The Great Asthma Debate Continues on and on……..


British Thoracic Society
Global Initiative for Asthma

There are many questions that need answers for all those millions diagnosed with asthma.

Fact: both these respected organisations have endorsed the breath training as an important aid to asthma management because of the high grade clinical research.

Question 1. What is asthma?

as strange as it may seem this is still an area of debate. In 2006 an article in the Lancet discussed this very point “A plea to abandon asthma as a disease concept” and recent research has indicated that up to 40% of those diagnosed with asthma should not be and should not be on the medication prescribed. (Middlemore & Green Hospitals March 25th 2007) “Asthma” seems to have become a “popular” diagnosis.

Question 2. Is current treatment working?

With over 5 million people in the UK alone diagnosed with asthma, approximately 1 in 13 adults and 1 in 8 children, the incidence is increasing. There are over 1,200 deaths from asthma each year just in the UK and up to 86% of those could be avoided according to recent research. It is unusual to find any class in any school without three or four children with asthma inhalers, thirty years ago there might have been just half a dozen in the whole school. What has caused this increase?

Question 3. Could emergency admissions to hospital be reduced?

Most emergency hospital admissions of asthma patients may be because of poor compliance with their treatment, failure to recognise just how serious their breathing was in time to take early action, lack of out off hours help from their GP surgeries or a widespread ignorance of how to help themselves.

Question 4. Is there anything asthma sufferers can help themselves to manage the condition?

The answer to this question is a categorical “Yes!” The vast majority of asthma sufferers can be taught better management of their asthma in a matter of days using breath training, better breath monitoring and simple lifestyle changes. Not only are they on average able to safely reduce their reliever medication by up to 90% and preventer medication by up to 50% but they enjoy less wheezing, less coughing, better sleep and overall better QOL. Even more importantly the fact that they learn to monitor their asthma more efficiently and can seek additional medical attention before an emergency strikes, the risk of death could be dramatically reduced.
From SIGN 153 2016 “British Guideline on the management of asthma” Section:6.2.13
Behavioural programmes centred on breathing exercises and dysfunctional breathing reduction techniques (including physiotherapist-delivered breathing programmes such as the Papworth method, and the Buteyko method) can improve asthma symptoms, quality of life and reduce bronchodilator requirement in adults with asthma, although have little effect on lung function.
These techniques involve instruction by a trained therapist in exercises to reduce respiratory rate, minute volume and to promote nasal, diaphragmatic breathing. Trials that include more than five hours of intervention appeared more likely to be effective. They can help patient’s experience of their condition and quality of life although do not affect lung function or airways inflammation. They should ideally be provided as part of integrated medical care.
Surely as an asthma sufferer if you could a)Reduce your asthma symptoms, including breathlessness, b) Reduce the incidence of attacks and /or have better warning of them, c) Reduce the amount of reliever medication by up to 90%, d) Reduce the amount of steroid or preventer medication on average by 50%, e) generally improve your quality of life , f) suffer fewer chest infections as you learn to use your natural defence system- nose breathing, would you be very upset that your peak flow measures had not improved greatly? Remember the Peak Flow Meter is perhaps unique among scientific measuring instruments; the forced breathing always affects the lung function by causing constriction of the airways. Many asthmatics performing this strange test have severe coughing bouts or even an asthma attack!
If there was one more point to encourage our overstrained NHS to adopt breath training for asthmatics it would be the enormous potential saving on drugs, medical consultations, hospital admissions, economic loss to the country of days off work not to mention the improved quality of life for the patients. Two GP’s did trial the Buteyko Method training for a group of their asthma patients and claimed to have saved the NHS thousands of pounds a year. The best estimates at present would suggest up to half a billion pounds a year savings that could be better spent elsewhere in the NHS. £500,000,000 savings is a small price to pay to overcome deep seated prejudices and poor health outcomes. We would have though that NICE would take greater interest unless there are vested interests that can apply pressure? The pharmaceutical industry perhaps, who could lose a large percentage of their income from asthma drugs?
For more information visit: TotalHealthMatters!, ButeykoKent or AsthmaCareKent