Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause a cough, wheezing, and breathlessness. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person although it can be controlled well in most people most of the time. Even so, asthma attacks hospitalise someone every seven minutes.
What is Asthma
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. These are the small tubes, called bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma, the bronchi will be inflamed and more sensitive than normal.
When you come into contact with something that irritates your lungs, known as a trigger, your airways become narrow, the muscles around them tighten and there is an increase in the production of sticky mucus (phlegm). This leads to symptoms including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing and coughing
- A tight chest
Many thousands of asthmatics have experienced remarkable improvement in their condition by using the Buteyko breathing technique. This has allowed them to reduce their dependency on medication and enjoy a quality of life they previously thought impossible.
Asthmatics typically breathe through the mouth. They also tend to breathe more heavily and have a higher respiratory rate than non-asthmatics. Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is not merely a waste gas. Although you breathe to get rid of excess CO2, it’s very important that your breathing volume is normal, in order to maintain a certain amount of CO2 in your lungs.
Dealing with Asthma Attacks
The first feeling of an asthma attack is unsettling and can result in a short period of rapid breathing. By controlling this initial over-breathing phase, asthmatics can prevent a vicious circle of over-breathing from developing and spiraling into an asthma attack.
Another factor from an asthmatic point of view is dehydration of the inner walls of the airways. It’s a combination of these factors that cause the airways to constrict. Heavy breathing is causing the loss of carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide also helps to relax smooth muscles surrounding your blood vessels. So, it’s not just the airways which constrict when you’re breathing too much, but it’s also the blood vessels.”
Many asthmatics have problems sleeping at night and by using the Buteyko Method night-time symptoms can improve too.