Next time you visit your doctor with whatever complaint or condition you are concerned about, take a minute to ask him or her whether it matters how you breathe and whether your breathing habits could affect your general health. “Does it matter how I breathe?”
You may also like to ask why it is that your blood pressure, weight, pulse rate and maybe blood analysis are almost routine but it is rare for you to have any assessment of your breathing.
You may find the answers interesting, because dysfunctional breathing has reached almost epidemic proportions in the modern world and chronic hidden hyperventilation has repeatedly been demonstrated to cause a vast number of symptoms that are usually not recognized as being associated with the hyperventilation but ascribed to some other disease or pathological condition.
However, if you had a respiratory problem you may well have been given a peak flow meter test to assess your lung function, as this is the standard test for such an assessment. If you are already over-breathing or hyperventilating the act of blowing as hard as you possibly can through this instrument will naturally increase your over-breathing and cause related responses from your body. One such response will be for spasm of smooth muscle and a shutting down of air sacks in the lungs along with increased irritation of all your airways that may together make you cough or even precipitate an asthma attack. I believe this must be only scientific measuring instrument that changes the condition of the object being measured! It is rather like having an elastic tape measure to assess your waist measurement! The measurement will vary depending on how enthusiastically the tape is used!
Returning to that first question, “Does it matter how I breathe?” The answer is definitely yes! Of course it does, just as it is at last accepted by mainstream medicine that it matters what and how you eat or drink or exercise or sleep. We can survive three weeks not eating, three days not drinking but hardly three minutes not breathing; wouldn’t this alone suggest breathing is worth checking out?
Yet the simplest non-invasive test developed by Dr Konstantin Buteyko, the Control Pause, or maximum comfortable breath hold in seconds after a normal exhalation, has not been adopted to screen for hyperventilation in patients. It takes literally under one minute and will reliably indicate those patients who are habitual over-breathing.
Using this simple test would allow every patient to be screened for hyperventilation at practically no cost but for those showing serious hyperventilation it could speed their recovery from many conditions that are associated with hyperventilation. Every asthmatic hyperventilates, most people with heart conditions hyperventilate, all people suffering from sleep apnoea over-breathe, most people suffering anxiety or panic attacks hyperventilate and a host of other conditions improve as the patient’s breathing is returned to normal.
Thousands of research papers have shown these relationships between many modern diseases and chronic hidden hyperventilation and yet it is still usually undiagnosed and even when it is diagnosed very little help is offered the patient to correct the problem.
The Buteyko Method is just one system of breath training that has been used with hundreds of thousands of people suffering the consequences of chronic hidden hyperventilation, it is effective, based on good science and easily taught. Why is it not a part of mainstream medicine? There’s another question worth asking!
In the meantime why not check your own breathing HERE and if it’s not good get started on a MyButeyko Breath Training Course for only £75? Contact us at <email@example.com>
Michael Lingard BSc DO BBEC