It is hard to believe winter is almost over; it feels like it never even really arrived. The trees are blooming though, which is a sure sign, and for those with tree allergies, spring is brutal. It can bring on itchy, sneezey, watery eyes, congestion and even sinus infections. For those with asthma, it can trigger attacks. And, for those who sniffle constantly, it can potentially lead to asthma.
How so you ask? Part of the mechanism behind asthma is over-breathing. When we breathe too much our carbon dioxide levels drop. Insufficient carbon dioxide causes smooth muscle spasms throughout the body, such as in the brain (as in migraines) and in the bronchii (as during asthma attacks). Despite more air entering the lungs of an “overbreather”, no increase in blood oxygen level is has been shown, but because of the lowered CO2 level, less oxygen actually makes it to the cells that need it.
Chronic over breathing over prolonged periods of time can change the set-point for the autonomic trigger of when to take the next breath. It is not possible to just hold your breath to increase the amount of CO2 in your body because you will automatically gasp air when it is slightly beyond what it is accustomed to. Holding your breath also makes you take an even bigger, deeper breath when you do take your next breath.
Still, if you can overbreath your way into asthma (no matter what triggers the overbreathing), you can underbreath your way out of it.
The Buteyko method is a form of physical therapy that consists of “breathing retraining” as a treatment for asthma as well as other conditions. One very good Buteyko based program I have found is called Kick Asthma Naturally.
You can read more about it, as well as my experience with it at the above link. I have seen it work miracles and use some of the techniques myself periodically even though I am not asthmatic. I know plenty of people who became asthmatic in mid-life and I plan on NOT becoming one of them!