On the surface, the title of this article my seem counter-intuitive. Folks with asthma say they can't get enough air into their lungs, not that they are breathing too much. And the medical community "thinks" and "believes" in the trigger theory, that allergens are the cause of asthma.
Commonalities Among People With Asthma
As I observe people with asthma, I see similarities in how they breathe, even when they are not having an asthma attack. The same is true in children, teens and adults. These common breathing traits include:
Breathing Too Much Air
The medical definition of normal breathing is 8 to 12 inhalations per minute and bringing in 4 to 6 liters of air with every breath. For those with asthma, it's not uncommon to see them breathing 15 to 20 times per minute and inhaling 15 to 20 liters of air per minute; 3 to 4 times normal. They breathe a lot of air.
The medical community calls breathing too much chronic-hidden hyperventilation (hyperventilation). The other type of hyperventilation, acute hyperventilation, is commonly seen with anxiety or panic attacks. Hyperventilation is known to:
What's The Issue With Hyperventilation and How Does It Cause Asthma?
Hyperventilation, breathing many big deep breaths, expels large quantities of carbon dioxide from the body. Carbon dioxide is one of the four essential gases in the body and plays a huge role in how well or poor many body functions happen including muscle and organ oxygenation. For the person with asthma, the expulsion of carbon dioxide from the lungs is the reason smooth muscle surrounding the airways spasm. Like a brochiodilator, carbon dioxide relaxes these smooth muscles and lessens or stops the asthma attack.
Why Do People With Asthma Breathe Too Much Air
There are 20+ reasons why people hyperventilate, breathe more air than we need to. However, the two prominent ones are:
A diet high in sugary, starchy and processed foods can also result in hyperventilation. With these foods, the body becomes more acidic resulting in a "dumping" of carbon dioxide to balance the acidity. The dumping process is completed through the kidneys and hyperventilation.
When dealing with toddlers with asthma, I will ask the parents to try the "48 hour test"; these children are too young to do my targeted breathing exercises. I ask them to eliminate all sugary, starchy and processed foods for just 48 hours to see what happens. In almost every case, the toddler's asthma symptoms are lessened or go away. I've seen the same result in school-aged children, teens as well as adults.
Changing Your Breathing Can Relieve Asthma
Given hyperventilation is the root cause of most asthma, it makes logical sense that stopping the hyperventilation would relieve asthma symptoms. And I see this result all the time.
There are targeted breathing exercises I teach that rapidly increase carbon dioxide concentrations in the airways and relieve the asthma attack. It's not unusual for these breathing exercises to work within minutes and the first time they are used.
Now, like bronchiodilators, the breathing exercise noted above results in short-term relief of the asthma attack. Other targeted breathing exercises work on the cause of the hyperventilation and retrain the respiratory center of the brain to breathe less air and increase carbon dioxide retention. This process may take a few weeks to a few months depending on the severity of the person's asthma and the client's breathing exercise compliance.
Over the years, first with me, read my story here, and then with many clients, I've watched asthma symptoms quickly decrease and for many eventually disappear. I enjoy celebrating the day clients come off their asthma medications, as many of them do. Changing your breathing and stopping hyperventilation can relieve asthma symptoms. How you breathe really matters.