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Breathing Exercises Improve Asthma Symptoms

In the United States, about 20 million people have been diagnosed with asthma; nearly 9 million of them are children. The most common treatment for Asthma has been the use of corticosteriod inhalers.

A new study found that breathing techniques can cut the use of asthma reliever inhalers by more than 80% and halve the dose of preventer inhaler required in mild asthma, research finds.

The new study, published in the journal Thorax, compared the impact of two breathing techniques on symptoms, lung function, use of medication and quality of life among 57 adults with mild asthma.

One technique focused on shallow, nasal breathing with slow exhalations, and the second technique used general upper body exercises, accompanied by relaxation.

The participants, who used a preventer inhaler and required reliever inhaler at least four times a week, were randomly assigned to one or other breathing technique.

Participants practiced their breathing exercises twice a day for around 25 minutes over a period of 30 weeks. They were also encouraged to use a shorter version of their exercises in place of reliever inhaler, and to use reliever if the exercises did not work.

Researcher Professor Christine Jenkins, of the the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, found that the use of reliever medication fell by 86% in both exercise groups, a process which began within weeks of starting the exercises, and was maintained over eight months. She writes: "Breathing techniques may be useful in the management of patients with mild asthma symptoms who use a reliever frequently."

By the end of the study, the participants dropped from using around three puffs of their reliever inhaler each day to approximately one puff every third day. Preventer dose requirements were also cut in half.

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