Trigger avoidance and consistent use of asthma controller medication
are the primary means of asthma management. Even with the best
efforts, an occasional asthma episode may occur. Difficult breathing
can be very frightening. When this happens, relaxation and controlled
breathing may help reduce the anxiety of the episode until quick-relief
medication eases asthma symptoms.
Controlled Breathing Exercises
Controlled breathing techniques may improve air intake, reduce
shortness of breath, and promote relaxation. Practice the following
exercises several times per week so that during an asthma episode
you can use these techniques.
- Sit or stand, pull your elbows back firmly, and inhale deeply.
- Hold your breath for 5 counts
- Exhale slowly and completely
(Parents of very young children can have the child copy their
own deep breathing exercise.)
- To become familiar with diaphragm breathing, lie on your
back with your knees bent and supported by pillows
- Place you fingers on your belly just below your ribcage
- As you inhale deeply, your belly and lower ribs should rise
while your chest remains fairly still. Inhale for a count
of 3 and exhale for a count of 6.
Slightly puckering your lips can help you to exhale slowly.
You will now know how to do diaphragm breathing and can use this technique
in a sitting position during an asthma episode.
- Make an effort to tighten every muscle in your body.
- Next relax your muscles starting in your feet and working
up your body to your neck and face muscles.
- Do this several times in a row to know how to relax your
- Close your eyes. Relax your body muscles.
- Now picture a favorite place, sound, or even a smell.
- Stay with this memory while you practice your deep breathing
for one to two minutes.
Note: This information is not meant to be a substitute
for consulting with your own health care provider.