As someone who developed exercise-induced bronchospasm (mild asthma) only after coming up to Cambridge in the late 1980s and having never suffered in childhood, I was rather disappointed to find myself on first one inhaler (a dilater) and then a second (preventer).
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.
Breathing exercises could be 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.
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 (a corticosteroid such as 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:
- Breathe through your nose when you can, but never tape up your mouth
- Take control of your breathing
- Try to avoid nervous or unnecessary coughing
- Look after yourself in general
- Most importantly, use your prescribed medication properly
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. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the Buteyko Method. This is based on a false premise about carbon dioxide levels in the blood being the problem. Don’t follow that route.