoms:

  1. Breathe through your nose
  2. Take control of your breathing
  3. Control your symptoms
  4. Look after yourself
  5. Use your medication effectively

    You are best advised to talk to your GP about the potential of breathing techniques for you and at the very least to adhere strictly to Rule 5. Whatever you do, do not abandon your medication.