Breathing technique could control asthma

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Two researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas have developed a program that teaches a breathing technique to help control asthma. The study has received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, and should be completed next year. The technique is designed to change the way a person breathes during an asthma attack.

The four week program seeks to help asthma sufferers reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks by teaching specific breathing techniques, and is designed by Thomas Ritz and Alicia Meuret, both in SMU's Psychology Department. The goals are to breathe more slowly, control stress, and prevent low levels of carbon dioxide that can lead to more difficulty breathing and increase the severity of future asthma attacks.

Teaching breathing techniques to control asthma also reduces irritation to the airways that can occur with hyperventilation. Faster breathing can harm individuals with asthma by restricting blood flow to the brain.

In 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classified asthma as an epidemic. The American Lung Association estimates the economic health burden of asthma at $19 billion annually. The research uses bio feedback to measure exhaled carbon dioxide, teaching asthma sufferers how to breathe more slowly.

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Teaching asthmatics to breathe more slowly is facilitated with the use of a hand held capnometer. The program is called Capnometry-Assisted Respiratory Training (CART).

Thomas Ritz hopes the end result will be improved quality of life, and fewer asthma attacks. "That means fewer doctor visits and less frequent use of rescue medications, with the associated savings of both time and money”.

Numerous studies show the importance of controlled breathing – something Yoga masters have known for centuries. Controlling the breath benefits both mind and body, and could provide significant benefits for managing asthma.

Breathing techniques to limit the frequency and severity of asthma attacks also provide a greater sense of control for patients. Alicia Meuret also suffers from asthma. Learning to breathe during an asthma attack could help 22 million Americans who currently suffer from the disease.

Source: SMU Research
Written by Kathleen Blanchard RN
Charlotte, NC
Exclusive to eMaxHealth

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