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Call for nurses to teach Buteyko asthma technique

Nurses should be encouraged to teach asthma sufferers the Buteyko breathing technique (BBT), according to a leading medical expert.

Specialist respiratory physiotherapist Gillian Austin, who works for Hertfordshire Community Trust and is also head of the Buteyko Breathing Association (BBA), suggested nurses are ideally placed to teach the technique during a speech at the annual conference of the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS) last week.

The BBT, which is designed to help people with asthma to overcome symptoms of the condition, involves breathing steadily through the nose during an asthma attack. Practitioners of BBT claim the technique helps to reduce feelings of breathlessness and panic experienced during an attack.

In her speech, Ms Austin went on to address false rumours circulating about BBT: “The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia wrongly mentions that proponents of the BBT believe it to be a cure for asthma.

“This is certainly not what practitioners trained by the UK-based BBA would say, who prefer to take a more pragmatic approach to how the technique has its effect on asthma sufferers.”

Readers' comments (4)

  • i have asthma and was taught to do "pursed lips" breathing during an attack; this is like the yogic breathing i learned earlier, and it definitely does work. it encourages you to exhale, but it also lowers the amount of stress chemicals you produce, which of course helps you breathe more freely. i dont know if any other technique would be better, but i will go on record that an asthmatic will gladly learn anything that will help.

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  • While pursed lip breathing can be helpful both by limiting the amount of tidal volume of air and encouraging some additional movement of Lymph through the pressure exerted during pursed lip slightly pressured breathing, it is best to monitor the amount of breathing that you are doing and so to voluntarily reduce your breathing. Using something like a Frolov Device or the DIY knock off shown by Artour Rakhimov on his site Normalbreathing.com will further facilitate improvement. The key here is rhytmic reduced volume breathing which increases the maintenance of CO2 allowinig for smooth muscle tissue to relax and assisting in the off loading of Oxygen into the cells and tissues as per the Bohr relationship.

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  • IF you practice this sort of reduced volume breathing a few times a day for say a total of 40 minutes or an hour in addition to learning about what else to do to facilitate a readjustment of the so called breathing center in your brain, you will then develop healthier breathing and not have to do the exercises any more. Also, learn about the amazing gift that CO2 is even in using something like Sodium Bicarbonate appropriately. AND ALWAYS Breathe Through your nose. The nose is an amazing functional piece of our anatomy. See the book By the famous Portrait artist, George Catlin, SHut Your Mouth and Save Your Life published in 1870 He learned all about this and literally saved his life in living with the indigenous people of the Americas whose portraits he so beautifully rendered.

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  • what help can you give to somebody who has an attack in a public place who may not have learned this technique and may not have their medication on them?

    Do you wait to see if it subsides or immediately call an ambulance?

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