Breathing exercises can be helpful for people with asthma
Asthma is a common condition which produces a significant workload for general practice, hospital outpatient clinics and inpatient admissions. It is clear that much of this morbidity relates to poor management particularly around the use of preventative medicine.
In the recent asthma guideline by the British Thoracic Society, nine key recommendations are made, based on current evidence for best practice. It makes recommendations on management of adults, including pregnant women, adolescents, and children with asthma, on diagnosis, medication, supported self management, inhaler devices and acute asthma.
It is recommended that breathing exercises can be offered to people with asthma as an adjuvant to pharmacological treatment to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms.
Behavioural programmes centered 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.
There is currently insufficient evidence relating to other breathing exercise methods, such as yoga breathing techniques and inspiratory muscle training, on which to base a recommendation.
As physical training improves indices of cardiopulmonary efficiency, it should be seen as part of a general approach to improving lifestyle and rehabilitation in people with asthma, with appropriate precautions advised about exercise-induced asthma.
However, no effect of physical training on PEF, FEV1, FVC or ventilation at maximal exercise capacity has even been found in asthma patients.
Are you consulted for breathing exercises in asthma patients?
> From: Paton et al., (2016) . All rights reserved to British Thoracic Society & Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Click here for the Pubmed summary.