Monday, September 1, 2008

Fear Doesn't Help - Teach your child these breathing techniques

Having had asthma my entire life, I tend to take for granted the things my parents did for me as a child to assist me with asthma. They never let it get in the way of "our life". I still participated in sports, we still went camping, and had/have pets.

The one thing that stuck out in mind were the classes that I took at a local YMCA that taught me to take control of my asthma and not let it control me. I am not afraid, nor do I get stressed out when I have trouble breathing. To people with Asthma you should understand what I mean.

The main way to deal with an asthma attack and not let it take control over you is the breathing exercises that I was taught. (Asthmatics who undertook regular breathing exercises reduced their preventer medication levels by up to half and reliever use by up to 86%.) These breathing exercises were drilled into my head over and over again from the classes, from my doctors, from my family.

The aims of breathing exercises are:

* to get back the natural and automatic diaphragmatic breathing, and not the thoracic type of breathing
* to concentrate on exhalation especially at the commencement of an attack.
* increasing the flexibility of the chest wall and to relax the accompanying muscles of the respiratory system and
* to correct other problems commonly associated with chronic asthma.

There are now many different forms and versions of breathing exercises for asthma.

Basic breathing exercise for Asthma:
1. Breath in for 10 seconds
2. Hold breath for 10 seconds
3. Breath out for 10 seconds

There are many variations of breathing exercies out there in the world today.

Hum breathing exercises for asthma:
1. Hum as you exhale slowly, trying to prolong the breath without straining.
2. Then repeat, but this time make a buzzing sound. Notice when the sound changes and when you become breathless.
3. Stop breathing for a moment then breathe in gently. If you need to gasp for breath you are trying too hard.
4. Breathe in, purse your lips then breathe out in a series of little puffs. Work against the pressure of your lips and cheeks, contracting the abdomen not the chest as you blow.
Blow out an imaginary candle. Again your abdomen not your chest should contract as you blow. Your attempts to blow out the candle should be fairly quiet. You should be breathing in naturally at the end of the blow.
5. Repeat as many times as is comfortable but stop if you begin to feel breathless.

Baby Breaths
1. Sit on the edge of a chair. Feet flat on the floor. Back straight. Rest your hands on your thighs.
2. Take some "cleansing breaths" first. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose. Gently. Follow the breath all the way down to your belly. Slightly part your lips and allow the breath to exhale. Gently. Do this 3 times.
3.Adjust your posture. It is important that you are sitting up straight so that your lungs are fully open. Continue breathing as in the "cleansing breaths". But, this time, stay conscious of the breath. Follow it to the belly, watching it rise, then draw it up and out through your nose. Keep your mouth closed.
4.Do at least 10 of these. Less if you get dizzy. Stop if it is making you sick or causing any asthmatic symptoms. Work your way up to 10 during the following days.

Lung Lights
1.Start with the same posture as before.
2.Again, begin with cleansing breaths.
3.This time, close your eyes, draw the breath in through your nose. Follow it into your lungs and down to your belly.

There is no evidence to favor one breathing technique over the other. Instead any form of breathing exercises were associated with a dramatic reduction in reliever use. Using any form of breathing exercises for asthma was effective in markedly reducing the use of reliever medication.

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