An  asthma   attack  involves  faster   breathing   and   bigger breaths than normal. When you have an attack, your respiratory centre is excited  and  you  experience  a  very  strong feeling  that  you simply cannot  get enough  air, so you are stimulated into trying to take bigger breaths, each with more volume  than  you would  normally  inhale.  When  an  attack strikes, starting  this exercise will be totally contrary to what you will feel like doing because it involves reducing your air intake  even though  you will feel an overwhelming  urge  to inhale as deeply as you can.

Throughout my teenage years my first instinct when the first  signs  of  symptoms  appeared  was  to  reach  into  my pocket for my Ventolin reliever. What I know now is that this instinctive reaction creates a dependency  on the drug, and a psychological addiction  to it. Practice  this  exercise for the first few minutes  to try to get over the attack before taking your reliever if your symptoms  are mild enough.  Of course, if the  attack is severe, you must  take your inhaler  straight away.

✦   First, sit down in an upright position. If you happen to be lying down in bed when the symptoms  first appear, then get out of bed and sit down comfortably. If the room  is stuffy, open the window to let in some fresh air.

✦   At the first signs of an attack resist the urge to take big breaths, and focus on trying to reduce your breathing.  It may help if you repeat these words in your head, over and over: ‘relax and remain calm’.

✦   When  you  decrease  your  breathing,  be  careful  not  to decrease it too much that you start to gasp.

✦   If you do create a strong  need  for air, be careful not to exacerbate your attack by taking in very big breaths after- wards.


With all asthma attacks, senses of panic, urgency and irritabil- ity  can  set  in  quickly, but  these  are  the  normal   human responses  generated when  you feel a threat  of suffocation. Always remember that  your attack is caused by your over- breathing and try to remain  as relaxed as you can during the attack. Clear your  mind  by focusing  on  your  breathing  as much as you can and practice the exercise above. You may not always stop an asthma attack using this exercise, but you can certainly reduce it substantially. Over time, as your condition improves, your ability to stop an attack will also improve.

If your attack lasts more than five minutes, take your reliever medication. If you are having a severe attack, then take medication  immediately. If  you are not  responding to medication within ten minutes, seek medical attention immediately.


If your symptoms are manageable, then try to overcome the  attack by practicing  the  exercise for the  first couple of minutes. If you are unable to obtain relief after five minutes, take your reliever medication.  Do not prolong the attack or experience unnecessary discomfort by delaying the taking of the reliever unnecessarily. After you have taken your reliever medication, continue to remain relaxed and reduce your breathing.

The  aim  of  this  therapy  is to  reduce  the  number   of attacks  arising  in  the  first  place. While  you will continue to experience  attacks, the  frequency  will diminish  as your control pause gets closer to the forty-second target. Breathing  exercises will only alleviate asthma  when applied during  the early stages of an attack or wheezing.  If an  asthma  attack  has been  occurring  for  more  than  five minutes,   it  will be  a  lot  more  difficult  to  control  using breathing exercises, especially if your normal control pause is less than twenty seconds.

It is very important that everyone with an asthma  condition  continues to take their preventer treatment as prescribed and has reliever medication  at hand  in case it’s needed.

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