Asthma is no laughing matter. Having your airways restricted can be terrifying. It is also very dangerous. The human body cannot survive long without oxygen.
Those who suffer from asthma have long been relying on puffers full of steroids and other drugs to help during an attack. Unfortunately, there are also side effects to using these drugs.
Medical experts have been unable to find a treatment for asthma attacks. The best that can usually be hoped for is to control the severity of a particular attack, or to try to minimize the frequency of attacks.
There is some good news for asthma-suffers this week, however. Apparently, exercises developed 40 years ago really do work when it comes to stopping an attack. And not only that, these exercises seem to improve mood as well.
The exercises are collectively called the Papworth method. There are a sequence of breathing and relaxation exercises that were developed at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, in the 1960s.
Despite the fact that these exercises have been around for a long time, no trial has ever examined the effectiveness of the Papworth method. Until now, that is.
Drs. Elizabeth A. Holloway and Robert J. West, from University College, London, assessed the outcomes of 85 asthma patients. The patients received either the usual care or five sessions of the Papworth method. Respiratory symptoms and mood were evaluated over the course of 12 months.
The Papworth method teaches asthma patients how to reduce rapid, shallow breathing during an attack. A more relaxed deep breathing is attempted.
The method also teaches people how to manage stress, relax, and use breathing techniques in their daily lives. Home exercises reinforce the techniques learned.
During the study, researchers found that patients who were taught the Papworth method experienced significantly greater improvement in respiratory symptoms than did controls. The Papworth method also seemed to lessen anxiety and depression as well as rapid breathing.
“To our knowledge, this is the first evidence from a controlled trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Papworth method,” the researchers concluded.
You can find out about the Papworth method online. Or talk to your healthcare provider. They should be able to steer you in the right direction if you would like to give the exercises a try.