Asthma management is primarily done with the use of anti-inflammatories and inhalers, both emergency ones and for prolonged use.
However, complementary treatment methodologies do have their place in the successful long term management of the condition.
Some may consider it to be unorthodox. But research has proven that some of them, especially breathing techniques that help to counter the triggers that aggravate asthma are very effective when used appropriately.
Today we take a look at the top three breathing techniques that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of asthma. When practiced regularly, these can also be used in helping preventing attacks and controlling an attack when it occurs.
Please remember though that regular use of asthma medication or an emergency plan, is still a prerequisite and this should never be construed as an alternative for it. In due time, you might be able to stop using medication completely. But always consult a doctor before you make any modifications to your existing medication plan.
Yoga, has for thousands of years emphasized on breathing techniques for helping strengthen the lung muscles and the diaphragm, thereby helping asthmatics in gaining better control over their breath rhythms. In fact, a study conducted in India, has proven the effectiveness of Pranayama in helping control bronchial asthma symptoms. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017963/)
You can start off by simple breathing techniques that help prevent over breathing and help establish a rhythmic breathing pattern. Once you are able to gain some amount of control, you can progress to advanced breath modification methods.
Pranayama is easy. But it does take a lot of patience to master. There are many YouTube videos that can help you get started. It is highly recommended that you do not advance to Kapalbhati or other advanced exercises for at least 6 to 8 months after starting Pranayama. If at any time, you feel overwhelmed or breathless, just stop and take a break. Walk around for a while. It might just be the anxiety causing you to hyperventilate.
Since breathing is also controlled by the autonomous nervous system, your emotions play a key role in governing it. If you are angry or agitated, the breathing automatically gets short and more difficult. Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, a doctor in Russia developed a breathing technique that is now officially recognized in many countries as a complementary non-pharmacological therapy for asthma management.
The Buteyko technique is designed with a series of lessons or exercises that help asthmatics reduce over breathing or hyperventilating. This in turn reduces the carbon dioxide that you exhale from your lungs and prevents it from getting inflamed further.
With regular practice, asthmatics can learn how to prevent breathing from the mouth, learn how to relax their diaphragm and also exercise without hyperventilating.
Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor created a set of techniques to help correct postural inadequacies that are helpful to an extent in helping improve the quality of breathing. The Alexander technique works by realigning the spine, the neck and the head when you sit, stand, walk or are performing everyday activities.