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Asthma Attacks — Breathing Exercises May Help Relieve Symptoms
An acute asthma attack can render a person incapable of normal functioning for a while. In many cases, bronchodilators work well to provide relief.
At the same time, there are claims that the severity and frequency of asthma attacks reduced drastically when patients started doing certain kinds of breathing exercises.
Are these claims really true?
Breathing exercises for asthma relief fall under what is called complementary and alternative medicine.
There are several types of breathing exercises available, including yoga, biofeedback training and more. Since many people apparently benefited from these exercises, they gained a certain amount of credibility.
However, asthma attacks are caused by inflamed muscles and lung tissues. Can breathing exercises help in such situations?
Sometime back, a publication called Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine carried a research report on this topic. According to that study, the answer is yes, breathing exercises can help to a certain extent.
They found that breathing exercises helped improve lung function and indirectly, the quality of life for asthma patients. The authors concluded that this form of complementary therapy warrants further study and that breath training can be a useful adjunct to normal medication.
According to the authors, of various types of breath training, pranayama appears to offer the most benefits. Pranayama is associated with yoga and in fact, many yoga postures incorporate breath control of one kind or another.
Several studies tracked adult asthma patients who were given pranayama training. A significant proportion of these adults showed improvements in asthma symptoms. However, their lung function did not appear to improve. Peak flow meters were used to measure lung function.
Other techniques like muscle relaxation and the Buteyko breathing technique also produced improvements in symptoms.
Some studies have found that muscle relaxation helps patients breathe more easily while reducing symptoms of asthma.
Researchers found that even six months after receiving relaxation training, the improvements in symptoms and breathing patterns were apparent.
A couple of other studies have shown that muscle relaxation training helped cut down on the need for bronchodilators. They also found that the patients showed improvement in their maximum inspiratory pressure, which is a key measure of lung function.
Statistics show that as many as one third of asthmatics have at least some degree of dysfunctional breathing. That is why biofeedback training, which promotes correct breathing, generates health benefits.
Such training may not help eliminate asthma attacks, but proper breathing does have a major impact on the patient’s experience of life and overall health.
The study concluded that regular medication and monitoring by a healthcare professional must always be a key part of asthma management. In other words, there is not enough evidence to suggest that alternative methods can be a complete substitute for traditional medication.
At the same time, there are indicators that complementary methods like breathing exercises can play a useful role. Utilizing these methods under competent medical supervision may help asthma patients see improvements in their condition.
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