Asthma patients are usually advised to practice breathing exercises alongside using inhalers. A recent study published in the journal Breathe suggested that simple breathing exercises can help patients to “reduce their reliance on rescue medication”. Here are some techniques that can help a patient with their symptoms and condition:
Deep breathing from the diaphragm instead of the chest helps to decrease oxygen demand and slow down breathing rate. The diaphragm is located just under the lungs or the rib cage. To do this type of breathing:
- Lie down comfortably on your back. Keep a pillow under your head, and keep your knees bent.
- Place one hand on your stomach.
- As you breathe in through the nose, observe your stomach rise.
- Let your stomach drop as you breathe out through your mouth. Breathing in through the nose and letting the air out through pursed lips (keeping the lips close to each other) enables the exhalation to become slower and more controlled.
- Do this for five minutes, three or four times daily.
A breathing and relaxation method introduced in the 1960s for patients with asthma and other breathing problems, the Papworth method is a type of diaphragmatic breathing. A study published in the journal Thorax by BMJ found that it helps control stress levels and manage breathing more efficiently among people suffering from asthma. Here’s one way to do it:
- Sit comfortably on a mat. Cross your legs, if this is comfortable for you.
- Now breathe in and out comfortably for a few breaths.
- Next, take deeper breaths: continue to breathe in through the nose, hold the breath for a few seconds and breathe out through the mouth. Do this for a minute or two.
- Next, breathe in deeply, hold the breath for a second and open your mouth to exhale forcefully and slowly through the throat and mouth.
- Breathe in deeply, hold for a second, breathe out with a huff through the mouth.
Studies indicate that breathing through the nose is more efficient in managing symptoms of asthma and controlling the levels of oxygen going into the system. Breathing through the nose allows the air to become warmer while entering the airways rather than breathing through the mouth.