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The control pause is a measure of the level of carbon dioxide in  the  alveoli  based  on  a  comfortable   breath  hold.  The control   pause  and  pulse  are  used   together   to  monitor asthma. Over  time,  paying  attention to  the  breathing  pattern, your carbon  dioxide threshold  will adjust  to a higher  and healthier level. As a result the body becomes less sensitive to carbon dioxide accumulation,  which will result in a gradual improvement in the length  of time a person  can hold their breath. By reducing the volume of breathing, carbon dioxide levels increase and therefore  the control pause will increase.

Through  overbreathing,   the  carbon  dioxide  level will decrease  and therefore  the control pause will decrease. The control pause will also decrease if medication  is reduced too drastically. The control pause is consistent  and is a very good indi- cator of progress and of the current condition of the asthma, because  of this  it is essential  to  learn  how to  measure  it correctly.  Bear  in  mind  that  the  control  pause  is  only  a measure;  it is not  an exercise to increase  the  level of your carbon dioxide. The control pause enables the measurement of carbon dioxide in the  alveoli without  the  need  for any equipment other than a stopwatch or a watch/clock with a second hand.

 

Measuring your control pause

 

✦   Sit in an upright  chair and  adopt  a good  posture.  Relax your shoulders  and rest your lower back against the back of the chair.

✦   Do  not  change  your  breathing  before  taking  your  CP. Take a small breath  in (two seconds) and a small breath out (three seconds). Hold  your nose  on the ‘out’ breath, with empty lungs but not too empty. Holding your nose is necessary to prevent air entering  into the airways.

✦   Count how many seconds until you feel the first push of your breathing  muscles. You should feel a jerk or move- ment  from  the  area around  your tummy  (diaphragm) or larynx (neck). Let go of your nose and breathe through it.

✦   Your  first  intake  of  breath  after  the  CP should  be  no greater  than  your breath  prior  to taking  measurement; you should not hold your breath for too long as this may cause you to take a big breath after measuring  the CP.

Points to bear in mind

There are a number  of important points to bear in kind when measuring  your CP:

  • Breathe normally before taking your CP. Try not to take a big breath before you start as this will give an inconsistent reading. If you have just completed  breathing  exercises, wait two or three minutes.  Measuring  your CP directly after exercises will give an inaccurate reading  due to an existing air short- age from the exercise.
  • Do not breathe all the air out of your lungs because this will be very uncomfortable  and will result in a reduced  CP. Also do not try to hold your breath  for too long as this will give an incorrect reading. The CP is a measurement of your progress only: it is not an exercise to see how long you can hold your breath before you burst!
  • Hold  your breath  only until  you feel the  first  urge  to breathe  in. You may not like the result but it is the correct one  and  that’s what you need  to know. You can then  take steps to correct it and gauge your progress with confidence.

It does take some practice before you become consistent in measuring  your control pause. The measure  is subjective because it is difficult to know what the first urge is. At first, it is very easy to push a little too hard and this is the case when the breath after taking the CP is greater than before. With practice, the control pause will become more consistent.  A reading  of the  level of carbon  dioxide in the alveoli will be achieved with a correct control pause.

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