If you went to your doctor and asked him or her about asthma prevention, the advice you would likely get would be to “avoid triggers”. Indeed, this is good advice. People with asthma should try to keep their immediate environment as free as possible from the elements that typically trigger an asthma attack. However, asthma prevention has been shown to be enduring with the Buteyko Breathing Method.
There are many things that trigger asthma and they vary among individuals. A study published in the September, 2009, issue of the Annals of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology found a link between changes in the weather and asthma exacerbation in children. The lead author of the study, Nana A. Mireku MD, reported “a strong relationship between temperature and humidity fluctuations with pediatric asthma exacerbations, but not barometric pressure.” This finding is probably not news to those who suffer from asthma and know that when it gets hot and humid, or even suddenly dry and windy, their asthma takes a turn for the worse.
Asthma prevention strategies, like using hypoallergenic bed linens and removing carpets and drapes, are one thing, but how can we change the weather? We cannot, obviously, and by learning a better breathing pattern we probably do not need to.
The Buteyko Breathing Method has been studied in six clinical trials and has been shown to be an effective asthma prevention strategy. The Buteyko Method is based on the theory that chronic hyperventilation, or over-breathing, leads to asthma in those that are susceptible. People with asthma are known to hyperventilate, even when they are not having an acute episode, and hyperventilation leads to a reduction in blood and alveolar carbon dioxide. Low carbon dioxide (hypocapnia) is a known cause of bronchoconstriction (airway narrowing).
Along with bronchconstriction, asthmatics have inflamed airways, and the Buteyko theory provides that the inflammation and mucus formation typical of asthma is the body’s way of preventing further carbon dioxide loss. It is a protective mechanism to reverse or prevent further hyperventilation which has systemic consequences for the body.
The Buteyko Breathing method is all about learning how to breathe less and reverse chronic hyperventilation. It is not difficult to learn and the results in terms of enduring asthma prevention have been shown to be outstanding in the six trials that have taken place to date. The Mayo Clinic considers breathing exercises, like Buteyko, to be one of the most promising of the complementary therapies for asthma control. The Mayo Clinic website states that “Breathing exercises may improve your quality of life, help reduce asthma symptoms and reduce the amount of medication needed to control your asthma.”
There are certified Buteyko practitioners all over the world, as well as books and DVDs about the Method, and these can all be found on the Web.